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For around 750 people affected by the closure of Hazelwood Power Station, the life they have now is not the one they had just over a year ago, according to the Gippsland Employment Facilitator Luke Arber.
‘There’s still a degree of uncertainty,’ Luke said. ‘But the community’s resilience is quite outstanding.’
Employment Facilitators are an on-the-ground presence who work with retrenched workers in specific regions to connect them with training, job opportunities and link them with other existing support.
Luke said that those workers who focused on their transition out of Hazelwood earlier are the ones who have done better.
‘Lots of workers have taken advantage of new roles thanks to the $530 million allocated to the region for rail transport infrastructure.’
‘Those with higher skill levels have better portability, although those with established homes are less likely to want to move away from the area,’ Luke said.
A Worker Transfer Scheme has so far resulted in 77 Hazelwood workers being employed by other power station operators in the Latrobe Valley area, including AGL Loy Yang A, Alinta Loy Yang B and Energy Australia Yallourn.
‘Others are working in the growing health sector, including as patient transport drivers, and some have moved interstate chasing similar work in Queensland or Western Australia.’
A feature of the transition away from Hazelwood has been the collaboration between the state and federal governments.
Most recently, the Australian and Victorian governments are providing a combined $100 million for a pilot project to convert brown coal into hydrogen for export to Japan and elsewhere.
The $496 million pilot project will create over 400 direct and indirect jobs and is an initial step towards a commercial-scale hydrogen supply chain to diversify energy sources.
Luke said the closure of Hazelwood had been ‘a wake-up call’ for the region.
‘It has brought us into the emerging market of casualisation, multiple careers and the gig economy,’ he said.
‘The community has to face this change head on. The days of staying in one job for 30-odd years are over. As workers we all need to be more agile, capable of retraining, learning new skills.
‘Some of the older workers have seen this before with the power industry privatisation in the 1990s. They survived that and, while there remain pockets of disillusionment after last year’s closure, the vibe is mostly positive.’
Where are Hazelwood workers now?
Hazelwood workers have transitioned to other industries and roles, such as:
- Latrobe Valley Bus Lines—drivers
- Latrobe Regional Hospital—security, orderlies and HR
- Royal Flying Doctor Service—non-emergency patient transport
- jobactive—employment consultant
- Public Transport Victoria—rail projects—various trades and rail workers
- Mining – various roles—interstate
- Sale Fulham Prison—officers
- Aged care—personal care attendants and maintenance staff
Employment Facilitators work with retrenched workers to connect them with training, job opportunities and other existing support. They work with jobactive providers, training organisations and education providers to improve support for retrenched workers.
While Employment Facilitators will target their services to retrenched workers, all job seekers and employers can access their services.
Find out more about Employment Facilitators.