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The Unjust Plight of the Clark Family:

A Tale of Forgotten Victorians


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Brendon and Rachel Clark are facing an unprecedented and unfair challenge, stemming from a confluence of unnecessary events that have left their lives in disarray. At the heart of their struggle is the abrupt downturn in the family seed collection business, a venture they dedicated years to building.

First, there were the lawsuits from extremists, creating a legal quagmire that –  after a succession of legal battles by fringe anti-forestry groups against VicForests, meant that being shut out of going to work in the bush became the norm.

Adding to the already challenging situation was a workplace accident that had a profound impact on Brendon Clark. The incident left him with a broken neck, broken ribs, and a brain injury. The physical toll on Brendon not only disrupted his ability to contribute to the business but also created a substantial layer of hardship in a time the Clark family business was already suffering.

As if these challenges weren’t enough, the global pandemic, COVID-19, struck, further crippling the family seed collection business. Lockdowns, supply chain disruptions, and economic uncertainties created an environment where operating the business as usual became much harder. Then came the announcement – 8 years early – that the timber industry (which funds the seed collection program for bushfire regeneration) was to be shut down. This was announced after the government had directed and persuaded Brendon, and other similar contractors, to invest all of his remaining savings and finances into the Transition Program and into 2030, with the promise of new avenues of work as a result of the investment. With the industry abruptly closing, interest in continuing the seed program disappeared as people clamoured to save their own jobs, which led to a drastic drop in the business’s ability to generate income from March 2023 onwards, pushing the Clarks to the brink of financial ruin.

As a part of the The Victorian Forestry Worker Support Program delivered by ForestWorks, Brendon Clark’s wife Rachel applied for a redundancy package, seeking a reasonable compensation reflective of her 17 years of service and the tumultuous circumstances that had befallen the family business. The amount she was seeking was in accordance with the Government guidelines for this package: an average weekly income of the best two years since 2018. However, the government’s response has been nothing short of disappointing. Instead of recognising the extraordinary challenges faced by the Clarks, the offered redundancy amount mirrors close to the lowest income level they experienced—a year marked by extreme adversity. According to Brendon, the lack of empathy shown by the State Labor Government has been staggering. “We don’t know how they’ve worked the redundancy amount out – as there has been no consultation before the redundancy offer – we assume it is based on lower wages that were being taken as the industry was forced to grind to a halt by extreme activists and the Labor Government”.

This situation highlights the systemic issues in the current support mechanisms for native timber sector businesses facing unprecedented challenges – caused by a State Labor Government at the behest of anti-forestry extremists.

Putting aside the of the lack of any justifiable reason to close the sustainable native hardwood industry in Victoria. the government’s failure to provide a fair and compassionate response leaves families like the Clarks in a precarious position, grappling with the aftermath of circumstances beyond their control – alongside the very real possibility of having to sell the family home to pay bills that – had the transition been handled in the correct way – would never have had to happen.

Brendon and Rachel Clark face the real possibility of having to sell their family home – due to the inept policies and heartless transition of the Labor State Government.

The plight of Brendon Clark and his wife underscores the need for a more nuanced and just approach to business support and employee compensation during times of crisis. It calls for a re-evaluation of policies to ensure that those who have dedicated their lives to building and sustaining businesses are not left to bear the brunt of unforeseen hardships without adequate assistance and understanding from the authorities.

To put it plainly – it is the job of the Victorian Labor Government to fix the astounding mess it has made – without further insulting and degrading the families, businesses and communities that they say they want to support.


For further comment or media enquiries, please contact
FWCA executive officer Michael Harrington;

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