The Victorian Council of Social Service is warning of a social catastrophe in the Latrobe Valley if local communities aren’t adequately supported during the closure of the Hazelwood power station.
French power giant ENGIE has announced it will close of the Gippsland plant by March 2017*. Hundreds of jobs will be lost, with knock-on effects for other businesses and entire local communities.
“The Victorian Government, the Commonwealth and ENGIE must move swiftly to soften the blow of this closure,” VCOSS CEO Emma King said.
Ms King said the key to supporting local communities through this transition is by:
- STRENGTHENING local health and community services (including mental health providers) so they are ready for a spike in demand for help;
- INVESTING in training and new jobs opportunities for laid off workers, particularly in plant decommissioning and rehabilitation, renewable energy, energy efficiency and the state’s booming health and social services sector, and;
- INVOLVING local people in decisions about their future, supporting the region’s existing strengths and championing local leaders.
She said there was also a role for the withdrawing power giant ENGIE.
“Power industry leaders need to open their wallets to help these communities.”
“These power companies have made a lot of money over the years extracting natural resources and processing them for sale. Now they have a responsibility to help with the region’s long-term recovery.”
“It’s time to step up help these communities thrive again.”
Many communities across the Latrobe Valley, including Moe and Morwell, already face significant disadvantage and high unemployment.
VCOSS congratulates the Victorian Government on the establishment of a Latrobe Valley transition taskforce to help personally lead by the Premier, Daniel Andrews. We encourage the government to ensure broad and local representation on this taskforce.
*- This media release originally said ENGIE was “poised” to make an announcement on Hazelwood. That announcement has now been made.