4.5.20.7 Provision of firewood

Assistance with the replacement of labour previously undertaken by a worker in obtaining firewood can only be provided where all of the following criteria are met:

  • wood was the worker’s only energy source for cooking and/or heating before their injury
  • the worker collected, chopped and stacked the wood themselves before their injury
  • the worker and other household members are unable to carry out the task since the worker’s injury
  • the timber source utilised for firewood collection pre-injury is still accessible eg was from the workers private land or meets current Forest Fire Management (FFM) Victoria, firewood collection requirements for the applicable region.

This assistance should only be provided once a year up to a maximum of three years. Alternative heating options should be reviewed given the nature of the work related injury if long term assistance is predicted.

A written request must be provided from a treating health practitioner (THP Treating Health Practitioner) before the Agent will consider approving firewood. Prior approval must be given by the Agent.

Note: If the worker purchased their own firewood prior to their work injury, they are not entitled to funding of firewood.

Agent assesses eligibility for provision of firewood

Short-term assistance required (< 3 years)

An Agent can approve short-term firewood assistance up to a maximum of $2300 where the worker is assessed as being eligible.

Consider using the more cost effective option of the following:

  • Provide labour: employ someone to chop, split, deliver and stack the firewood
  • Provide firewood: use a commercial firewood supplier to supply and deliver the wood. As a general rule, 8-10 cubic metres or approximately 4-5 tonnes of red gum firewood would be the maximum amount expected to be required to heat a standard three bedroom home in Victoria over the course of a calendar year. This is based on high and frequent usage.

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Long-term assistance required (> 3 years)

If upon an initial request, the Agent has information that provides support for the worker requiring long-term assistance (eg for more than three years) and this is unlikely to change, alternative heating options should be considered from the outset.

Where appropriate, offer an alternative ongoing heating source such as a gas heater or panel heater. In such cases, WorkSafe will consider paying up to the amount that would otherwise be approved for firewood over the next 3 years (i.e. maximum of $6900) towards a reasonable alternative heating option, taking into account costs paid out so far for the provision of firewood.

If an alternative heating replacement is provided:

  • no further cost associated with obtaining firewood will be considered
  • the worker is liable for all future running, maintenance and replacement costs of the new heater/cooker
  • the worker will be required to make a reasonable contribution towards the replacement costs of heating where that heating:
    • provides additional heating capacity to the household, eg ducted heating may supply heating to more rooms than those used by the worker; and/or
    • increases the value of the property.

Cessation of firewood provision after 3 years

Whilst the 3 year maximum entitlement for firewood is VWA policy, it is not legislated and therefore should not be so strictly enforced that the particular circumstances of each case are not considered.

Agents should still seek supporting evidence to review the reasonableness of ongoing assistance with firewood and to consider alternative heating options.

Activities of Daily Living (ADL) assessment

Where an Activities of Daily Living (ADL) (OT Occupational therapy is a client-centred health profession concerned with promoting health and well being through occupation. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to or are expected to do or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement .) assessment is necessary, the ADL assessment should address:

If an ADL is deemed necessary as part of the assessment, the Occupational Therapist will review the:

As part of the assessment, the worker must supply evidence to the Occupational Therapist that they obtained firewood before the injury by producing one of the following:

  • a completed firewood request questionnaire
  • copies of invoices from wood supply merchants
  • evidence of equipment used to split and chop the firewood pre-injury.
  • If collecting from a state forest pre-injury: do FFM-allowed collections dates, vehicle requirements etc suggest the firewood collection would have been realistic if not for the worker's injury?

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