Faster & Lighter: Is Timber Key to Victoria’s New Housing Plan?

"Timber takes on the Housing Shortfall" is one of the key topics to be discussed on the first day of TimberConstruct - August 12-13, 2024.

Wed 12 Jun 24


Victoria is growing fast! As the fastest-growing state in Australia, the ABS now predicts that its population could swell to 10.3 million by 2051 – with current forecasts anticipating that more than 2.24 million new homes will need to be built across the state, including 800,000 over the next decade.

Published late last year, Victoria’s Housing Statement – The Decade Ahead 2024-2034 is targeting 80,000 new houses every year, a mix of low-rise, mid-rise and high-rise delivered through an Affordability Partnership with the housing industry.

Under the plan, Melbourne’s hulking public housing towers will be torn down, city office blocks will be transformed into apartments, and government land will be sold off as the state grapples with a population that adds 126,000 new residents every year. And that’s just in Melbourne, with the government also eying a rapid expansion of social and affordable housing in regional and rural Victoria.

According to then-Premier Daniel Andrews, the statement is “the most comprehensive shake-up of one of the most important policy areas in decades”, but the government could intervene even further to build more homes closer to the city. “The status quo is not an option, and admiring the problem will only worsen it…unless we take bold and decisive action now, Victorians will pay the price for generations to come.”

Melbourne has emerged as an attractive location for housing investment following Vic Governments decision to delay the NCC Changes Wood Central scaled
The Victorian Government’s new Housing Statement will rapidly expand housing supply in Melbourne CBD – which in 2021 overtook Sydney as Australia’s largest city by population size.

But will bold and decisive actions involve greater utilisation of timber-based building systems?

That’s the question that will be posed to Jeroen Weimar, the Deputy Secretary of Housing Implementation from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, as part of a panel discussion during the first of the two-day TimberConstruct conference in Melbourne.

Featuring a panel of experts, including Peter Ward, the Managing Director of Drouin West Timber and Truss; Jeremy Church, the General Manager of NeXTimber Technical & Sales; Tim Newman, General Manager of Timber Building Systems; and Nathan Benbow, the Engineering Design Manager for ASH, they will dive into the role that offsite systems, including rapid deployment of mass timber, can play in taking on the housing shortfall.

This afternoon, Wood Central spoke to Andrew Dunn, the TimberConstruct conference organiser, who said the panel discussions will also cover hybrid solutions, “combining timber with other modern materials to push the boundaries of design.”

Melbourne’s public housing skyscrapers, located across the city, will be knocked down and replaced with a mix of public and private housing. (Photo Credit: Homes Victoria).

Under the plan, Victoria has pledged to knock down Melbourne’s 44 public housing towers and replace them with a mix of public and private housing. It has also vowed to create 210,000 new homes across various activity centres across Melbourne, including Broadmeadows and Ringwood, and priority precincts, such as Fishermans Bend and Arden.

It will also invest heavily in build-to-rent projects, now targeted as a major growth industry for mass timber-based construction – with mid-rise and high-rise residential the new sweet spot for hybrid timber systems.

“Unlocking the potential in and around our major transport projects in Melbourne’s inner and middle suburbs is a key focus,” according to current Premier Jacinta Allan, who said the plan “will deliver more homes, more jobs and better-connected services.”

Mr Dunn said TimberConstruct, Australia’s largest timber construction conference and exhibition, will be held in Melbourne on August 12th and 13th, 2024, and “is focused on materials and design, prefabrication, and building techniques.”

“The programme is firming up,” Mr Dunn said, including Duncan Mayes, the founder and principal of Finnish-based Lignutech Oy, who told Wood Central that future engineered wood products “are everywhere” and Yuichi Shinohara (from Shinohara Shoten Co in Japan) who will join Nick Milestone (from Mercer USA) and Xu Fang (from SEC/APA/SFPA in China) to discuss Australasia and the Pacific Visionary Timber Projects.

“Early bird tickets are now on sale,” Mr Dunn said, “secure your early bird tickets before it is too late.”

About the Presenters

Jeroen Weimar, Deputy Secretary of Housing Implementation, Department of Premier and Cabinet    

Jeroen will detail the Victorian Government’s ambitious plan to build 800,000 homes over the next decade. He’ll discuss the initiatives and reforms introduced through the state’s housing strategy and planning system to address housing challenges. These measures ensure the housing supply meets demand while facilitating more social and affordable housing.

Peter Ward, Managing Director, Drouin West Timber and Truss

Starting as a modest frame and truss supplier, Drouin West Timber and Truss has become a leading company utilising cutting-edge timber construction methodologies. Peter will delve into their specialty of townhouse projects and how they have refined their product offerings to excel in the industry.

Jeremy Church  General Manager – NeXTimber Technical & Sales

Jeremy will examine the integration of mass timber and lightweight timber elements to develop a building system that capitalises on the unique strengths of each timber product. By strategically combining these materials, the aim is to create a construction approach that harnesses the advantages inherent to both mass timber and lightweight timber components.

Tim Newman, General Manager, Timber Building Systems

TBA creates engineered timber wall panels with factory precision, forming a cost-effective and prefabricated building system that is fast to assemble. They utilise a unique patented post-tensioning connection system suitable for various construction applications, from house extensions to multi-level commercial and residential buildings.

Tim McDonald, Business Development Manager,  XLam Australia

XLam has developed an affordable mass timber building system that is becoming a mainstream solution for social housing in New Zealand. Tim will discuss this innovative approach, which leverages the advantages of mass timber to deliver cost-effective, sustainable housing units.

Nathan Benbow, Engineering Design Manager, ASH

Australian Sustainable Hardwood has developed a composite timber and concrete system that takes advantage of the strength of each material. The system provides an aesthetically pleasing prescriptive pathway for fire, which allows you to visually express the soffit, all while spanning further with fewer resources.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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