Queensland | Say ‘thanks’ to local heroes this National Volunteer Week

QLD | 15 May 2012

Minister for Police and Community Safety Jack Dempsey said this National Volunteer Week (14 – 20 May) Queenslanders were encouraged to say ‘thanks’ to the volunteers who were essential to Queensland’s front line emergency and corrective services.

“Whether they administer first aid, tarp roofs or battle bushfires, Department of Community Safety (DCS) volunteers are a unique mix of individuals who don’t just give up their time for a cause but are committed to dropping everything at a moment’s notice to help their fellow Queenslanders,” Mr Dempsey said.

“National Volunteer Week is the largest celebration of volunteers in the nation and a prime opportunity to pay tribute to the 45,000 volunteers across DCS.”

The Rural Fire Service is the largest volunteer-based organisation in the Department, with more than 34,000 operational and non-operational volunteers across 1,450 brigades who provide fire management to 93 per cent of the State.

“The State Emergency Service has more than 7,300 active volunteers who, in recent times, have assisted those affected by flooding and severe weather in Townsville, Miles, Roma, Charleville, St George and on the Sunshine Coast,” Mr Dempsey said.

“In devastated communities, where some families have lost everything, they have provided assistance to people in the most trying of times.”

Mr Dempsey said the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) benefits from the 350 first responders and honorary ambulance officers situated in remote communities who assisted in providing pre-hospital care to the sick and injured before paramedics arrived on scene.

“The QAS also receives strong support from 1,419 volunteers who work across 158 Local Ambulance Committees and form a valuable link between the community and service, fundraising for the purchase of equipment and training resources,” he said.

“In addition, the Emergency Management Queensland Emergency Services Cadet Program is led by a taskforce of around 300 volunteers across the State, all working towards the goal of building the next generation of paramedics, firefighters and volunteers.”

Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) also benefits from the work of Chaplains, Counsellors and Elders, who enhance safety both within and outside correctional facilities.

“QCS volunteers also form the backbone of many valuable community service projects. They help plan projects through membership on local community advisory committees and supervise offenders working on those projects.”

Mr Dempsey said the Department also supported other volunteer organisations with around 37,000 volunteers involved in Surf Lifesaving, Coast Guard and Volunteer Marine Rescue across Queensland.

“There is no doubt we would be lost without our army of volunteers and I encourage everyone to get behind them this National Volunteer Week and celebrate their work and commitment to the people of Queensland,” he said.

To become a volunteer in the Department of Community Services please visit www.emergency.qld.gov.au/volunteers

Western Australia | Office of Bushfire Risk Management formed

WA | 15 May 2012

The Office of Bushfire Risk Management (OBRM) is now operating to independently assess the risks of prescribed burns undertaken by the Department of Environment and Conservation, in accordance with the State Government’s commitment following the release of the Keelty report into the Margaret River bushfires.

Emergency Services Minister Troy Buswell said the new office reported directly to Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) CEO Wayne Gregson.

“Once fully-established, the OBRM will assess the risks of all prescribed burns, as well as the level of resources available should such burns flare out of control,” Mr Buswell said.  “This office reports directly to the FESA CEO to ensure the prescribed burning process is independently scrutinised before ignition of the burn, and has the authority to direct a burn to be delayed or even cancelled if it deems the risks to be too great.”

The Minister said prescribed burning had an important role to play in protecting local communities and important economic, social, ecological and heritage assets from bushfire, but had to be carefully managed.

“The Government is committed to achieving the benefits of prescribed burning while ensuring it is conducted in such a way that the associated risk is understood and is as low as is reasonably practicable,” he said. “Once fully-established, the OBRM will ensure that the future approach to bushfire risk mitigation programs and decision making is consistent with international risk management practice.

“In line with the Keelty recommendations, it will also facilitate greater information sharing and co-ordination between agencies involved in prescribed burning and management of bushfire-related risk generally.”

The interim director of the OBRM is Mark Webb, who will return to his role as CEO of the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority once a permanent appointment is made in the coming months.

Fact File

Appreciating the Risk – The Report of the Special Inquiry Into the November 2011 Margaret River Bushfire available at http://www.publicsector.wa.gov.au

Western Australia | WA can count on fire and emergency services volunteers

WA | 15 May 2012

The State Government is calling for the Western Australian community to acknowledge and reflect on the critical role of fire and emergency services volunteers during National Volunteer Week.

Emergency Services Minister Troy Buswell said WA communities were well-served and carefully watched over by thousands of dedicated volunteers during destructive bushfires, cyclones, floods and storms.

“This week provides an opportunity for West Australians to acknowledge volunteers for their strength, courage and selflessness in protecting local communities during natural disasters and emergencies,” Mr Buswell said.

“More than 32,000 men and women across this vast and diverse State are volunteer members of brigades, units and groups. These volunteers that put in countless hours each and every year to keep us safe are our fellow citizens; they are our neighbours, colleagues, family and friends.

“This week is not just a time to embrace our volunteers, it is also a time to recognise their supportive families and employers who ensure our volunteers are available around the clock to help others.”

The Minister said WA’s emergency services volunteers faced a wide range of challenges throughout the year and had rallied to respond during recent months when parts of the State were burnt and battered by bushfires, storms and cyclones.

“Our volunteer fire, emergency and marine rescue services perform a truly remarkable role constantly on standby to keep communities safe, and save lives on land and at sea,” he said.

“I encourage West Australians to take the time the thank these volunteers who are always there to lend a hand, in all weather conditions, protecting us in the face of danger or helping to clean up after a threat has passed.”

Vital Signs:

  • In WA there are 2,094 SES volunteers, 1,421 volunteer marine rescue services members, 617 volunteer emergency service members, 404 volunteer fire service firefighters, 2,344 volunteer fire and rescue service firefighters and 25,832 bush fire service volunteer firefighters

New South Wales | NSW SES celebrates our volunteers duing National Volunteer Week

NSW | 15 May 2012

National Volunteer Week is being celebrated across the nation this week from the 14 May – 20 May 2012. The week recognises and pays tribute to more than 6 million Australians who donate their time to assist their communities each year.

We asked some of our wonderful volunteers why the love volunteering for the NSW SES:

Every day, volunteering in the NSW SES provides something different, we have a vast array of different tasks that we can complete this could include anything from temporarily repairing roof damage, too carrying out Flood Rescue. What I love most is working amongst other volunteers who share the same passion as myself in helping our local community in which we grew up in. I have made many friendships within the service that I treasure deeply. As volunteers we receive a lot of training to complete our tasks which we can then take back and use in our everyday life. There is a job for everyone from using the chainsaw to assisting in the Operations Room answering calls and talking on the radios. We are very lucky to have the most amazing experiences and get to work with other extraordinary people who volunteer their time.Alex Dwyer, Media Liaison Officer, Warringah – Pittwater SES Unit

I enjoy volunteering because it is a great place to meet new people from all different cultures and the training that NSW SES provide is fantastic. There are things I have done and places I have been with the NSW SES which never thought I would. It is also great to assist your local community in time of need.Matt Kirby, Deputy Local Controller, Kogarah SES Unit

Volunteering with the NSW SES has given me a true enrichment of life, by allowing me to help people in their time of need and gives me great satisfaction to be able to assist the community in making their homes, workplace and LGA safer.  In the past 20 years that I have volunteered with the NSW SES I have been able to put my skills such as using a chainsaw to good use within the community on various occasions. Debbie Burns, Rescue Team Leader, Marrickville SES Unit

I feel great when I have the opportunity to help someone. The overriding feeling I get from volunteering is that it is great fun. I never feel like I am working because I am doing something I really enjoy. In fact I have found the feeling can be addictive. As I support an important cause with my time, I want to do even more to make a difference. So I implore everyone to find a cause and volunteer because not only will you be helping others, you will be helping yourself.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Kylie Newman, Acting Community Engagement & Media Liaison Officer, Shellharbour SES Unit

I love volunteering with the NSW SES because you get to meet people of all ages, learn new skills you wouldn’t learn in everyday life and help people in the community at times of need.Zachery Simpson, Snowy River SES Unit

I love volunteering for the NSW SES for a couple of reasons firstly the satisfaction of helping the community in times of need, the enjoyment and experience I gain through training programs that I am able to undertake through the service and the friendly and inviting atmosphere.                                              Kristy Chie, Deputy Team Leader, Shellharbour SES Unit 

It has been very rewarding since joining the NSW SES two and a half years ago. I have successfully completed training in Flood and Storm, General Rescue, land search and First Aid and have utilised these skills to help the community in times of need. I have also made many friends, not only from my local SES unit but also other volunteers from across the State as I have been given the opportunity to volunteer in communities across NSW.  Anna Howard, Media Liaison Officer, North Sydney SES Unit

New South Wales | HazMat operation in Port Botany

Port Botany | 14 May 2012

A Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) operation is currently in progress at Port Botany.

At 1am today (Monday 14 May 2012), a ship carrying containers of nitric acid arrived at Port Botany from Freemantle. The captain of the ship reported a suspected leak coming from one of the containers. The container was removed from the ship and placed in a bundled area.

HAZMAT officers from Fire and Rescue NSW, along with NSW Police, NSW Ambulance Service and the Sydney Ports Authority commenced an operation to establish the nature and scope of the leak. As a precaution, a 250 metre exclusion zone has been set up to perform the operation which is expected to continue for a few more hours.

At this stage there have been no injuries or environmental impact as a result of the leak.