SES volunteers need resources and support

ACROSS the country State Emergency Services volunteers are regularly recognised for their hard work and commitment to helping others during tough times.

The state’s 6200 active SES volunteers emerge when people are bunkering down in storms, during floods, fires and cyclones and provide support in the aftermath.

In December 2013 when bushfires broke out on North Stradbroke Island SES members from Redlands, Brisbane and Moreton Bay clocked up more than 3500 hours. When someone is missing or police need help finding clues after a death or a crime is committed, SES volunteers don their orange gear and head to wherever they are required.

Their knowledge, experience and training is so important for residents and emergency services personnel. SES volunteers are often referred to as ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

The Redland SES Unit started in the 1970s and moved into the purpose-built Wellington Street building in 1978. Since then groups have been set up on North Stradbroke Island and the Southern Moreton Bay Islands and at Redland Bay. Money has been put into the islands’ much needed facilities.

It is understood that upgraded SES facilities at Cleveland currently depend on Surf Life Saving Queensland’s state headquarters moving to Cleveland. Redland City Council and SLSQ signed a memorandum of understanding in October last year to pursue that project. 

It sounds like a win for the SES with the centre being advocated as a one-stop shop for local emergency services, incorporating the SES and delivering better disaster response and training capabilities.

As yet, however, there have been no funding commitments from state or federal governments.

In the meantime some volunteers fear the SES unit is losing valuable experience – one estimate has it at more than 100 years of experience lost from senior members leaving in the past 12 months.

Safety concerns raised last month range from unsafe access to the building, to no lighting in portable toilets and windows not allowing for escape in an emergency. In a disaster, operations may have to be run from other facilities because the SES building is inadequate.

Our SES crews are valuable during disasters and emergencies. The government must ensure they have the resources and facilities to be able to train and equip themselves to provide the services we rely on – and that can be life-saving – in times of need.