The SES Volunteers Association of Western Australia Incorporated (SESVA)
(A prescribed Association for SES Volunteers in WA)
"Volunteers don't get paid, not because they're worthless, but because they're priceless"
by Sherry Anderson
Welcome to the website of the State Emergency Service Volunteers Association of Western Australia Incorporated (SESVA). The SESVA was formed in the late 1980’s with the objective of providing a focus for representing the views of SES Volunteers on issues which affect them. The SESVA has developed the ability to strongly voice the opinion of the volunteers where, when necessary, to the benefit of all the Volunteers of the SES, where the action of a single Volunteer or small group would not be as effective. The SESVA represents SES volunteers on a number of committees and working groups and has regular meetings with DFES.
SESVA role is to represent the views of SES Volunteers to all levels of Government, DFES and other agencies on all matters affecting SES volunteers and the way in which we serve our communities.
SESVA Committee of Management
There is a Committee of Management to control the Association. The Management Committee consists of the following members:
Powers of the Management Committee
The Management Committee is the deliberative body in the Association with powers to make and direct policy, make, amend, or rescind the Constitution, and generally to take such actions as it considers necessary for the furtherance of the Association and its objects. The general management of the affairs of the Association is vested in the Management Committee.
"There shall be an Executive Council (Executive), consisting of the President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. The Executive shall take care of the day to day affairs of the Association, and may authorise payments on behalf of the Association only in accordance with the Business Rules of the Association."
SESVA Objectives & Current Activities
Bound for South Australia
By Steve Wells - Cockburn SES Unit
I was lucky enough to be selected as part of the first deployment of WA SES members who went to South Australia to assist with the flood and storm damage which affected much of their state. We were given a succinct briefing by Superintendent Amanda Williamson focussing on the five values we were expected to uphold, namely resilience, interoperability (with other jurisdictions and states), chain of command, safety and conduct. These are well worth considering for unit and local operations. We had a false start on Wednesday when our plane had to return to Perth due to inclement weather conditions at Adelaide.
Arriving on Thursday we were made welcome by local SES management and received a detailed briefing. They use a roof safety system when working at heights. Unlike us they do not use a z rig to tension their main line, instead they tie off their rope tensioned by pulling it taught. They also use a full body harness. There were two teams making up Strike Force Black Swan, I was part of the 4 team Quokkas consisting of metro SES members, whilst the Dugites all came slithering from the South West of WA. Both groups acquitted themselves brilliantly (I am not biased – they did!). Teams were typically 4 persons with a range of skills and experience but all having some capacity with storm damage, general rescue and chainsaw. The jobs we were called out to required a degree of physical fitness too. These may be worth units and members reflecting on in terms of operational potential.
Our Strike Force spent times in the Adelaide Hills dealing with storm damage issues on our first day. We received call outs and responded just like back home except we saw heaps of flooded creeks, large branches strewn across paddocks and pine trees to 40 meters fallen in many inconvenient places like house roofs, over fences and roads. For many of us cutting sections of pine trees with trunks over 3 meters thick was a new experience but we were able to support to people in need.
We spent a day at Twin Wells near where the Gwalla River had burst its banks adding more water to an already flooded landscape. Driving along creeks and rivers which were once main roads was a new experience and lugging full sandbags by the pallet was heavy going but rewarding as we all helped to secure houses from further flood damage in many cases. Towards the end of our time in flood country where we were going from house to house making sure people were ok, and assisting them if necessary.
What I got from this interstate deployment was the following:
- Our SES organisation is at least equal to any other in the country. The locals were glowing in their genuine respect and appreciation for what we did.
- DFES is able to respond at relatively short notice to organise a major deployment in a complex situation which involves lots of organisation and cross agency/state coordination.
- DFES is committed to ensuring that our people are looked after when a deployment like this happens. I was extremely impressed with the leadership skills of Superintendent Williamson and her team. We felt supported but also our leadership was approachable and a part rather than apart of our team.
- Our SES members across units have a natural bond and we are able to work together as effective teams. I have met many people from WA units who are now part of my extended SES family.
NSW SESVA Conference
The NSW SESVA conference was held in Sydney on Saturday 8 October. This annual conference is organised by the SES Volunteers Association in NSW, for the SES Volunteers. The WA Association Secretary and I were invited as guests to both the Conference and the SES Awards Night. The conference was well organised and consisted of presentations by SES Volunteers and others, encompassing three themes; mental health and well-being, innovation amongst members and stories from the field. All presentations were professional and informative. The keynote address was by Robyn Moore (Australian Actress and voice over artist) who entertained the audience for 60 minutes with humour, stories and some voice over examples. During the NSW SESVA AGM, the SESVA National Board acknowledged the great work and support the NSW Association had given the National body.
SESVA (WA) President
Gordon Hall presenting the NSW SES with the plaque on behalf of the Nation Association
Gordon Hall addressing the NSW SESVA on behalf of the National Board
The Fair Work Australia (Respect for Emergency Services Volunteers) Bill 2016
The National SESVA has been working on a number of national matters which could affect all SES and other Volunteers. The NSESVA had two representatives attend Parliament house in Canberra this week to lobby a number of parliamentarians during the final readings of the above bill.
There were representatives from a number of other areas including TAS RFS, CFA (VFBV), ACT RFS and the RFSA. The NSESVA representatives spoke to a number of parliamentarians about the importance of the bill in providing a voice for volunteers. Eventually a call was made for a vote and it was passed 37 to 31 just before 10pm on Monday. This new piece of legislation now gives the Associations a say in industrial relations matters that may impact volunteers under the fair work act. Effectively this should start to resolve the matters in Victoria and is a step in recognising the voice of the volunteer.
The NSESVA would like to acknowledge the work that Andrew Ford and the Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria has done in this matter. Attached is a photo taken of Volunteer representatives at Parliament House, Canberra at the end of the day. The link to the relevant part of Hansard is below;
SESVA (WA) President & NSESVA Deputy Chair.
UPPER SWAN SEARCH
Thursday 25th August 2016, 9.45 am, kids are out of the block taking part in the book week character parade. My apple watch interrupts my hot Milo and my ‘Cars n Stars’ lesson prep. I read- ‘Nat’s SES Phone’ - “Search underway now – need a few horses asap in Upper Swan. Plus ground crew to take radios etc to meet them. Please reply asap- Nat”. So I send my ‘Yes’ reply and await further instructions. Mind you the wait was only seconds and in that time I could find not a soul that I could advise of my immediate departure.
They; the Principal and Deputy were otherwise engaged I guess, showing off their creative costume handy work with the students. So I leave the information with another colleague to deliver and make my way home to hitch the float and collect my trusty steed Mission. Thankfully I’m a bit of a freak (shut up the lot of you) as far as being prepared goes. As per usual my hay was firmly packed into hay nets, tank was full of water, most of my riding gear was already in the float and my PPE was ready to be donned. ‘OH WHAT’S THAT? THE SES PHONE AGAIN’ I haven’t even finished writing this recount, looks like we’re back out searching tomorrow bright and early, so I’d best finish this and get some zzz’s in. Stephen and I arrive at the truck stop on the corner of Great Northern Hwy and Apple St Upper Swan and met up with Corrie and Jen, plus Alex who kindy delivered the hand held radios before slipping back home to continue her unfinished, day off business. We all had our brief along with the other units; Canine, Foot Teams and Police, the whole time struggling to hear anything over the roar of the RAC Rescue Chopper. The SMEAC was delivered, roles were assigned, Stephen filled our saddlebags with goodies to get us through the day and we set off to our search area with a road traffic vehicle escorting us along The Hwy. Riding along with us was two members of the Mounted Police Unit; Claire on her Bay Shire, Reg and Mark on his grey Percheron, Blue. Missing Person, Micheal Huria, 23 yrs old, possibly injured, mentally unstable. With these details in mind we diligently searched our designated areas looking for the person and or evidence of. Most of the time fighting off huge biting ants and quicksand type horse swallowing mud, as well as long overgrown pastures with the odd piece of wire and debris thrown in. Throughout the day our hand held radios let us down and we resorted to using mobile phones as our most reliable source of communication. On one occasion, Corrie had finished corresponding with Stephen who was radio controller back at base and I asked if I could speak to him, “hey honey, can you cancel my hair appointment, looks like I’m not going to make it?” I said and followed it up by saying to Corrie, “benefits of mobile phone vs hand helds!”. Only to hear later that the Police Co-ordinator and the Incident Controller had heard my request and they all had a little giggle as the phone was on loud speaker. Several minutes prior to this Steve (one of the four Steve’s there that day) the Police IC, had been heard saying “talk to you later, I love you”, when Stephen said “who me, thank you” and this was followed up with a mwah blowing kiss gesture in return. All units worked extremely well together with some evidence being found approximately 2kms away from our search area. Unfortunately, the missing person on this occasion was not located. During our debrief which was given mostly by Steve Summerton, we were thanked for our time and dedication. It was mentioned that our new Super Intendent Amanda Williamson was extremely quick to respond and have members of our unit along with their horses deployed. This is great news for The Mounted Section and hopefully we will be a little bit busier as far as searches go in the near future. Thanks go out to our beautifully well behaved boys; Charlie, Beau and Mission for their dedicated service to the unit.
Mounted Section at a recent training exercise