March Report from Greg Cook SESVA President
Hello again to all our readers of the WA SES Volunteers Association Newsletter. The purpose of the newsletter is to maintain a flow of the more important discussions that may be happening across Western Australia that concern SES Volunteers.
We as elected representatives of the 65 SES Units welcome the contributions from our readers, the SES Units and their members, and the boarder chain of the emergency structures. These structures include our local community links, local governments and their elected members, WALGA, DFES and our elected state and federal members.
The distribution of the newsletter is wide, and I sincerely hope that with the passage of time will help contribute to continuous communication improvement.
I openly welcome your correspondence with the Association to allow for openness, transparent debate and truly informed decision making at all levels.
A topic that is on all our minds is the state election.
Politics is part of the role of the Association; however, we are not in the business of being a party preferred organisation. We advocate across all areas being Federal, State and local governments to raise awareness of the needs of the SES Volunteers.
I cannot stress enough that those needs are varied and are driven from the community up and through the units. A true statement is that “the one size fits all” approach is not successful simply because of the breadth of tasks that the SES Volunteer undertakes with our communities.
It is troubling that we hear that the solution to that is to restrict further the role of the SES at local level so we do “fit that size”, but this approach flies in the face of the Federal Natural Disaster Resilience Program.
Building local capability.
Reliance on a few does not strengthen our local resolve to overcome the issues in emergencies that we continue to face.
The Association has formed a working group to address the coming changes to the Emergency Services Acts.
I would like to thank the following for making the first step possible by attending a forming meeting on Saturday 20 Feb 2020. So, my thanks to the SES VA Treasurer, Secretary, New Vice President Alan Hawke and the SES Volunteers Advisory Committee Chairperson. Along with myself, these are the initial members of the working group.
The lack of consultation for the proposed position by government is concerning for all of us. We look forward to Max joining us shortly.
We know the SES Volunteers want their own structure within DFES, the ability to be managed through a Chief Officer, a supporting regional SES structure that understands the orange volunteer capability and training needs rather than the tip in the one bucket approach that exists now.
We understand that we have some wonderful career staff that are busting to succeed within this organisational shift. The long-term benefits to local communities can be immense.
The volunteers are not saying to us that they want a separate SES service, just the ability to work for the greater good of their communities by being a community-based SES Unit, as they were formed originally.
SES volunteers want the same operational structure that exits today. We all work well and that is bringing us together in an emergency. The SES just wants the return to a supporting structure that brings self-direction based on community need. The current structure does not do that in the majority of SES Volunteers opinions.
From the SES Volunteers Association, we wish you all safe passage knowing that an orange army volunteer is only too happy help with many things in our communities.