Closure of the Volunteer Association Shop

For over two decades, the Volunteer Association has operated the VESA Shop with a primary focus of supplying all VICSES members with the approved non-uniform items listed within the VICSES Clothing Catalogue (such as polo’s, beanies, volunteer uniform items) and associated memorabilia (e.g.: plaques, etc.) in collaboration with VICSES.

Processes have remained largely manual and reliant on a small cohort of volunteers to administer the Shop. Changes with suppliers requiring larger quantities before orders could be filled, long lead times for adhoc items and pre-payment requirements have proved challenging. Servicing member needs became difficult when the shop ran out of most stock and had to receive orders from customers and retype them into purchase orders, which were then forwarded to the supplier where changes in staff and fluctuating availability of stock led to delays in orders being received and items being backordered without the Shop being advised. Whilst the VESA Shop had explored online ordering systems, this had become cost prohibitive to fully integrate this with suppliers.

In an effort to continually improve the Volunteer experience VICSESVA and VICSES have worked together to streamline the process to obtain VICSES casual wear. VICSES and VICSESVA have recently reached agreement to close the VESA Shop with VICSES supporting the buy-out a small amount of existing stock along with transitioning key approved product items within the VICSES Clothing Manual (e.g.: polos, shorts, etc.) to our VICSES Buy Online arrangements. VICSES will leverage its existing supplier contracts to now provide these items ongoing through existing Uniform and PPC&E contracts.

On behalf of all members, I wish to thank the VICSES Volunteer Association (VICSESVA), and in particular, those who have run the VESA Shop on a voluntary basis including the final shop manager Chris Patton, for providing this valuable service to our members over many years.

Tim Wiebusch
Chief Officer Operations

To view the full operations update, please visit the link below to download the update from the VICSES Hub.


2019 Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey Now Open

To all VICSES volunteers:

Many of you have taken part in VicSESVA’s Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey in previous years. These surveys have been a great success and you are now invited to take part in our fourth survey which opens this week and runs until October 14.

You can also help us by spreading the word and encouraging other volunteers to respond to the survey – the more responses, the more impact the results will have, so please encourage other volunteers to take part.

VicSESVA, VICSES, EMV and Government study the survey report for trends in volunteer opinion on how well they are being treated and how well they are being supported by VICSES. The EMV website has details of the 2017 sector-wide report (, which identified that a high percentage of volunteers are satisfied with their volunteer role at the local level and intend to continue. The report states that volunteer expectations are most closely met within their local teams, with strong results around teams being volunteer-friendly and welcoming, and in relation to diversity, equality and not tolerating bullying.

Opportunities for improvement were identified as well, with the results identifying that emergency management volunteers would like to see increased access to and flexibility of training, and greater and more meaningful engagement in corporate decisions that impact them.

The sector reports are available for government and agencies to better understand volunteers’ perspectives and to continue to work to ensure volunteers are valued and supported.

The Volunteer Welfare and Efficiency Survey began with the CFA volunteers’ association, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) seven years ago, and now for the fourth year VFBV is hosting the survey on behalf of VicSESVA. VicSESVA appreciates the support by VFBV and our common aim of supporting volunteers.

Each year, there are more participants in the survey – which means a steadily growing influence with the State’s decision makers. To obtain a copy of previous VicSESVA survey results please email [email protected] or login via the website, and browse to Library > Documents.

All responses are confidential and will be analysed independently of VicSESVA, who will be provided with aggregated results. VicSESVA will utilise the survey results to advocate on behalf of VICSES volunteers.

If you do not have access to the internet, we can send you a paper copy, please request this from the secretary Faye Bendrups on 0435 964 455.

Members who have registered in previous surveys will have received an email direct from VFBV with a custom link.

Survey is available until close of business on Monday 14 October 2019.

Survey Link:

Victorian Volunteer Strategy

Victorian Volunteer Strategy – consultation open

The Victorian Government has a 2018 Election commitment to develop and implement a Volunteer Strategy to support and enhance volunteerism in Victoria.

The strategy will be informed by extensive consultation across the Victorian public and volunteering community, seeking deep insights into the challenges and opportunities for volunteers, community members, and managers of volunteers and organisations.

Online consultation is open on Engage Victoria until 24 November 2019, and we encourage you to have your say – as community members, volunteers, or leaders of community organisations. There are two surveys to capture insights from different groups with an interest in volunteering:

  • Volunteering leadership and support – seeking input on the strategic or operational leadership of volunteering, and feedback on how we can support and strengthen volunteering.
  • Community life and volunteering – seeking all views and experiences from the Victorian public, from a wide range of perspectives, including if they have never volunteered.

Phoenix Journals from 2005 to 2019 are now available

The VA has just uploaded Phoenix Journals from 2019 to 2005. They are available on the VA website for members to download at anytime. The older editions are available under the phoenix menu (labeled previous editions) and appear once logged in. Work is still continuing to upload the remaining issues from 1987 to 2004. For any assistance please email [email protected]

Wear Orange Wednesday 2019

On Wednesday 22nd May, all Australians are encouraged to wear orange in a united show of thanks for the tremendous work done and commitment shown by SES volunteers.
Wear Orange Wednesday (WOW Day) is a national day of thanks for the many Victoria State Emergency Services (VICSES) volunteers who support their local communities during flood, storm, landslide, road rescue, search and rescue, and more.
In Victoria, SES volunteers responded to more than 31,000 calls for assistance last year, equalling a total of 302,623 operational hours.

Show your support for SES volunteers by wearing something orange on Wednesday, 22 May.

Landmarks in Melbourne and across the country will be ‘flooded’ in orange this WOW Day in support of SES volunteers, including the MCG, AAMI Park, Bolte Bridge and the Melbourne Star.

  • Events and morning teas will also be held throughout the state.
  • Take a photo and tag it with #thankyouSES
  • Change your profile picture to support WOW Day.
  • Send a message of thanks to SES volunteers on social media include the #thankyouSES hashtag.

Marong Unit becomes 103rd VICSES Principal Road Crash Rescue…

It has been very busy for the members from Marong SES, with plenty of big news items to share.

It’s official! Our unit yesterday became the 103rd Principal Road Crash Rescue Provider from VICSES, the 133rd in Victoria.

Our Unit also witnessed a changing of the guard, with our outgoing Unit Controller Kevin standing down after 10 distinguished years at the head of the Unit. Members welcomed Daniel into the position, we look forward to working with you to take the unit to the next level. Our members would like to thank Kevin for his time at the helm, his guidance and mentorship.

Before handing over the reigns, Kevin delivered one final gift. Our generously donated equipment from AAMI, helping us to fill our lockers with equipment to assist with keeping our members, and the wider community safe.

We’d like to thank our Chief Officer Operations, Tim Wiebusch for coming up to meet the members, facilitate the handover of leadership and the presentation of our certificate from our first Road Rescue Capability Assessment. We’d also like to thank the staff from our Regional Office for coming out for the special event.

Finally, we wouldn’t be here without the hard work from our volunteers. Hold your heads high team, it sure is an amazing accomplishment over the past couple of years to get where we are now, here’s to the future.

Article and images courtesy of Marong Unit Facebook Page:

From the Chair

This is my final column as the outgoing Independent Chair ofVicSESVA, but I remain in VicSESVA as Secretary and will continue the work of representing and advocating for volunteers in Victoria and at the national level. I thank all the volunteers and colleagues who have supported me in this role; it has truly been a team effort. At the recent VicSESVA Annual General Meeting new officers were elected: I welcome the new Chair David Rowlands, Treasurer Ann Hinsch, Central West Director Ray Desem and East Director Mitch Darragh. Chris Brown and Chris Patton continue their excellent representation as Director North East, and VESA Shop Manager and task force delegate respectively. 

There have also been recent changes to leadership at Emergency Management Victoria, with Commissioner Craig Lapsley being replaced with incoming Commissioner Andrew Crisp. VicSESVA welcomes the opportunity to work with the new Commissioner and acknowledges the significant legacy left by Craig Lapsley. Craig Lapsley has been a positive force for change in Victorian Emergency Management and has always put volunteers in the centre of operations and planning. His close involvement with and respect for volunteers has been evident in their inclusion in numerous consultative processes. For VicSESVA, this has included representation and contribution to committees, working groups and advisory bodies and being able to make the voice of the SES volunteer heard in multiple forums. VicSESVA officers have been welcomed as influential members of groups which developed the Victorian Volunteer Statement, the Volunteer Consultative Forum, the 3Vs Project and advocacy for the sector-wide expansion of the VFBV Volunteer welfare and Efficiency Survey. These opportunities have been facilitated by Craig Lapsley. Further, many of the sector changes since Black Saturday have been led by the determined vision of Mr Lapsley with a steady and direct sense of privileging action over bureaucracy. A social media campaign acknowledging the work of Craig Lapsley ( refers to his significant contribution to the safety of the Victorian public, wishing to show gratitude, respect, support and appreciation for his work, a sentiment that has been echoed by many SES volunteers around Victoria in recent weeks. VicSESVA acknowledges the achievements of Victoria’s first Emergency Management Commissioner Lapsley and looks forward to an equally productive relationship with the incoming Commissioner Crisp. 

Faye Bendrups 

Independent Chair, VicSESVA 

Chelsea Controller Ron Fitch Citizen of the Year 2018

What an amazing year it has been for Chelsea SES Controller, Ron Fitch. In July 2017, Ron was made a life member of the Victoria State Emergency Service, recognising his 25 years of service, as well as his continuous support of units outside of his own, that has seen him actively involved in almost every deployment throughout Victoria over the last 15 years, as well as interstate deployments including South Australia and New South Wales. Over the years, Ron has been a part of several SES working groups, including vehicle and fleet, as well as a working group that investigated the information ESTA operators obtain when speaking with complainants regarding calls for assistance from SES. Ron’s commitment to his community through VICSES is unwavering and his determination to see the Chelsea unit volunteers deliver best practise support through training and mentoring, is as strong today as ever. In January 2018, Ron was named City of Kingston, Outstanding Citizen of the Year, honouring him for his fantastic service to the local community. At a wonderful, Australia Day breakfast, Ron was presented with his award by City of Kingston Mayor, Councillor Steve Staikos who spoke in glowing terms of Ron’s relationship with Council and how his role as Controller of the Chelsea Unit has seen a continuous growth in their ability to service the increasing needs of an ever-growing community. And now, Ron’s dedication has been 1 recognised once again, this time by the Premier of Victoria, as a recipient of a Victorian Premier’s Volunteer Champions Award for 2018 in the Service Category On the 9th of September, Ron escorted his 93-year-old Mum as well as his son and daughter to Government House for a reception hosted by the Governor of Victoria. Ron’s award was presented by The Parliamentary Secretary for Volunteers, Ms Gabrielle Williams MP and also in attendance was Victoria’s new Emergency Management Commissioner, Andrew Crisp. Ron was nominated by local State member of Parliament, Tim Richardson who said, “Ron is certainly one of the most deserving people I know to be recognised in this way, this is exactly what these awards are about, saying thank you in a very public way to the selfless Victorian volunteers who give so much”. Ron said, “I am very humbled to be receiving this award and it certainly came out of left field, it is certainly has been an amazing year”. Phil Wall said, “after this, the only thing that is missing will be Ron getting the Gold Logie next year or maybe the Brownlow”.


Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp Started at EMV

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp has been appointed Emergency Management Commissioner. During service with Victoria Police of over 40 years he gas a diverse and distinguished career. Deputy Commissions Crisp was awarded the Australian Police Medal in 2012 and was appointed Deputy Commissioner in charge of regional operations in 2015.

He has also worked with the Royal PNG Constabulary and the UN in East Timor. Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said “I would like to thank Andrew for his dedicated services to Victoria Police and the Victorian community over his distinguished career and wish him all the very best in this next chapter of his career. We look forward to working with Andrew as the Emergency Management Commissioner.” Andrew Crisp has been a member of the State Emergency Management Team, State Coordination Team and co-chair of the Emergency Management Joint Public Information Committee working through major fires such as Wye River. Her has been involved in the response to a number of major incidents, such as the Ash Wednesday Bushfires, the 2009 Victorian Bushfires, Christchurch earthquake, Queensland floods and Bourke Street. Commissioner Crisp described his start this week: “I have been warmly welcomed by people across the sector. I have attended a number of events and seen first-hand just how broad our sector is. It’s been great to connect with people from Lifesaving Victoria, CFA and local councils just to name a few…What has been clear to me is the pride and passion in our people. Together, we have an opportunity to make a huge impact across communities”. He referred to the upcoming fire season and the need to work together: “We are also focused on the health and safety of our emergency management personnel so that they are able to continue to protect and respond to the community in emergencies. Looking after people is so important to me. I’m really looking forward to listening to you, learning from you and working with you”.