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 (www.change.org/p/victorianpublic-your-support-for-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 

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