Volunteer Compensation should be extended to SES members
The recently announced Federal Government scheme to compensate volunteer firefighters in some states should be extended nationally and should include volunteer members of the State Emergency Service (SES).
“The National SES Volunteers Association (NSESVA), representing more than 30,000 SES Volunteers across Australia, believe that SES Volunteers should be reimbursed where they lose income, or for out of pocket expenses, in extended response to emergency events, whether it be for fire support, flood, storm, tsunami or earthquake” said NSESVA President Gordon Hall.
This fire season SES volunteers have been working for extended periods around the country supporting firefighting operations, taking members away from work, family and other commitments. Like Fire volunteers, SES members in the workforce forgo income to serve and protect the community. When this happens for extended periods, it becomes a burden on them, their families and employers.
Mr Hall continued “There needs to be equity for all emergency response personnel, including the SES Volunteers across the country”
Mr Hall added “Whilst SES volunteers generally do not want payment for their services, they also believe that being a volunteer should not be a financial burden to themselves or their families.”
There are rigorous processes to screen new SES Volunteers with obligations for members to attend training and operations which protects against abuse of this scheme.
The NSESVA believes there should be no payment to volunteers for their service in volunteering to their community, however reimbursement for lost income and out of pocket expenses, within a set criterion is to be supported.
“The NSESVA is severely disappointed about this scheme being formulated without wider consultation and we call upon the Federal Government to urgently meet with the emergency responder peak volunteer bodies, to discuss and provide their knowledge and experience as input to the Federal Government scheme.” said Mr Hall
“The new normal of extended, environment-related incidents around the country requires more volunteers over longer periods of time. A uniform national scheme is necessary to compensate Fire and SES Volunteers for loss of income is fair when the community is relying on volunteer efforts, particularly for survival. The alternative of more full-time or paid standby emergency personnel would be significantly more in cost.” Mr Hall concluded.
Gordon Hall ESM
Chairman – Board of Directors
National SES Volunteers Association