First edition Phoenix now available online

With the Phoenix’s move to a digital format, it reminded us to look back to where it all started. We’ve now uploaded Edition 1 from 1987 for members to read and download with the aim to eventually digitally archive all editions to preserve the Journals history. To view or download the first edition, simply login select vintage editions from the Phoenix menu. Thanks to SES Craigieburn Unit for letting us view the Phoenix collection at the VICSES Museum. If anyone has any historic information about The Phoenix or VESA, please email [email protected], we’d love to hear from you.


VICSES statement: Port Campbell

A statement from Chief Officer, Tim Wiebusch, following the tragic loss of two VICSES volunteers in Port Campbell.

Victoria State Emergency (VICSES) is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of two VICSES volunteers this morning, responding to a rescue in their capacity as Life Saving Victoria volunteers.

VICSES volunteers, management and staff express their deepest sympathies to their family, friends and fellow VICSES members at the Port Campbell Unit.

These two members were dedicated and respected volunteers and their loss will be felt, not only across our organisation, but throughout the community.

VICSES thoughts are also with the third Life Saving Victoria volunteer and his family, after he was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries.

He has also served his community for many years as a VICSES and CFA volunteer.

VICSES has offered support to both the familes involved and volunteers at the unit, as well as our partners at Life Saving Victoria.

We ask that the privacy of the families and members of the unit be respected during this difficult time.

Tim Wiebusch 

Victoria State Emergency Service Chief Officer 


The Phoenix has gone digital!

As Phoenix moves into a contemporary online format, it is worth noting the significant volunteer contribution that has been made to the State of Victoria and its local communities for many decades.

This inaugural online edition of Phoenix looks back at a selection of previously published articles and celebrates the enormous range of SES volunteers’ skills and abilities that continue to build civic cohesion, keep communities safe, work effectively with other agencies, and add value to the lived experience of individuals, in groups and neighbourhoods.

To view the latest copy of the Phoenix please login or register.


VICSES sees decade-long surge in women joining the volunteer…

Providing emergency assistance and supporting other vital services has led to the number of women volunteering at Victoria State Emergency Service (VicSES) leap from about 700 a decade ago to about 1,687 women in 2019.

The VicSES manager of regional operations and readiness, Craig Hooper, said there were a number of reasons for the increase in women volunteers.

“It’s attributed to the programs that we offer and the management of these units,” he said, “and recognising the skill sets that females bring to our organisation to lead our volunteer units.”

Across the decade, the number of women in leadership roles has nearly doubled to 107 — now making up about a quarter of all leaders in the organisation.

“The skill sets you gain with the State Emergency Service, they’re not just to be used through this organisation,” he said.

“They’re skills for life.”

Read the full article at


Broadmeadows SES members attend 10th anniversary memorial service

Members of Broadmeadows SES attended the memorial service for the 10th anniversary of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires at the Royal Exhibition Building.

In 2009, the Broadmeadows SES Unit was called on to provide assistance with ground support, staging and equipment.

We remember those who lost their lives and livelihoods and thank all the emergency services personnel who gave countless hours to fighting the worst bushfire in Australia’s history.

Article and images courtesy of Broadmeddows Unit Facebook Page:


Mildura SES service awards

Last night Mildura SES celebrated an amazing service achievement of our members.
We congratulate Graeme and Gillian who have both achieved 30 Years of active and dedicated service this month and applaud Michael (Unit Controller) and Salty Moore who both achieved 35 years of dedicated service. Without the commitment shown by these Volunteers and most importantly their respective families and workplaces, the Unit would not be what it is today.

(L-R Graeme Matotek, Gillian Clapp and Michael Hellwege (Salty Moore – Absent)

Article and images courtesy of Mildura Unit Facebook Page:


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”.