South Australia’s State Emergency Service (SES) will be future-proofed with a multimillion-dollar investment to ensure that the number of vital volunteers remains strong and resilient for generations to come.
Additional funding of $4.4 million over five years from 2020-21 has been provided in the State Budget 2021-22 to increase volunteer numbers and improve experiences for new and existing SES members.
Funding supports the implementation of the program New Pathways: Volunteering Recruitment and Retention.
Minister for Emergency Services, Vincent Tarzia, said the program will support the recruitment and retention of volunteers and help implement new volunteering options for responding to emergencies.
“The SES is a proud and dedicated volunteer organisation whose members protect lives, homes, businesses, critical infrastructure and livestock during emergency events,” Minister Tarzia said.
“It’s impossible to count the amount of times our incredible SES volunteers have saved lives – they are the backbone of the state’s response to disasters.”
“This money will strengthen the SES to ensure it continues to have the capability and capacity to respond effectively and quickly to state emergencies.”
The program will mix new and exciting approaches to volunteering with tested, evidence-based workforce development strategies in order to boost membership. This will target both improved retention of current trained volunteers and increased recruitment of new volunteers.
To cater to younger generations, new volunteering options will be implemented to complement the traditional volunteering model, offering greater flexibility to accommodate the different lifestyles and employment commitments of young people.
SES Chief Officer Chris Beattie welcomed the additional funding from the Marshall Government.
“This is an important and significant investment in the SES. Our volunteers are the service’s lifeblood and provide critical capabilities across the state responding to a range of emergencies 24/7,” Mr Beattie said.
“The New Pathways program is a landmark initiative that will support measures to attract, recruit and retain members, helping sustain the SES well into the future.
“The program will also allow the adoption of emerging models for volunteering and provide novel approaches to engaging with young people and provide new pathways into membership of the service.”
Minister Tarzia said: “Originally established as SA Civil Defence in 1962, SES as it is known today commenced in 1974. The Marshall Liberal Government is proud to support SES volunteers with this funding to ensure the next generation of members can carry on its traditions and services well into the future.”
“Many SES volunteers have notched up decades worth of experience and service to the community and there’s a wealth of knowledge that’s just waiting to be tapped into,” he said.
“In the past year alone, SES volunteers have stepped up to support SAPOL and SA Health to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, while others have continued in their more traditional roles responding to extreme weather events, road crashes, water rescues and land search operations.”
Approximately 1,700 volunteers are based in 67 units across the state. This financial year highly trained SES volunteers were deployed interstate to help with storms in Queensland, floods in New South Wales and a cyclone in Western Australia.
The SES responded to 6,730 incidents to assist South Australians in 2020. Volunteers performed 739 rescues, removed 3,553 downed trees, attended 512 road crash rescues and helped in 45 searches.
“I encourage anyone interested in contributing more to their community to consider joining the SES by visiting www.ses.sa.go.au/volunteer or calling the volunteer hotline on 1300 364 587,” Minister Tarzia said.