Representing the needs of sturt ses volunteers

Mr DULUK (Waite ) (15:22): My question is to the Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services. Can the Minister please update the House on how the State Government is supporting the SES across South Australia who have seen a reduction in their active volunteer hours due to COVID-19 responsibilities? Sir, with your leave and that of the house, I will further explain.

Mr DULUK: Recently I met with my local Sturt CFS group to discuss their constraints and needs. They mentioned that the state government has been using volunteers to help with COVID-19 related activities such as airport and medi-hotel assistance. What is the Government doing to support local SES branches who have lost active volunteer hours due to these volunteers working in COVID-related roles?

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA (Hartley Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services) (15:23): I thank the Member for Waite for the question and I do appreciate his interest in this area. I have had the great pleasure of visiting some of his SES units in recent times. Obviously, our SES are highly trained. If you look just overnight, they have been involved in incidents right across South Australia. Obviously, in the cold and wet conditions, hail, we had water entering properties and, whilst most of us were tucked away in bed, many of our volunteers were out there in the hundreds attending to dozens of incidents overnight. I thank them for that.

But as the Member has pointed out, in recent times, we have all had to make adjustments and our SES have been fundamental in being able to bolster our SAPOL capability in recent times. They have provided absolutely crucial assistance with some of our COVID operational roles, and before that, they have actually also assisted with Operation Nomad during the bushfire season. Obviously, you remember we had over 80 persons of interest and our SES played a fundamental role in being able to assist SAPOL during that time. I couldn't be more proud of our emergency service volunteers across the board, especially during the last 12 to 18 months. They have answered the call whenever anything has been asked of them.

 

I believe it was about 42 members who have been employed on short-term contracts. I believe we have had three short terms and I have no reason to think otherwise. I believe that that term will also roll over to the fourth short term. Many of these volunteers, for the first time, have actually been able to work shoulder to shoulder and bring their professional skills and incorporate them into what SAPOL are doing. We couldn't do it without them. They play an absolutely pivotal role in managing the emergency situations that we have at the moment.

In response to the Member's query and in terms of training and local activity, it goes without saying that volunteering across the State and across the country, volunteering and engaging with membership is something that all governments of all persuasions need to continue to work on. We will certainly be working with that organisation to make sure that we can do what we can to provide support so that we can grow volunteers into the future.

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