SES pay call

Plea for emer­gency vol­un­teers to turn pro

Townsville Bulletin - - Front Page - by Natalie Wynne

STATE Emer­gency Ser­vice work­ers could be paid in a set-up sim­i­lar to the Army Re­serve un­der a pro­posal de­signed to boost vol­un­teer num­bers.

Emer­gency re­sponse to re­cent wild weather, in­clud­ing Cy­clone Yasi and flash flood­ing, was hin­dered by not enough vol­un­teer work­ers turn­ing out when called upon.

Townsville City Coun­cil’s Com- mu­nity Safety chair­man Cr Dale Last said the vol­un­teer group should be­gin pay­ing its peo­ple to en­sure they were ready and able in peo­ple’s dark­est hour of need.

Cr Last said Cy­clone Yasi high­lighted the fact the ser­vice needed more mem­bers. ‘‘ The prob­lem we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing is peo­ple are now time-poor and a lot of other or­gan­i­sa­tions are in the same boat with peo­ple strug­gling to give up their time,’’ he said.

He said pay­ment would make the ail­ing ser­vice more at­trac­tive to join. ‘‘ It would pro­vide some form of re­mu­ner­a­tion and pro­vide in­cen­tive for peo­ple to join and we need more peo­ple, there’s no ques­tion about that,’’ he said.

SES lo­cal con­troller Joyce Scorey said she was happy with the ser­vice’s re­sponse dur­ing the re­cent wild weather.

‘‘ Over­all, we did very well I think the only is­sues with that was the pub­lic ex­pec­ta­tion that the SES can do any­thing and ev­ery­thing,’’ she said.

‘‘ How­ever we were a bit thin on the ground, which is nor­mal for this time of year.’’

Ms Scorey said while the prospect of be­ing paid for their work would en­tice new mem­bers to the ser­vices, it wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily bring with it a higher level of re­cruit.

‘‘ I think it will have a detri­men­tal ef­fect,’’ she said.

Cr Last, who is also the Lo­cal Disas­ter Man­age­ment Group chair­man , urged the State Gov­ern­ment to get be­hind the call.

‘‘ It’s been the sub­ject of pre­vi­ous dis­cus­sion, but I think in the washup of all the dis­as­ters Queens­land has ex­pe­ri­enced this year, I think it’s some­thing that should be dis­cussed,’’ he said.

Emer­gency Ser­vices Min­is­ter Neil Roberts said he pre­ferred the SES re­mained a vol­un­teer or­gan­i­sa­tion.

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