SES pay call
Plea for emergency volunteers to turn pro
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.