House of Representatives Speech- Isaacs Electorate: Emergency Services 2013

Thousands of Country Fire Authority and State Emergency Service volunteers provide tremendous and selfless service to communities across Victoria. On 9 November I attended the Diamond Jubilee of the Chelsea Unit of the Victorian State Emergency Service. Joining with Phil Wall, from the SES, Ron Fitch, the unit controller, and the many volunteers and their family members, we celebrated the success of the unit and the great work that they have been doing in our community for 60 years. As well as responding to local emergencies, our volunteers give their time to assist with emergencies in other locations around Victoria, including at the Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday bushfires, and sometimes interstate.

Thousands of Country Fire Authority and State Emergency Service volunteers provide tremendous and selfless service to communities across Victoria. On 9 November I attended the Diamond Jubilee of the Chelsea Unit of the Victorian State Emergency Service. Joining with Phil Wall, from the SES, Ron Fitch, the unit controller, and the many volunteers and their family members, we celebrated the success of the unit and the great work that they have been doing in our community for 60 years. As well as responding to local emergencies, our volunteers give their time to assist with emergencies in other locations around Victoria, including at the Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday bushfires, and sometimes interstate.

The evening also provided an occasion to present long-service awards to members with five, 10 and 20 years of service. No matter how long our volunteers have served, each and every one of them deserves our thanks for their hard work and dedication. The unit's commemorative booklet Storms, Floods, Chainsaws and Sandbags was launched at the diamond jubilee and records 60 years of community service. The SES units around Victoria provide an invaluable service to our community as first responders during floods, bushfires and storms. They also assist police at traffic accidents, with their expertise and specialised hydraulic gear such as the jaws of life.

On the same weekend, I attended the emergency medical response vehicle commissioning and recruit graduation at the CFA's Edithvale Fire Brigade. Joining with Graham Fountain, the brigade's captain, and Craig Lapsley, the Victorian Fire Services Commissioner, I congratulated the new round of graduates. They recently completed their basic training and are now ready to protect and serve our community. The new emergency response vehicle gives the CFA the ability to respond to medical emergencies during fires and to assist with other incidents that are medical emergencies at other times.

There is a piece of folk wisdom on the website of the Chelsea SES which speaks of the value of our volunteers. It is relevant to the brave Australians who risk their lives assisting others in emergencies as well as all the volunteers who support our community in so many ways—in health, sport, schools, community care and too many others to list. The statement reads:

As a wiser person than me once said regarding volunteers, It's not that we don't pay them because they're worthless; we don't pay them because they're priceless, and why do we do what we do, I guess the simple answer is—someone has to!

I acknowledge and thank all of Australia's emergency service volunteers for their dedication to supporting the Australian community in times of need.