After more than 30 years with the NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES), Matthew Chifley of the Queanbeyan Unit has been awarded the Emergency Services Medal (ESM) in the 2021 Australia Day Honours list.
Joining the service in 1988, Matthew, or ‘Pockets’ as he is known to many, is a passionate and committed member of the NSW SES, having held a number of roles as both a volunteer and a staff member including Region Learning and Development Officer, Alpine Coordinator and Zone Training Advisor on top of his volunteering commitments to the Service.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott congratulated NSW SES member Matthew Chifley who has been honoured for his service.
“Over the past year we have seen exceptional heroism from our Police and Emergency Services who were on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic and the catastrophic bush fires,” Mr Elliott said.
“This is an opportunity to recognise those who have put their lives on the line to protect the community – and this honour is a reflection of our gratitude and thanks for their professionalism and selflessness.”
“Matthew exemplifies the resilience and mateship that is integral to our community. On behalf of the people of NSW, I’d like to thank our police officers, emergency services personnel and volunteers for their ongoing service, and reinforce the Government’s commitment to providing our frontline agencies with the resources they need to keep our communities safe.”
NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York considers Matthew to be a very deserving recipient of the prestigious medal.
“It is inspiring to see a member of Matthew’s calibre within our Service being awarded the Emergency Service Medal. I congratulate Matthew on his award and thank him for his dedication and passion which he has shown to the Service for over the last three decades,” said Commissioner York.
Commissioner York added that Matthew has also been involved in many field and incident teams with his time with the NSW SES.
“There is unlikely to be a significant emergency event in the last 30 years that ‘Pockets’ hasn’t responded to. Notably, the 1989 Newcastle Earthquake and the 1997 Thredbo Landslide. Two tragic events in our States history where he demonstrated determination, leadership, kindness and courage,” Commissioner York said.
In the aftermath of the Newcastle earthquake Matthew helped people who were trapped under collapsed street fronts. Following the tragic Thredbo Landslide Matthew’s team arrived early on the first day, staying for the majority of the following two weeks. He undertook high-risk activities to divert water and helped to ensure that the scene was preserved ahead of the Coroner’s inquest.
Over the years Matthew has responded to many flood and storms across NSW, as well as being a valued member of specialist NSW SES rescue teams such as Road Crash Rescue and Vertical Rescue. He is always ready and willing to assist and spent countless hours in support of the NSW Rural Fire Service during the devastating 2019-2020 Bushfire Season.
NSW SES South Eastern Zone Commander, Colin Malone praised Matthew for his commitment to the NSW SES and for sharing his wealth of expertise by mentoring the next generations of leaders.
“Pockets typifies what it is to be an NSW SES volunteer, through his dedication and commitment to community, the service and fellow volunteers above self. He is the first to put his hand up to assist in all instances of emergencies and is seen to many as a mentor, passing on his expertise to his fellow volunteers,” said Mr Malone.
The NSW SES congratulates Matthew on his Emergency Service Medal and would like to congratulate all the Australia Day 2021 honour roll recipients being recognised today.