Commitment, dedication and community spirit has been celebrated in Townsville today with emergency responders converging on The Strand for Wear Orange Wednesday (WoW Day) to thank State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers and to show appreciation to all emergency services volunteers during National Volunteer Week.
Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Mark Ryan joined SES volunteers as well as local Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), Coast Guard, Volunteer Marine Rescue, Queensland Police Service and Surf Lifesaving Queensland representatives for a water-based display of the region’s rescue vessels followed by a barbecue and community engagement display.
“WoW Day and National Volunteer Week is an opportunity for all Queenslanders to thank their local SES and other emergency services volunteers for their dedication and community safety efforts,” Mr Ryan said.
“Last year, SES volunteers in Queensland dedicated a massive 466,991 hours to storm and flood responses, missing person searches, rescue efforts and COVID-19 border operations.
“Without the commitment shown by our SES and other emergency services volunteers, the comprehensive level of support our communities receive simply wouldn’t be possible.”
WoW Day occurs as part of National Volunteer Week, which is Australia’s largest celebration of volunteers to recognise their important contributions.
“National Volunteer Week is occurring from May 17 to 23 this year to thank those who put their lives on hold to help us in times of need,” Mr Ryan said.
“National Volunteer Week is particularly important to QFES, which counts more than 35,000 volunteers among its ranks across the Rural Fire Service (RFS), SES and Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) and another 35,000 across partner organisations like Coast Guard, Volunteer Marine Rescue and Surf Lifesaving Queensland.”
Member for Mundingburra Les Walker thanked volunteers for the important community safety work they do.
“Volunteers certainly don’t seek the limelight or chase accolades but it’s important we recognise the sacrifices they make to ensure Queenslanders are kept safe,” Mr Walker said.
“A great way Queenslanders can show their support is by saying thanks to volunteers they know and enquire about how they too can volunteer and give back to their community.”
QFES Commissioner Greg Leach expressed his gratitude for the support volunteers provided to Queensland every single year.
“WoW Day and National Volunteer Week shines a light on those who give so much, so freely, so often and I want to thank them for all that they do,” Mr Leach said.
“QFES volunteers often go above and beyond to help those in time of need, and WoW Day and National Volunteer Week is one way the community can show its appreciation for the service they provide.”
Mr Leach said volunteering was an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience.
“Our volunteers gain so much satisfaction from helping the community become better prepared for the next natural disaster or emergency,” he said.
“They also have the opportunity to learn valuable skills, develop lifelong friendships and expand their professional networks.
“To those thinking of volunteering with QFES, I encourage them to take the next step and enquire about what role may be suitable for them.”
While in Townsville, Minister Ryan saw first-hand the region’s enhanced remotely piloted aircraft response capability, with QFES personnel conducting a drone demonstration.
“QFES has purchased an additional seven drones for the Northern Region,” Mr Ryan said.
“In addition to funding provided by QFES, Woolworths also contributed $5,000 toward this investment, which will go a long way to assisting our SES, RFS and FRS staff and volunteers with intelligence gathering at incidents. Thank you to Woolies for this generous contribution.”
Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said the enhanced drone capability would give dedicated emergency service volunteers the tools they need to keep the community safe.
“As a volunteer with Queensland Ambulance Service, I understand the commitment and dedication our emergency services volunteers make to our local community,” Mr Harper said.
“They are our true heroes who should be commended for the tireless work they do especially in responding to calls for service or in response to natural disasters of which North Queensland is no stranger.
“SES and RFS members in Townsville are currently undertaking training to operate the new equipment, which will allow those working on the ground during disasters and search and rescue operations to better understand the scope and scale of the incident and better target effective response measures.
“It’s important that our emergency services personnel are equipped with innovative and progressive tools that assist Queenslanders.”