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SES hoping for more Aboriginal volunteers

Friday, 27th March, 2009

The State Emergency Service (SES) is looking to expand its Indigenous Training Project to attract more volunteers from culturally diverse communities, including Wilcannia. NSW Emergency Services Minister, Steve Whan, said yesterday that the training project had so far attracted about 60 new SES members from Aboriginal communities around NSW, as well as raising awareness of the Service's role.

"The SES has worked to develop relationships with Indigenous community leaders and boost its Indigenous representation by providing Aboriginal people with targeted SES induction, first aid and rescue training courses," he said. "As well as bolstering SES numbers, this program has helped empower local Indigenous communities by helping them develop skills that will make them more resilient in the event of floods, storms and other emergencies."

The first course was run in 2007 in Moree, where 14 Aboriginal volunteers joined the local unit after completing the program, which condensed the usual 12 month SES induction and general rescue training into an intensive two-week training block. "This year the program will be expanded to communities in Condobolin, Cowra, Lake Cargellico, Tingha, Albury, Tabulam, Wilcannia and Wentworth. "The program will be boosted with the appointment of the first SES Indigenous Liaison Officer, Mr Carl Ralph, a Koori officer who will be based in Moree and whose role will be to co-ordinate and roll out Indigenous training around the State."

Mr Whan said the SES was now keen to investigate whether this model could be adapted to attract more members and build awareness of the service and its work in culturally and linguistically diverse communities. He said in this economic climate, the SES's nationally recognised and accredited training was increasingly valuable. "This training provides volunteers with adaptable and transferable skills that are increasingly attractive to employers, who recognise the value of the practical experience and leadership qualities our volunteers demonstrate.

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