A $200 million funding commitment by the NSW Government will see Surf Life Saving NSW, along with the state’s other volunteer and emergency service organisations, receive additional budget to aid existing and future disaster response efforts.

Directly addressing the independent NSW Flood Inquiry, the commitment will assist to ensure emergency services are better equipped to respond and support impacted communities in the events of floods and other natural disasters.

Tangible outcomes that will come from this announcement for SLSNSW include the procurement of flood rescue and specialised incident management personal protective equipment (PPE), advanced training for lifesavers, and telecommunications upgrades to assist the SLSNSW State Operations Centre (SOC).

“The funding injection is much needed, and we thank the NSW Government for their support. This funding will enable SLSNSW to mobilise our 21,000 frontline lifesavers who are trained to undertake aquatic rescues,” SLSNSW CEO, Steve Pearce said.

“Our volunteers have worked tirelessly and with unquestioned dedication across several state-wide and localised flood emergencies over the past 18 months, so for this to be recognised by the NSW Government, it lays the platform for us to expand our role as a key support agency in flood rescue and make a greater impact on future response efforts,” SLSNSW President, George Shales OAM said.

NSW Premier, Dom Perrottet said that the independent inquiry had illustrated a clear need to enhance the state’s flood rescue capability.

“Events of this year alone show that the conditions we are facing and the magnitude of the natural disasters need this level of support to ensure our frontline agencies are well-placed to continue delivering for the community,” he said.

Far North Coast Duty Officer, Chris Samuels is one of the many volunteer lifesavers to benefit from the commitment, having already served in the flood response efforts alongside Cabarita SLSC member, Darren Hood in Moree in October.

He said that being prepared for any situation is incredibly important – a skillset that the advanced training set to be delivered as part of the funding commitment will assist in building.

“I really applaud the fact that we will be equipped with the same flood rescue PPE as other organisations as this is what we needed the most,” he said.

“Initially we were deployed for four days, and we were around there the first couple of days thinking our role would be minor, then all the water came through and we were isolated along with the rest of the town.

“It went from having very little to do to being lucky we stayed because it was one of the more significant floods that the town had experienced.

“The days were big; we were so focused on helping the town.

“We did a bit of training in the early stages which gave us some further operational confidence in the boat, and then we played a big role in rescues, welfare checks and evacuations.

“You don’t do this sort of work for the gratitude or the pat on the back, I just do it to help the community. To have Surf Life Saving NSW working in these sorts of areas, it’s another way that we can assist people.”

Funding is set to be expended over the coming 18 months, while work is already underway to integrate new technological systems into the SOC to further aid emergency deployment.

Thursday 22 December 2022