Supporting emergency service volunteers

May 24, 2018

Roly’s Mobiles staff Josh Stanfield, Damien Lea, James Boler and Shannon Baldwin are all volunteer members of the SES or Shepparton Search and Rescue.

Accidents and emergencies don’t obey the nine-to-five clock.

With so many of Shepparton’s local emergency services dependent on volunteers, those volunteers are often dependent on the goodwill of their employers to perform their volunteering duties.

Every Roly’s Mobiles staff on High Street is a member of either the State Emergency Services or Shepparton Search and Rescue.

When an emergency strikes, owner Roland Haccart can suddenly find himself down a staff member or two but that’s all part of the plan.

‘‘It’s good to give something back to the community,’’ Mr Haccart said.

‘‘Roland has been very supportive,” said Shepparton Search and Rescue president Michael D’Elia.

‘‘Predominantly it’s government departments and the much larger businesses that have these policies, but every so often it’s the small businesses.’’

Business hours can prove problematic for volunteer emergency services with so many of their staff caught up doing their day jobs.

‘‘People have jobs and businesses have to keep running and we get that. Those businesses who have the flexibility to let their staff go are vitally important. It means we can operate,’’ Mr D’Elia said.

‘‘Without that business support it would be so much harder and in some cases impossible,” he said.

James Boler decided to join the SES after hearing from a colleague at Roly’s how rewarding it was to volunteer.

‘‘I’m from the UK and we don’t have this sort of thing over there. All the emergency services are professional,’’ he said.

‘‘But once I heard about it, I decided to give it go.’’

That was three years ago and Mr Boler estimates he has attended close to a hundred incidents since.

May 21 to May 27 is National Volunteer Week with thousands of events being held across the country to say thank-you to the six million Australians who volunteer.

Sporing the tag line, ‘‘Give a little, change a lot,’’ this year’s theme seeks to acknowledge the impact volunteers make on their communities and on society.

Greater Shepparton City Council will hold the annual Volunteer Recognition Awards tonight at Eastbank at 5.30pm.

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