ESL – Supporting our Emergency Services Volunteers
- Provide a full rebate on emergency services levy for active volunteers.
- Support more agency administrative resources being located in local communities to take the load off our volunteers.
- Provide a stronger level of focus and support on the health and wellbeing of our volunteers.
- Match the Liberals pledge to reduce annual ESL bills by $90 million a year.
Our emergency services simply would not function without our volunteers.
There are around 15,000 South Australians who give up their own time and often at their own cost to help others in need.
From those involved in front-line firefighting, securing storm-damaged buildings, attending road accidents and rescue operations through to those providing the vital control centre support and logistics – SA-BEST says ‘thank you’.
Whilst volunteering has its own rewards, we need to more strongly recognise and support the efforts of our emergency services volunteers.
For example, we have already seen a large number of our farmers and rural landholders deserting the Country Fire Service over recent years in protest against massive jumps in the emergency services levy – in some cases increases of more than 1,000 per cent.
SA-BEST does not believe it is fair that our volunteers should be expected to pay the emergency services levy where, in many cases, they then risk their own lives.
We also need to recognise that many of our emergency services volunteers are exposed to traumatic stress and critical incidents, placing them at increased risk for adverse mental health outcomes, including increased rates of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, burnout, stress-related anxiety, and suicide.
Whilst there are good inroads being made into supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our volunteers, SA-BEST believes we must do more.
With any emergency situation and ongoing maintenance of volunteer operations, there will always be necessary administrative requirements.
But we need to make sure we are not loading up our volunteers with additional administrative burden. SA-BEST supports additional agency staffing to provide the administrative resources for our volunteers, so they can get on with the job they are trained for.