Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) has been involved in most major emergency responses in Victoria since it began as the Victoria Civil Defence Organisation in 1950. It is still the lead agency for flood, storm, tsunami and earthquake responses today.
The Victoria Civil Defence Organisation was originally established in 1950 to act as a volunteer based civil defence agency, which could quickly be activated in the event of war.
To support the development of the organisation, the Commonwealth government set up the Civil Defence School at Mt Macedon in 1956. By 1961, there was a Civil Defence Office in the Victorian Premier’s Department and efforts were being made to form a civil defence unit in each municipality around the state.
In 1962, disastrous fires caused substantial damage in the Dandenongs and the Premier directed that a state plan be created to manage peacetime disasters. The plan was finalised in 1968.
By 1972, around 100 voluntary Civil Defence Units had been established in municipalities across Victoria. That same year, Parliament passed the State Emergency Services and Civil Defence Act which formally legislated the role of the Victoria Civil Defence Organisation.
In 1973, the first Civil Defence Organisation headquarters was established at 31 Queens Road Melbourne and in 1975 the Victoria Civil Defence Organisation was renamed the Victoria State Emergency Service to conform with other states.
In 1979, the Ministry for Police and Emergency Services was created. Its branches included Victoria Police, the Metropolitan Fire Bridge, Country Fire Authority and Victoria State Emergency Service.
In 1981, the Victoria State Emergency Service Act was passed. This act formally recognised VICSES as a general emergency management agency.
On 1 November 2005, Victoria VICSES was established as an independent Statutory Authority. As a Statutory Authority, VICSES is governed by a Board, which is accountable to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services.