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Sudanese students meet SES

Published 10/07/2013

Victoria State Emergency Service (SES) has delivered its key safety messaging to new and energetic young Australians.

The vital new learning took place at the Edmund Rice Community and Refugee Services Homework Club in St Albans, where approximately 40 students aged between eight and twelve took part in an interactive FloodSafe and StormSafe session.

Most of the students have come to Australia from the small African nation of South Sudan and have been here for about five years. SES' Adam Kennedy with Dennis and his friends.

In many African countries a service such as SES does not exist. This was evident when many students could easily identify police, ambulance and fire services, but had never before heard of SES. Relatively poor English skills and a lack of knowledge about SES can make communities such as the South Sudanese in St Albans extremely vulnerable in times of flood and severe storm.

In many such communities, young people have the most highly developed English language skills within their family, and SES recognises that their inquisitive nature and intelligent young minds provide a vital avenue for passing key safety messaging on to their parents and wider communities.

During the session, students learnt the importance of acting early then staying inside in times of severe storm events and the dangers of playing, swimming, walking and driving in floodwater. The students were particularly interested in ‘Lil Larrikins’, a series of short informational videos addressing flood and storm safety. These videos can be found on the SES website.

Students shared their own knowledge on how to access information in times of emergency including listening to the radio and watching news reports on television, and were also introduced to the SES website and phone number.

Interesting discussion about emergency events was promoted through practical questions from the students such as “where does floodwater go?” and “why shouldn’t I stand under a tree in a storm?” Dennis, pictured with his friends, simply asked “how can I protect my family?”

­Community education sessions such as these are vital in increasing the resilience of communities during emergencies, and are just one of the many ways SES is helping to improve safety for all Victorians.