Hobsons Bay turns 40

Hobsons Bay turns 40

23/10/2023, 12:00 PM

An anniversary celebration was held on Saturday evening for the Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) Hobsons Bay Unit, to celebrate 40 years of continuous operation.

To mark the occasion, the unit held a dinner and awards ceremony with a number of unit members receiving citations for their service.

Among the invited guests were Deputy Chief Officer for Western Region, Simon White, past and present members of the unit, as well as representatives from VICSES Wyndham, Melton, Footscray, and Fawkner Units.

Also in attendance were Bendigo Bank staff, who have generously supported the unit through a grants scheme and regular donations amounting to $10,594 over the past year.

Among the members honoured were Long Service Award recipients Kane Ivory and Luke Monahan for 10 years of service; David Brae for 15 years of service; Alfred Pelns and Peter Tester for 35 years of service; and Leigh Hardinge and Craig McCallum for 40 years of service, as founding members.

David Brae also received a National Medal, and Unit Life Membership Awards were given to Merridee Hardinge; Leigh Hardinge; Alfred Pelns; Craig MacCallum, and Peter Tester.

Over the last five years, VICSES Hobsons Bay Unit members have responded to 1,295 Requests for Assistance from the local community, and 211 thoughout Victoria and beyond, when on deployment to other parts of the country.

Originally called VICSES Altona Unit, it was founded in 1983; one year after a severe weather event caused extensive building damage in the area. This prompted the community to set up the unit, which became VICSES Hobsons Bay Unit in 2013.

Over its 40-year history, VICSES Hobsons Bay Unit volunteers have been deployed locally and further afield to significant storm, flood, and rescue incidents that many in the community will recall. These include:

  • the Maribyrnong river floods of 1987 and 1993;
  • the Warburton fires of 1991;
  • Altona North and Footscray floods of 1992;
  • the Northern Victorian River Floods of 1993,
  • the Werribee train accident of 1995,
  • deployment to Sydney in 1999 following a devastating hailstorm;
  • the Altona, Laverton, Newport flooding of 2001;
  • the 2002 windstorms affecting metropolitan Melbourne, and
  • the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 when the unit provided logistical support to fire agencies.

More recent events saw the unit supplying incident management team personnel to support the east of the state, including Mallacoota, during the 2019/20 bushfires. Whilst in July 2021, VICSES Hobsons Bay Unit volunteers deployed to support Emerald and Lilydale Units to clear storm damage throughout the Dandenong Ranges, and also deployed to Gippsland to assist with flood response.

Our VICSES Hobsons Bay volunteers manage a unique response area which features historic urban, industrial, and maritime spaces in a rugged, coastal setting. Natural floodplains to the south are complemented by on-stream dams which - when full - produce localised flooding in our drainage systems and along overland flow paths.

While VICSES Hobsons Bay Unit volunteers respond to emergencies all year, the geography and built environment of Hobsons Bay means that they must especially be vigilant during the summer months, when sudden and severe flooding events can occur with little notice.

VICSES in incredibly proud of its diverse and dedicated volunteer workforce at Hobsons Bay, who for 40 years have given their time to the community and protected life and property, both within the Hobsons Bay municipality and beyond.

Congratulations to our wonderful VICSES Hobsons Bay Unit members for all of their accomplishments.

If you would like to be part of the VICSES story in your community, join us.