Supporting our volunteers: Wilson Group

Supporting our volunteers: Wilson Group

24/05/2023, 3:00 PM

When Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) volunteer Mike went on his third deployment to Echuca, during the flood event last year, he used his annual leave to take the time required off work.

VICSES Echuca Unit was one of the busiest in the state late last year, providing emergency assistance throughout the protracted flood event. Volunteers and the community in the town laid 195,000 sandbags in a mammoth effort to save as many homes as they could as well as performing a number of other emergency response tasks.

The flood event Mike deployed to was historic, with severe weather and flooding at Echuca during October topping out at 94.8m above sea level on 22 October; a couple of inches higher than in 1993.

Mike’s employer, Wilson Security - part of the Wilson Group, employing around 10,000 staff across the country - posted a photo of Mike on deployment, which prompted a conversation inside the company.  How could the company support Mike’s work, as part of that vital volunteer workforce?

In the six months since the flood emergency, that conversation brought about a change in policy at Wilson Group. Employees like Mike, are now free to take up to two weeks of paid leave to support them in their duties as a volunteer emergency responder, during operational events.

The new company policy was highlighted last week at a morning tea for Wear Orange Wednesday (WOW Day) a day of thanks to our SES volunteers across the country - which was attended by VICSES CEO Stephen Griffin. Staff were treated to orange cakes, sausage rolls, and a demonstration of casualty handling techniques by some of the VICSES Gisborne Unit members.

VICSES Gisborne Unit volunteers demonstrate casualty handling techniques at Wilson Group offices during a WOW Day tea on Wednesday 17th May 2023 (photo credit: VICSES)

Following the announcement of the new policy, and the casualty handling demonstration, Mike was approached by members of his own workplace, who were considering - for the first time - a role volunteering in emergencies.

VICSES Gisborne Unit volunteers attend Wilson Group offices for a WOW Day tea on Wednesday 17th May 2023 (photo credit: VICSES)

VICSES thanks Wilson Group and all employers who provide leave for our volunteers and enable them to play such a vital part in managing emergencies in their communities and throughout the state. Our volunteer emergency responders could not do what they do without the support of their family and employers. Leave entitlements are of significant benefit, and allow more working people to consider taking on a role with VICSES, as well as other volunteer emergency management agencies.

Quote attributable to VICSES Gisborne Unit, Controller, Michael Bagnall:

“My job is quite separate from my volunteer emergency responder role, but my employer saw the community benefit of what I did, and felt they had an obligation to support that financially.”

Quote attributable to VICSES CEO, Stephen Griffin:

“We want to recognise Wilson Group for what is a significant financial commitment and statement of support to their employees. Whether staff are currently serving as volunteer emergency responders, or wish to consider undertaking such a role, a paid leave entitlement is of enormous benefit to them and to society as a whole.”