Regional units to take lion’s share of grants worth $2.35m

Regional units to take lion’s share of grants worth $2.35m

19/11/2021, 1:45 PM

24 Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) Units across regional Victoria will receive the lion’s share of Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program (VESEP) grants worth $1.38m.

Grants of up to $150,000 are available to volunteer emergency service groups under the annual program, with the program providing $2 for every $1 raised by the units. A total of $2.35m was allocated to VICSES this year to 34 units across the state, including metropolitan Melbourne and Central Region.

Since 2015, the State Government has invested more than $90 million in VESEP grants to volunteer groups around the state.

More than 300 VESEP awards worth over $14 million in total were granted across the emergency management sector, which also included Country Fire Authority, Life Saving Victoria and Marine Search and Rescue units across the state.

The boost will help units to buy operational equipment, vehicles and appliances, and make minor facility improvements needed to respond to emergencies, and to protect lives and property.

In the East Region, five units (Warragul, Maffra, Foster, San Remo, Bairnsdale) will receive a total of $404,035 to spend on vehicles and appliances.

In North East Region, seven units (Yarrawonga, Murchison, Falls Creek, Wodonga, Mansfield, Tallangatta, Euroa) will receive a total of $322,372 to spend mainly on vehicles and appliances, and some facility improvements.

In the North West Region, five units (Birchip, Rushworth, Echuca, Maryborough, Robinvale) received $313,808 to spend on vehicles and appliances and facility improvements.

In the South West Region, four units (South Barwon, Warrnambool, Mortlake, Portland) will receive $200,615 in total to spend on vehicles and appliances, operational equipment and facility improvements.

In the Mid West Region, three units (Ararat and Ballarat, Hepburn Shire) will receive $146,731 in total to spend mainly on vehicles and appliances at the two larger units of Ararat and Ballarat.

Two units (VICSES Knox Unit, VICSES Bairndale) were awarded the full grant of $150,000. VICSES Bairnsdale had received a $100,000 donation earlier in the year from the estate of a local man, whose wish was to support the emergency services in his area. The State Government was then able to match and double this amount, up to the limit of $150,000; an incredible boost for the unit and local area, during the busiest period in VICSES history.

View the full list of VESEP recipients on Emergency Management Victoria's website, here.

Download statement from Minister for Emergency Services, Jaclyn Symes here.

Quote attributable to VICSES Bairnsdale Unit Controller Anthony Wright:

“We had the ambition of buying a four-wheel drive truck as a support vehicle for our region. The fellow that donated it was a truck driver, whose dying wish was to make these donations to Metung CFA, Ambulance Victoria and ourselves.”

“If anything like that happens you think it’s a joke to start off with, but it’s amazing and we’re very happy. If the pager goes off, it’s always a nice surprise when you call and someone says they want to give you a hundred thousand bucks!”

“With this extra funding, we will still buy the truck, but now we can kit it out it for steep-angle rescue; storms and search operations.”

Quote attributable to VICSES Warrnambool Unit Controller, Stephen Bakker:

“We’re using the money for a lighting trailer as our existing kit has reached the end of its life. We’re putting the other one up for auction, so that will go off the price of the new one, which may free up some funds for other purchases of vital equipment.”

“We will use the lighting trailer to assist police with road accidents, or crime scenes. Assisting the CFA with lighting destructive fires, and any sort of rescue scenario where we need a large area lit at night.”

“It’ll also be backup power for the unit, as it has its own independent power supply and a bigger capacity generator. We’re a division command point at VICSES so we need the unit to stay viable during a large storm event.”

Quote attributable to VICSES Ararat, Deputy Controller, Jordan Bush:

“Our key source of donations over COVID has been through members of the community donating after we have removed a tree from their driveway or house. The community in Ararat has been extremely generous over this COVID time however the unit has obviously still seen quite a decrease in our normal donation and fundraising amount.”

“The unit has been fortunate enough to be able to raise enough money to contribute to this opportunity with the units dollar contribution amount being around $37,000. With the help of VESEP, VICSES Ararat unit will purchase a Toyota Hilux to replace one of our Ford Rangers that has reached its end of life. This vehicle will be used primarily to support to search and rescue operations; supporting other agencies such as Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria and to provide a rapid response to downed trees causing a traffic hazard.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes:

“It’s going to be another busy summer season for our emergency service volunteers. That’s why we’re helping to give them the equipment they need to continue doing what they do best – keeping Victorians safe.”

“These grants have been going strong since they were first set up twenty years ago – communities will continue to proudly contribute to local fundraising efforts, but we want to help reduce that task and demonstrate that we’ll always support our selfless volunteers.”