Thanking SES volunteers this WOW Day

Thanking SES volunteers this WOW Day

15/05/2023, 3:00 PM

Wednesday 17 May is Wear Orange Wednesday (WOW), a national day of thanks dedicated to State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers across the country.

Held annually during National Volunteer Week, WOW Day encourages the public to thank and acknowledge SES volunteers, for the invaluable contribution and commitment they make to local communities.

The past three years have been three of the busiest year’s in VICSES history following three consecutive La Nina’s brining a number of severe storms and major flooding.

October 2022 saw VICSES volunteers respond to 13,700 Requests for Assistance, in a single month as major flooding impacted the state. This was VICSES’ busiest calendar month on record.

During the 89 days of the Victorian Flood Campaign, SES volunteers responded to just on 20,000 Requests for Assistance. This included SES volunteers responding to over 1,500 flood rescues.

A major and prolonged emergency event, with some of the worst floods in Victoria’s history affecting northern parts of the state. As part of our statewide response, approximately 372 emergency warnings were issued.

Over the last 12 months, VICSES volunteers have responded to over 35,000 requests for assistance – generously donating their time in support of their communities.

Whilst SES volunteers are well known for their response during flood and storm emergencies, volunteers also respond to over 1600 ‘Assist Police’ jobs every year – that’s 4 out 5 jobs on average every day. This includes assistance at searches for missing people, searches for evidence at crime scenes as well as scene preservation and assistance with lighting towers and marquees.

In addition, VICSES volunteers respond to on average just over 1,300 road crash rescues each year and are highly trained to meet national standards and participate in regular capability assessments to ensure they continue to meet these standards.

For the VICSES Alexandra Unit, the October Floods saw the biggest response campaign for the unit’s volunteers, since the 2009 Victorian Bushfires, with 11 rescues (seven via boat), 37 tonnes of sandbags laid, and a further 15,000 sandbags distributed to residents.

With Lake Eildon as part of the unit’s response area, as well as downstream of the Goulburn River, the unit received over 140 requests for assistance.

VICSES volunteers undertaking a boat rescue demonstration, Monday 15 May, 2023 [photo credit: VICSES]

One significant rescue included a young Acheron family, including their 5-month-old baby Ollie and their beloved pet dog and cat, who were cut off by floodwaters.

VICSES Alexandra Unit volunteers, Peter Weeks, Shannon Mitrow, and Angela Warren-Smith together led the rescue, with the family remaining in contact and using WOW Day to say thank you for their crucial assistance.

(L-R) Brooke Sheridan; Ollie Sheridan; VICSES Chief Officer, Tim Wiebusch; VICSES Alexandra Unit volunteers, Peter Weeks and Shannon Mitrow [photo credit: VICSES]

To help celebrate WOW Day 2023 and to thank our volunteers for all of their hard work, Victorian landmarks will be ‘flooded’ in orange, including metro locations like the Melbourne Town Hall; AAMI Park; and the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre.

To see what landmarks are lighting up in your area, visit:

The public can share a message of thanks to SES volunteers this WOW Day by posting on Facebook or Twitter and use the hashtag #ThankYouSES.

If you want to be a part of the action, learn new skills and serve your community, visit

Quotes attributable VICSES CEO Stephen Griffin:

“I continue to admire the remarkable and relentless efforts of our VICSES volunteers and thank you for your time and dedication, many of you go over and beyond and it is truly inspiring.”

“In the face of adversity, our people are capable of extraordinary things. Whether it’s a one in one-hundred year flood event, or deployment to another part of the country to help local communities, VICSES volunteers are here for our communities.”

“Wear Orange Wednesday is an opportunity for the public to say thank you, to all the volunteers who sacrifice their time away from their family, friends and loved ones, to help the community rain, hail or shine.”