New agreement signed between VICSES and Shepparton Search and Rescue

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Local emergency service operations are set to be stronger than ever with the signing of a new memorandum of understanding between the Victoria State Emergency Service and Shepparton Search and Rescue on Monday night.

Members of the SS&RS were joined by members of the VICSES Tatura unit and VICSES chief officer operations Tim Wiebusch to sign the renegotiated MOU.

Focused on strengthening the collaboration of the two organisations, the new agreement will replace the previous commitment made five years ago, highlighting day-to-day planning and emergency responses, particularly in large-scale incidents across the region.

Meeting at the SS&RS facility in Dudley St, Shepparton, SS&RS president Michael D’Elia said this MOU built on the work started with the original MOU, strengthening both the relationship and also the capacity of his team.

Mr D’Elia said this MOU would provide more training opportunities and peer support through SES-trained mental health volunteers.

‘‘For us, being a small organisation, having access to that type of stuff is really critical,’’ he said.

Mr D’Elia said the organisations reach had also been extended to cover more of the ‘‘Tatura geographic boundary’’.

‘‘From the Goulburn River all the way to Nalinga, from almost Wunghnu, down to the Murchison turn-off on the GV Highway, out to Dookie and half-way out to Euroa so it’s a really large area that used to only be serviced by the Tatura SES unit,’’ he said.

‘‘Our community now has two units that are able to cover those square kilometres.

‘‘It gives us a great capacity to be able to provide a better service and that’s what we’ve talked about for a long time and that’s our drive.’’

Mr D’Elia said this MOU would also help his team better educate the community on a number of topics from road safety to storm protection.

‘‘We don’t want to see people in trouble, so we need to work together.’’

Mr D’Elia said the relationship had gone from strength to strength during the past seven years.

He hoped that by formalising the positive work already under way, a more professional emergency service operation would be created for the betterment of the local region.

‘‘It won’t matter if people see orange overalls or whether they see yellow overalls, they are going to get the same level of service and we’ll be able to deliver that in a reasonably time-efficient manner,’’ he said.

Mr Wiebusch said the partnership was of great importance to his organisation.

‘‘For a long period SES has recognised the important work that Shepparton Search and Rescue play in their community,’’ he said.

‘‘This MOU is about taking the partnership between Victoria State Emergency and Shepparton Search and Rescue to another level and it allows us to continue to provide a crucial service to the Shepparton community.’’

Mr Wiebusch said his organisation had been really pleased with the work undertaken by the organisations in recent times and was glad to formalise this partnership.

‘‘This partnership is about training together, exercising together and making sure when they come across critical incidents they know how to work together.’’