Castlemaine students want more funding for emergency service volunteers

Photo - Richmeister
Photo – Richmeister / Creative Commons

A group of students from Castlemaine Secondary College have recognised the need for more funding for emergency services volunteers, and are taking action to make a change.

The team of six have created a Bill which they will debate the Bill over three days in Victorian Parliamentary Chambers.

“At present, emergency service volunteers in regional Victoria are receiving drastically inadequate financial support,” the Bill reads. “Valuable volunteer time and energy is wasted having to fundraise enough money to supply the necessary equipment and resources to perform their job effectively and safely, which is a gross exploitation of their generosity.”

According to the Castlemaine Country Fire Authority (CFA), it currently costs volunteers an average of $1030 to equip themselves with the necessities to be a member of the team.

The Castlemaine Youth Parliament team considers emergency services vital, as they have directly impacted each of the members from the rural area.

Currently there are more than 60,000 emergency service volunteers in Victoria in need of funding from the Victorian Government for services including the Coastguard, Lifesaving Victoria, State Emergency Service and CFA.

“If our emergency services didn’t exist, none of us would have houses. In the past few years there have been bushfires near each team members house, so services like the CFA play a big role in our lives,” team member, Nick West said.

If the Bill succeeds, emergency services utilising volunteerism shall receive increased financial support, new volunteers will be reimbursed for costs involved with volunteering and a Department of Volunteer Funding established to monitor the use of funding.

The increase will permit adequate funding to volunteers who currently rely on their own fundraising efforts.

The team believes it’s currently undesirable to become an emergency services volunteer as the costs may deter people from offering their assistance.

The team trusts the Bill will help boost the number of greatly needed volunteers, helping increase the safety and protection of the Victorian community.

“It will help Victorians to feel more certain that we have people there to help out and be sure there is someone there in times of need,” said West.

If the Bill is successful it will be passed on to the relevant Victorian Cabinet Ministers for consideration.

The Castlemaine Secondray College Team consists of; Nicholas West, Matilda Bell-Wilcock, Alexandra Squires, Maddie Williams, Ashley Penrose and Patrick Petterson.

by Hannah Andrews