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New era for state emergency and marine rescue services starts today: Ryan, Boyd

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The Hon. Mark Ryan, Minister for Police and Community Safety (Qld), The Hon. Nikki Boyd, Minister for Fire and Disaster Recovery and Minister for Corrective Services (Qld), Joint Media Release, 3 June 2024

A new era in Queensland’s disaster and emergency management begins today as some of the most significant changes to how the state responds to natural disasters and emergencies takes effect.

The State Emergency Service (SES) is now formally established with its own legislation, the State Emergency Service Act 2024, its own operating budget, staff and volunteers, along with its first dedicated Chief Officer, Mark Armstrong.

And for the first time, Marine Rescue Queensland (MRQ) is established as the state’s first integrated marine rescue service, with Tony Wulff as Chief Officer, under new legislation, Marine Rescue Queensland Act 2024.

The services will be hosted by the Queensland Police Service (QPS).

This change marks the transition of SES from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) to QPS under the Disaster and Emergency Management portfolio.

It builds on the existing relationships across the two services and enhance the state’s coordinated response during times of natural disasters and emergencies.

In celebration of SES volunteers and staff, and marking the commencement of this new era, all current volunteers will receive an official citation to recognise their service.

Also released today was the latest SES recruitment video as a celebration of the great work of SES volunteers and a call out for people who want to help their community and join the orange army.

To commemorate the commencement of MRQ, the MRQ logo and uniform was also unveiled.

Both the logo and uniform represent and honour the marine rescue volunteers who continue to keep Queenslanders safe while enjoying the oceans and waterways.

The transition of bringing marine volunteer units to MRQ will now begin in a phased approach from July and continue onboarding units for the next 12 to 18 months.

From today, the QPS will also become QPS the agency responsible for coordination of our disaster and emergency services response in Queensland.

These are the largest and most significant changes Queensland has seen when it comes to disaster and emergency management response.

This legislation provides record support for the state’s local community disaster and emergency response volunteers, offering more resources, vehicles, critical safety equipment and protections for SES and marine rescue service volunteers.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Police and Community Safety Mark Ryan:

“The reforms recognise SES as a dedicated service, hosted by the QPS, with a dedicated budget, dedicated chief officer and clear identity – to celebrate what the SES does best; to serve Queenslanders and keep the community safe.

“For generations volunteers from SES and marine rescue volunteer associations, the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association (AVCGA) and Volunteer Marine Rescue Queensland (VMRQ), have supported their local communities, responding to disasters, and providing emergency lifesaving services to help people who need help.

“These reforms will uplift the capabilities of each of these services for our staff, our volunteers and the community well into the future.

“I want to thank the thousands of volunteers who continue to work together to help those in need, time and time again.

“I look forward to working with our staff and volunteers across SES and marine rescue to build a stronger, more sustainable SES and MRQ.

“For years our QFES colleagues have led and supported SES and I’d like to thank them for their efforts and support through this transition.

“I also recognise the outstanding contributions of the AVCGA and VMRQ volunteers who have watched over our waterways for decades. We will continue to work with you through the transition of units in the coming months and thank you for your ongoing cooperation.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Fire and Disaster Recovery and Minister for Corrective Services Nikki Boyd:

“The SES has been a crucial part of disaster preparation, response, and recovery in Queensland for nearly 50 years,” Ms Boyd said.

“It’s all about Queenslanders helping Queenslanders, and with more than 5000 frontline volunteers representing nearly 300 SES groups across the state, the Miles Government will continue to support our Orange Army and the amazing service these volunteers provide.

“From today, the disaster and emergency response capability of SES will be supported by the Queensland Police Service.

Queenslanders can be reassured that they will continue to receive the same exceptional service from SES and all our disaster and emergency services as we continue to implement wide ranging reforms.

“These reforms deliver more funding, more equipment and put resources where they are needed most.”

Quotes attributable to Queensland Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski:

The move of SES to QPS and establishing MRQ creates a new chapter for our disaster and emergency response services in Queensland.

“These wide-ranging reforms have seen QPS further enhance its state disaster coordination role, to now include the guidance and support for these valuable volunteer emergency services.

“Our relationships and connection with SES and marine rescue volunteer services, has and will always be incredibly strong.

“We are excited to welcome these dedicated staff and volunteers into our organisation and will continue to support their outstanding contributions to protect Queenslanders.

Quotes attributable to Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Steve Smith

“We have witnessed the mammoth efforts of our dedicated SES volunteers over the years – through devastating cyclones, storms and floods,” Mr Smith said.

“The SES is all about Queenslanders helping one another through disasters and this has been the case since the inception of the SES in 1975.

“Over the last 49 years SES has grown from strength to strength; enhancing its capability and service to Queenslanders.

“We have been proud to have had SES in the QFES family over a long history of this organisation and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the SES members and Chief Officer Mark Armstrong to ensure a seamless transition and continued great service to Queenslanders in times of need.

“Thank you to each and every SES volunteer and staff member that has served while with QFES. Your service is recognised and appreciated.”

Quotes attributed to SES Chief Officer Mark Armstrong:

“SES has a long and proud history of commitment and service to community safety, especially during times of disasters.

“I am incredibly humbled to lead the State Emergency Service.

“We will continue building a service that empowers volunteers to drive real change and look forward to a bright future under the guidance of the QPS.

“I look forward to working with you all.”

Quotes attributed to Marine Recue Queensland Chief Officer Tony Wulff:

Marine Rescue Queensland is built on the strong legacy of VMRQ and the AVCGA and I am honoured to be MRQ’s first Chief Officer.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of marine rescue in Queensland and they will be the backbone of Marine Rescue Queensland too.

“I am committed to working with all marine rescue volunteers to build a service which supports, celebrates and champions the lifesaving work they do every day.

“I encourage all Queenslanders to look out for the new blue and yellow MRQ uniform as they start to hit waterways in the coming months.”

Quotes attributable Eddie Cowie ESM, President SES Volunteer Association:

“These reforms are game changing for the SES and most importantly for the Volunteers, who work so hard to keep Queensland safe.

“The SESVA thanks the Government for the huge investment made in the SES in the last couple of years and for giving every volunteer their identity back through these reforms.

“There is still more work to be done and we look forward to working with the Government and the QPS to ensure the SES continues to grow stronger into the future.”

Quotes attributable to Dr Graham Kingston, President Volunteer Marine Rescue Association Queensland (VMRAQ):

“VMRAQ has been on this journey for many years, and today is a huge milestone in these reforms.

“They will result in people being safer on our waterways, more resources and more consistency in service delivery across the state.

“There is still more work to be done on the journey, but we look forward to seeing the first units transition to MRQ from next month, and seeing this new organisation grow over the next 12-18 months through transition, and into the future.”

Quotes attributable Allan Tennant Deputy National Commodore Australian Volunteer Coastguard Association (AVCGA):

“Today may mark a formality in the reform process but it represents years of work and countless conversations.

“It has been fantastic to see the benefits of these reforms already having an effect, with new vessels being rolled out across the state.

“AVCGA looks forward to continuing to engage with Government as the transition rolls out to ensure the best outcomes are achieved for the Community.”

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