Funding for first responders

12 February 2021

We’re big on volunteering at Hydro Tasmania, whether it’s our own employee volunteering program, support for Volunteers Tasmania, or our annual Community Grant Program. It is no exaggeration to say that volunteering can save lives and this is literally the case for Tasmania’s State Emergency Service (SES).


To launch our 2021 community grants, CEO Evangelista Albertini visited the SES Derwent Valley unit, who were one of 40 organisations to share a record $140,000 in grants during the difficulties of 2020. The occasion gave the volunteers a chance to show off the tools of their trade.



Their history can be traced back to homeland defence during World War 2, but the SES we recognise today was created in 1976. This not-for-profit professional organisation serves the community 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, during car accidents, fires, floods, storms, search and rescue, and other incidents. They work closely with Tasmania Police, fire and ambulance, but in rural areas the SES are often first on the scene.


Based in New Norfolk, the Derwent Valley unit works across much of Southern Tasmania, including many of the remote areas travelled by Hydro Tasmania employees. In fact, volunteer David Griffin is a former Hydro Tasmania employee himself, having started as an electrical apprentice in 1967. His partner Jane was born at Lake St Clair where her father helped run the old hydro pumphouse and she too has volunteered with the SES.


Although this essential service is funded by government, donations enable the SES to go the extra mile for their volunteers and the community, according to SES Southern Regional Manager Mark Nelson.


“This Hydro Tasmania grant means we can look after our volunteers with a few simple things like better lighting, motorised roller doors, new torches, cookers for hot food and drinks, a projector and even a new coat of paint for the unit headquarters,” Mr Nelson said.


“Things like this enhance the recruitment and retention of our volunteers because it makes them feel valued, and it’s the community that ultimately benefits.”



Derwent Valley SES Unit Manager Jason Lawrence agrees. “If you’ve got a nice building and nice trucks, then people will want to join up. If you can’t give the members good facilities, they’re not going to stay,” he said.


After more than 30 years with the Derwent Valley unit, Jason remains passionate about his volunteering and is always looking for new recruits.


“I do it for the camaraderie and for that thing of helping the community,” he said. “If you just join an SES unit, it’s surprising what you’ll learn. You’ll enjoy the camaraderie and you can take the training back to your own job, because a lot of it is competency based.”


If you know of a not-for-profit group doing great things in the community who could use a little help, applications are open for our 2021 Community Grant Program, with grants of either $5,000 or $10,000 available. Get all the details and apply online here.

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