Tweed pilot program for SES students
A TWEED Heads initiative could eventually become an integral part of the State Emergency Service’s volunteer recruitment program.
The first 20 graduates of an introductory program, designed to give young students a taste of what the volunteer organisation does, were recognised at a ceremony at Banora Point last week.
The students, aged from 14 to 16, completed a 10-week program that provided them with hands-on experience in a variety of emergency services activities including roof repairs, sandbagging, land searches, flood boat activities and first aid.
“Everything we do we gave them a taste of,” SES Tweed Heads unit controller Kristine McDonald said.
Ms McDonald, who delivered the initial course concept, said it was the first of its type to be offered in NSW.
“I had an idea about a program and put it to my members,” she said.
“We then began to figure out how to make it work. We put it to state headquarters over 12 months ago but there was a bit of work involved getting permission to run it.”
Ms McDonald said the course had been a great success with more than 60 students from schools in the Tweed Heads unit area nominating to take part.
“We were initially going to take 12 students but the response was so overwhelming that we ended up accepting 20,” she said.
The success of the program has also highlighted its potential as a recruitment tool. The SES relies on volunteers and often struggles to attract sufficient numbers.
The Tweed Coast unit recently launched a recruitment campaign while the Tweed Heads unit is also seeking volunteers.
“We have about 45 members for a very large population and are just about to launch a recruitment program,” Ms McDonald said.
“Something like this could be a very effective way to attract new members.
“A lot of the students have asked the question about becoming a volunteer when they turn 16. And that’s not just necessarily with our unit but with the service in general so that’s very positive. We’d love to do it again.”
The graduation ceremony was staged at the Tweed Heads unit headquarters at Banora Point. Regional controller Andrew McPhee was on hand to help present the participants with certificates of achievement.