22 May 2024

Wear Orange Wednesday highlights the importance of SES volunteers

| Jarryd Rowley
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Community groups are honouring volunteers in the SES this week by wearing orange to work.

Community groups are honouring volunteers in the SES this week by wearing orange to work. Photo: Supplied.

In times of natural disasters, heavy storms or damaging weather you may have seen people in orange hi-vis vests, doing their part to rescue or support members of the community.

Thankfully for NSW, these people are members of the State Emergency Service, a volunteer-based organisation dedicated to assisting the community during times of trouble.

This Wednesday, people across NSW are doing their bit to show their appreciation for SES volunteers by wearing orange for Wear Orange Wednesday.

“SES members are out 24/7, 365 days a year. We have over 1400 requests for assistance from the community [each year] and this Wednesday is a little bit of a thank you for our volunteers,” Southern Zone Commander at NSW State Emergency Service Benjamin Pickup said.

“We’ve got 7800 members across Riverina. I’ve been with the SES for 17 years, most of those as a volunteer. It’s just an awesome way to give back to the community, learn new skills and make friends for life.”

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One of the many volunteers from the Riverina being recognised this week is Griffith’s first female Unit Commander, Susie Skof.

Susie began volunteering for the SES two years ago, following the 2020 bushfires and after COVID restrictions were lifted. In her day job, Susie works for the Department of Community Justice and Children Protection and one of her great passions is being a female leader.

“I’m a people person; I’m good with managing people and I think that brings a different dynamic to the unit,” Ms Skof said.

“We have some young female members coming up and I think it’s really lovely to show them that women can flourish in male-dominated industries like the emergency services.

Ms Skof joined the SES two years ago and has already made a lasting impression in the Griffith community.

Ms Skof joined the SES two years ago and has already made a lasting impression in the Griffith community. Photo: Supplied.

Ms Skof said the biggest motivation for her to volunteer with the SES was that she was able to provide support to those who might be at their lowest points.

“Quite often you’re turning up to people who are having their worst day ever,” she said.

“Being able to help them and in some cases rescue them, it’s really important to me.

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“Even things like turning up to something like an old lady’s house who has a leaking roof or a tree falling onto their house – people are always so grateful and so appreciative. That’s the thing that really keeps me motivated.

“We have busy lives and have families ourselves and when we have to deploy away, whether it’s training or on weekends, knowing that you’re having a direct impact on somebody’s life is a really powerful motivator.”

Ms Skof said that knowing people would be wearing orange and recognising volunteers like herself was heartwarming.

“One of the most powerful things I’ve seen recently was when I marched in the Anzac Day March,” she said.

“I had people I knew clap as I was walking through and grabbing my hand to say thank you for my service.

“I can’t explain the feeling that it gives you in that moment; it is such an overwhelming sense of gratitude.”

Be sure to show your sign of support to SES volunteers by wearing some orange this Wear Orange Wednesday.

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