What defines an emergency volunteer?

It sounds like a simple question but it’s not an easy one to answer.

Volunteering Queensland and the RFBAQ are taking on the challenge to clearly describe the important work 110,000 unpaid emergency volunteers from organisations such as Rural Fire Brigades, Coast Guards, SES, Volunteer Marine Rescue, Ambulance First Responders and other unsung heroes do across Queensland.

The definition, a first for our state, has the potential to help the Queensland Government and local government authorities determine how they allocate resources to effectively support the state’s emergency volunteers.

As a part of this work, Volunteering Queensland and the RFBAQ will consult with other groups and investigate widely before sharing their findings and insights.

“There are currently close to six million volunteers across Australia, of which 980,000 are Queenslanders,” Volunteering Queensland CEO Mara Basanovic said.

“Within volunteering there are some sub-groups such as emergency volunteers that are not clearly defined.

“Emergency volunteers are a critical group providing a specific level of service and support to their communities and to our state, not only in times of crisis, but every day.

“Emergency volunteers and spontaneous volunteers who step forward to help at times of emergency, whether individually or as members of existing community groups, are cohorts that have not been clearly defined, may currently not be as well supported as they could be, and most importantly are invaluable resources that need to be well-managed and sustained so that they can do their vital work.”

Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland General Manager Justin Choveaux said “it was an honour to help clarify the definition, which was first raised as an issue in the RFBAQ’s push to roll out an Emergency Volunteer Respect Act in Queensland.”

“This will help establish the groups of emergency volunteers that are represented and included under the proposed Emergency Volunteer Respect Act when it is drafted,” he said.


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