Volunteers in Emergency Management
Australia has a long and proud tradition of volunteerism and today there are several million Australians who volunteer their services to assist their communities.
One of the most important elements of the volunteer movement is the emergency management and response sector which has more than 500 000 volunteers – volunteers who are the backbone of the emergency management structures throughout Australia.
They provide frontline response capabilities against our major natural hazards of floods, storms, cyclones and bushfires, and in doing so regularly and willingly place themselves at considerable risk. They also provide more road accident and vertical rescue services than the paid emergency services and carry out the bulk of the marine rescue and communications systems nationwide.
Volunteers patrol our beaches on holidays and over weekends and provide first aid at sporting fixtures and major entertainment venues. They are active in all types of disasters assisting the emergency services and victims alike, and are an integral part of the recovery systems in all States and Territories, as well as providing day to day support in lesser incidents.
Volunteers are particularly active at local level with schools and community groups, and their extensive involvement in mitigation preparedness programs has enhanced their effectiveness and the overall value to the Australian Community.
Australian Emergency Management Volunteer Forum
The Australian Emergency Management Volunteer Forum was formed as a result of a recommendation from the National Volunteer Summit, held in Canberra in October 2001, as part of the International Year of Volunteers.
The purpose of the Forum is to provide:
A national forum representative of the volunteer emergency management sector, to facilitate better communication between the organizations within it, and to provide advocacy for the sector.
The objectives of the Forum are:
• To foster communication between one another and with Government.
• To share information.
• To provide advocacy, particularly on behalf of the non-government organisations.
• To focus on the issues of Recognition, Training, Legal Protection and Funding.
Criteria for Membership of the AEMVF
The original membership of the AEMVF was based on the composition of the Steering Committee for the first Volunteer Summit held in 2001.
Subsequent membership is open to individual organisations, groups of organisations and peak bodies of organisations which are integral to the emergency, or rescue, management arrangements of the States and Territories in the areas of Prevention, Preparedness, Response or Recovery.
Applications for membership will be determined by the current members of the AEMVF broadly based on the criteria contained herein, and in accordance with their ability to contribute to the goals and objectives of the Forum.
The following principles will apply:
• They must be generally national in nature;
• They must be recognised by the States and Territories in which they operate;
• They must be substantially volunteer in nature, or represent a significant number of volunteers;
• They must be involved in dealing with emergencies;
• They must provide a different perspective from those organisations already represented.
Organizations seeking to join the AEMVF should contact the Secretariat of the Forum, which is provided by the Attorney General’s Department.
Updated following AEMVF meeting 25 February 2010