State Emergency Service Unit, Wangaratta

MR McCURDY (Ovens Valley) — I raise a matter for the Minister for Emergency Services. The action I seek is that the minister provide funding for a new building for the Wangaratta State Emergency Service (SES). The Wangaratta SES unit headquarters are currently located in Millard Street, Wangaratta, and over the past few decades the responsibilities, equipment and membership of the unit have expanded enormously. The site has become compromised for several reasons. This site is now restricted for room for SES vehicles, equipment and personnel and has inadequate IT resources, a single toilet, very limited parking and single vehicle-width access onto a very, very busy road on a blind corner. All those factors combined really make it a tough job, and it is a very difficult job for this unit to operate.

Frequent flooding events in the region over the past few years are particularly common, and the incident control centres have been established to manage these events. When there is an overflow of operational command into the current unit headquarters it causes a lot of additional stress. When providing road crash rescue on the Hume Highway, the Northeast Health hospital is the only main hospital between Melbourne and the border, so the SES at Wangaratta are regularly called out to service accidents on the Hume Highway. A significant increase in membership and fleet over the next 10 years will necessitate a relocation.

Over the past few years the Wangaratta SES unit has had extensive discussions with the Rural City of Wangaratta regarding the options that are available for their relocation. The Rural City of Wangaratta has reserved 4500 square metres on a site on Handley Street. That land will coexist with the already established fire station next door and the police complex across the road. In many respects all the ducks are lined up, and we now just need the funding, which is in the vicinity of around about $1.4 million to $1.5 million for a building that will service the needs of the Wangaratta SES.

I certainly want to pay tribute to the work that they do. Catherine Russell is the unit controller, and Carina Heppell along with Michael Quinane and Paul Zuch are instrumental in making sure that the SES in Wangaratta continue to be on call at all hours of the day, 24/7, to support our community. It is time that we reciprocated by providing decent facilities for the Wangaratta SES.

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