A record 91 Western Australian businesses were recognised by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) on Friday 3 November for their vital role in supporting emergency services volunteers.
The Volunteer Employer Recognition Awards (VERA) are awarded to organisations and self-employed volunteers who have gone above and beyond to provide flexible work arrangements for volunteers, donate equipment, money or provide support in other ways.
This year has seen a 35 per cent increase in the number of organisations acknowledged and nearly half the recipients were recognised in the highest Gold category.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said it was pleasing to see more businesses providing greater support for their employees and community than ever before.
“Many of these incidents occur without warning and when people’s lives are at risk, every second counts. Without the support and flexibility of their employers volunteers would not be able to contribute as often,” Commissioner Klemm said.
“A great example of this is Gantheaume Bay Electrical.”
“They were elevated from the Silver to Gold category this year due to their increased support, enabling their employee to attend training sessions and incidents with Kalbarri Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service (VFRS) during work hours.”
Commissioner Klemm said he was also proud to see 18 self-employed volunteers honoured at the ceremony.
“Running your own business takes a great deal of time and energy, so it’s a significant sacrifice to incur the financial loss of closing your business to attend an incident.”
State Emergency Service (SES) volunteer Leif Thomas from White Sands Bathroom Renovations in Margaret River received a Gold Award for his contribution to the community.
During large scale incidents such as land searches for missing people Leif is sometimes in the field for several days, requiring him to close his business.
“Of course there’s an impact on the business but at the end of the day it’s a sacrifice I’m happy to make,” he said.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than when the phone rings and my daughter looks at me and says: someone needs your help, dad.”
The 2017 ceremony acknowledged 73 employers and 18 self-employed volunteers with a total of 91 medals across the three categories:
You can see the full list of 2017 VERA recipients here.
WA has more than 27,000 volunteers across the Bush Fire Service, State Emergency Service, Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services, Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service and Volunteer Marine Rescue Services.