SES unit faces crisis

November 15, 2017

Cobram SES Unit Controller John Stava and volunteer Carrie Hawke want to build an SES headquarters in Cobram.

After decades of helping the community, Cobram’s State Emergency Service is facing its own crisis.

It is the only SES unit in Victoria that has its headquarters located interstate, making it difficult or impossible to respond to emergencies in time.

The nearest headquarters is more than 20km away in Tocumwal, which is why Cobram SES is petitioning the Victorian Government to build a headquarters in Cobram.

Cobram unit controller John Stava said Cobram residents were being put in harm’s way because of a lack of resources.

‘‘Every minute counts in urgent emergencies,’’ he said.

‘‘The bulk of our resources are 20km away, which means if we need important equipment someone has to travel at least 40km to get it.’’

There have been times when the SES needed to travel even further when it was forced to detour around the Goulburn Valley Hwy due to flooding or debris.

‘‘Having a headquarters in Cobram would improve our response time considerably and attract volunteers for the service,’’ Mr Stava said.

He is asking residents to sign the petition, which has been put up in 30 retail shops around Cobram and surrounding towns.

The petition was suggested by MP Tim McCurdy, who will table the petition in Parliament on behalf of the Cobram community.

He volunteered to put forward the petition himself after a state government official asked the SES unit not to run the petition.

‘‘They were told in no uncertain terms they weren’t to run a petition, and whether you want to call it a threat or not, it’s disappointing,’’ Mr McCurdy said.

‘‘We talk about people having their say and freedom of speech and then to suggest to the SES they can’t run the petition is shameful.

‘‘We need a headquarters here in Cobram because they do a great job.’’

Valid signatories must be residents of Victoria and should be residents of Moira Shire.

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