New South Wales State Emergency Service
The New South Wales State Emergency Service (NSW SES), an agency of the Government of New South Wales, is an emergency and rescue service dedicated to assisting the community in times of natural and man-made disasters. The NSW SES is made up almost entirely of volunteer members, numbering over 9,000 as of June 2018. Members are easily identified by their distinctive orange overalls.
1955 - State Emergency Service Founded
Following the devastating Hunter Valley floods of 1955, which no single agency was equipped or designated to manage, the NSW State Emergency Service was founded.
1989 - Renamed to NSW State Emergency Service
Following the enactment of State Emergency Service Act, 1989 (NSW), the New South Wales State Emergency Service was established.
The current Commissioner of the NSW SES is Carlene York who took up her appointment on 28 October 2019. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services (New South Wales), David Elliott, is responsible to the NSW parliament for the emergency services portfolio which includes NSW SES.
|Name||Title||Term Start||Term End||Postnominals||Comments||Notes|
|Major General Brian 'Hori' Howard||Director General||Late 1989||27 August 2001||AO, ESM, MC|||
|Brigadier Philip McNamara||Director General||27 August 2001||September 2008||CSC, ESM|||
|Murray Kear||Director General / Commissioner||September 2008||07 November 2013||AFSM||Officially resigned 12 June 2014|||
|Jim Smith||Acting Commissioner||07 November 2013||05 January 2015||AFSM||Fire and Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner|||
|Adam Dent||Commissioner||05 January 2015||30 January 2016|||
|Greg Newton||Acting Commissioner||30 January 2016||27 February 2017||NSW SES Deputy Commissioner|||
|Mark Smethurst||Commissioner||27 February 2017||08 March 2019||DSC, AM|||
|Kyle Stewart||Acting Commissioner||08 March 2019||30 October 2019||APM||NSW Police Force Assistant Commissioner|||
|Carlene York||Commissioner||30 October 2019||Incumbent||APM|||
The major responsibilities of the NSW SES are for flood (including Flood Rescue), tsunami and storm operations. The NSW SES also provides the majority of General Land Rescue effort in the rural parts of the state. This includes road crash rescue, vertical rescue, general rescue, bush search and rescue, evidence searches (both metropolitan and rural) and other forms of specialist rescue that may be required due to local threats. The Service's trained rescuers also support the full-time emergency services during major disasters.
The NSW SES also assist other emergency services when they are performing major operations. These services include the New South Wales Police Force, the NSW Rural Fire Service, the Fire and Rescue NSW and the Ambulance Service of New South Wales.
During the 17/18 Financial Year, NSW SES Personnel answered 81,197 calls at the State Operations Centre, including 36,169 calls to the Flood/Storm assistance line (132 500) and its volunteers responded to 18,040 Requests for Assistance (RFAs).
The State Headquarters (SHQ) of the NSW SES is located in Burelli Street, Wollongong.
At a state level, Directors are responsible for key functional areas (Finance, Assets & Business Services / Information & Communications Technology / Operational Response / Organisational Performance & Engagement / People & Development / Planning & Preparedness / Training) each Director is appointed to the rank of Assistant Commissioner. All these positions are based at NSW SES State Headquarters in Wollongong.
With 5 zones located across the state, Zone boundaries are generally based on river catchments, reflecting that floods are a major part of their work. The boundaries for the NSW SES's 240+ units are based broadly on local government boundaries, each unit is grouped with 2-7 other units to form a cluster.
As part of the Organisational Restructure project, on 2 October 2018, Regions were replaced with Zones. The previous 17 Regions had been based on river catchment areas, inline with the NSW SES responsibility to manage flood events, however an analysis of the demands placed upon the service indicates that a more effective way to organise Units would be based around areas which both reflected historic trends in terms of affected areas, and the distribution of the population across the state.
This resulted in the formation of 5 Zones.
Zone offices are managed by a Zone Controller and the Zone Business Support Services Manager, together form the Zone Management Team. Each Zone office could house a number of different staff roles including Zone Volunteer Communications & Engagement Officer, Zone Capability Officer, Zone Training & Delivery Officer, Zone Training Adviser, Zone Operational Readiness Officer, Financial Services Officer, Administrative Support Officer, additionally Zone offices can also accommodate some state wide staff roles, traditionally located at the state headquarters, these positions include, Coordinator Exercise Planning & Design, Planning & Research Officer, Safety, Health & Wellbeing Officer, Manager Hazard Planning, Coordinator Community Capability, Manager Capability & Resource Planning.
Zones may also have a number of volunteer capability units to support the Zone.
Dependent on factors such local operational demands, local Unit sizes, etc. Units can be grouped into Clusters. A cluster may contain 2-7 Units.
NSW SES Clusters are managed by a Local Commander. Local Commanders oversee operations at a scale between localised events which can be managed at a Unit Level, and larger scale events which require management at a Zone Level.
There are more than 240 SES Units forming the NSW SES. Most are based on former local government boundaries, although the NSW SES now also allows for the formation of Units which are not bound to geographic boundaries, such as the NSW SES Bush Search and Rescue Unit.
NSW SES Units are completely staffed by volunteers managed by Unit Commanders.
|Old Region||Region Code||New Zone||Zone Code|
|Sydney Northern Region||SNR||Metro Zone||MTZ|
|Sydney Southern Region||SSR|
|Sydney Western Region||SWR|
|Central West Region||CWR||Western Zone||WTZ|
|Far West Region||FWR|
|North West Region||NWR|
|Lachlan Region||LAR||Southern Zone||SHZ|
|Hunter Region||HUR||Northern Zone||NHZ|
|Mid North Coast Region||MNR|
|Southern Highlands Region||SHR||South East Zone||SEZ|
|Illawarra South Coast Region||ISR|
There is a number of state based units outside of the zone structure. These units generally have a state wide focus or report directly to the state capability team.
|Unit Name||Unit Code|
|Alpine Search & Rescue||ASR|
|Bush Search & Rescue||BSR|
|Corporate & Spontaneous||COS|
Rank and Insignia
In January 2018 the NSW State Emergency Service commenced a review of the rank and insignia structure within the organisation. Between October and December 2018 all members of the NSW State Emergency Service transitioned to the new rank structure.
Honours and awards
|NSW SES Life Member|
|NSW SES Commissioner's Unit Citation|
|NSW SES Commissioner's Commendation for Courage|
|NSW SES Commissioner's Commendation for Service|
|NSW SES Long Service Medal|
|NSW SES Long Service Badge - 5 years|
|Emergency Service Medal (ESM)|
Funding and support
The NSW SES receives funding primarily from the NSW Government. Resources are often obtained through numerous grants provided by public and private entities.
SES volunteers removing debris from Lake Albert, in 2010.
Queanbeyan headquarters of the SES, in 2011.
Gooloogong local SES unit shed, in 2011.
- "Annual Report". NSW State Emergency Service. Government of New South Wales. 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- "The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 23 No. 3, August 2008" (PDF). 1 August 2008. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
- "The Volunteer" (PDF). 1 September 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
- "NSW SES Annual Report - 2005-2006" (PDF). 6 January 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
- "New SES chief well qualified". Western Advocate. 26 October 2001. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
- "NSW SES Annual Report - 2008-2009" (PDF). 6 January 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
- Whitbourn, Michaela (12 June 2014). "SES Commissioner Murray Kear resigns following corruption finding at ICAC". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
- "Head of SES to face investigation". Illawarra Mercury. 7 November 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
- "NSW SES Annual Report - 2014-2015" (PDF). 6 January 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
- "SES Commissioner Adam Dent resigns after drink driving conviction". 30 January 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
- "NSW SES Annual Report 2016-2017" (PDF). 6 January 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
- "Media Release - David Elliot, Minister for Police and Emergency Services". 3 September 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
- "About us". State Emergency Service. Government of New South Wales. 10 August 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
- "New structure for NSW State Emergency Service". NSW Government - Office of Local Government.
- "Our Zones". NSW SES. 6 January 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2020.