‘There when disaster strikes’: Meet our vital volunteers
On the worst day of your life – when a severe storm strikes, or a fire consumes your property – emergency service volunteers are there for you. This week (May 15-21) is National Volunteer Week and you can thank emergency service volunteers at Sunshine Coast Council’s Emergency Expo this Sunday May 21.
On the worst day of your life – when a severe storm strikes, or a fire consumes your property – emergency service volunteers are there for you.
This week (May 15-21) is National Volunteer Week and you can thank emergency service volunteers at Sunshine Coast Council’s Emergency Expo this Sunday May 21.
It’s also a rare chance to learn about what they do and consider if you might like to pursue a role.
Many people volunteer to support their community. For others, it’s the opportunity to meet like-minded people and feel connected.
Ian Hunt is one such person who wanted to connect with his new community.
He joined Coast Guard Mooloolaba after moving to the Sunshine Coast from Canberra. Now, 21 years later, Ian is QF6 flotilla commander.
“Volunteering gives me a sense of pride about being a member of the team and the satisfaction of helping boaties in trouble.
“The best moment I can remember while volunteering was when we were searching for Maike Hohnen, his son Julian and their friend, after their boat sank at Caloundra Wide. We found them just in time,” Ian said.
Helping others a family tradition
Leonie Barnes has just arrived back from Tonga and Fiji where she’s been volunteering for the Australian Red Cross (ARC).
Leonie is following in her mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps by volunteering with ARC, but also because of a personal experience she had when she was 10.
“I was evacuated from Darwin to Perth via the Red Cross by plane, after Cyclone Tracy.
I can remember being looked after by a Red Cross lady until my grandmother came to get me.
“I vividly remember the whole process of evacuation and that's a role that I get involved in now.
“Most recently here in Australia, I was involved in responding to the flood event of January 2022 and helped to establish an evacuation centre in Nambour at the showgrounds.
“There were cats and dogs, horses and chickens, old people, young people, rough sleepers, tourists - everyone was affected in some way - it was a privilege to be able to help.
“People are the same the world over, particularly when drawn together by crisis.
“Volunteering, you learn so much about yourself, others and the community and humanitarian principles in general, that's why it's a really wonderful commitment to make to yourself and to the community in general,” Leonie said.
A passion for the surf and saving lives
For Shane Urban, who joined Surf Lifesaving as a nipper at Bribie back in 1978, volunteering is about sharing his love of surf and lifesaving with his family and keeping the community safe.
Shane’s most memorable volunteering moment was saving a dad and son who were caught in a rip and swept out to sea at Coolum Beach.
“The look of fear then gratitude I saw in the dad’s eyes remains with me to this day and is the intrinsic reason why I and all volunteer lifesavers do what we do.
“We all like to give back to the community we live in and help raise our families and this is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable memberships you will ever have,” Shane said.
There for us when we need them most
If you’ve ever thought about volunteering, or considered a career in emergency services, head along to the Emergency Expo this Sunday May 21, 10am - 2pm, on the Lake Kawana foreshore.
Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said the Emergency Expo was also a great opportunity to thank emergency services workers for their efforts in keeping our community safe.
“On your worst day – be it during a severe storm, house fire, or road accident - our emergency service personnel are there for you,’’ Mayor Jamieson said.
“Come along to the expo and thank them.”
Along with Sunshine Coast Council, the event is held in partnership with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), Queensland Police Service (QPS Sunshine Coast), Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS), UnityWater, Energex, State Emergency Service (SES), Surf Life Saving Queensland, Australian Volunteer Coastguard, Marine Safety Queensland, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Red Cross Australia and Volunteering Sunshine Coast.
For Emergency Expo information visit here.