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Employers of emergency services volunteers celebrated
Thursday 17 December 2015 – 2:45 PM

​Sixty seven outstanding businesses, including seven self-employed volunteers, were recognised for the vital support they provide to fire and emergency services at a ceremony held at Government House today.

Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis presented the Volunteer Employer Recognition Awards (VERA) to the companies in appreciation of the important contribution they  make.
 
“Nearly  thirty  thousand  emergency service volunteers across Western Australia donate their time to help those in need, from fighting out of control bushfires, to searching for people lost at sea and responding to cyclones that lash the coast,” Mr Francis said.
 
“Without the continued support of their employers, many of these dedicated volunteers wouldn’t be able to respond to emergency  situations during work hours.
 
“Their support and cooperation enables volunteers to have flexible working arrangements to respond to emergency situations and attend training to improve their skills and knowledge.”
 
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson commended recipients for their support.
 
“Whilst your day-to-day  business varies, from self-employed electricians to large mining companies, you all share a common desire to support the community and the emergency services,” Commissioner Gregson said.
 
“Of course Mother Nature doesn’t work nine to five and emergencies can strike at any time, day  or night.
 
“Your support by releasing employees during work hours or for self-employed volunteers, dropping your tools at a moment’s notice, is critical to ensuring that the volunteer emergency services can respond.
 
“A  task that would be so much harder without the support of employers and work colleagues who stand behind them.
 
“Your actions are highly  commendable and are a reflection of your connection to the community.”
 
VERA recognises employers and self-employed volunteers in three categories, according to their level of support. In 2015 there were 32 gold, 20 silver and 15 bronze award winners.
 
Recipients this year included self-employed volunteers such as Kwinana South Volunteer Bush Fire Service member Mark Nelson who attends numerous incidents during the night impacting his ability to operate his own business, Test and Go, during the day.
 
A number of small businesses were awarded, such as Fitzroy Hardware, who release their employees on paid leave during work hours to attend emergency incidents, as well as providing other support to their local Volunteer Fire and Emergency Service.
 
Larger organisations such as Woodside and Rio Tinto were also recognised for their positive approach to supporting emergency service volunteers, such as providing paid emergency service leave, donating vehicles and equipment to volunteer brigades and actively promoting volunteering.
 
Their support and cooperation enables volunteers to have flexible working arrangements to respond to emergencies and attend training to improve their skills and knowledge. They also offered the use of company vehicles, donated rest time and supported community safety initiatives.
 
The awards are the first of their kind in Australia to receive formal accreditation.