The History of Victoria SES

The Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) started in 1950 as the Victoria Civil Defence Organisation.

The organisation was originally established to act as a volunteer based civil defence agency that could be quickly activated in the event of war. In the 1960s this role was enhanced to include management of peacetime disasters. In the 1970s, the Commonwealth also shifted its focus from civil defence to more general disaster management.

In 1972, legislation formally confirming the Victoria Civil Defence Organisation’s power was passed and the Victorian Headquarters established in 1973.

The Victoria Civil Defence Organisation was renamed the Victoria State Emergency Service in 1975 to conform with other states and was established to serve as a general emergency management agency.

Today the SES functions as a volunteer based emergency service across the State of Victoria. There are more than 5500 committed and dedicated volunteers around the state who provide these services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

VICSES undertakes a wide variety of roles including flood response, severe storms, earthquakes, road accident rescue as well as search and rescue.

VICSES also provides a support role to other emergency service agencies including the Victoria Police, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Country Fire Authority and Ambulance Victoria. VICSES also has a major planning role providing support and guidance to Government departments and municipalities, as well as providing an audit role on all municipal emergency plans.

Craigieburn SES Unit History

In the 1980’s, 24kms north of Melbourne in the suburb of Craigieburn, the number of homes, schools and business began to grow.

When any city begins to grow, many different services are needed to keep up with the growing community. The list of services could include: schools, churches, banks, petrol stations, supermarkets, restaurants etc. The community also needs its emergency services to protect it.

In 1981 the population of Craigieburn was 3825. By 1999 that figure had increased to 32,819. It is easy to see that the emergency services must keep pace with the rapidly growing community.

Since our formation in 1981, the workload of the Craigieburn Unit of the Victoria State Emergency Service has grown as a result of the increase in population, road and highway traffic and infrastructure.

The Craigieburn Unit of the Victoria State Emergency Service was formed in 1981 and at the first training night on a Wednesday, 16 people turned up to the pavilion at the football ground in Pines Way. Four of those Foundation Members are still actively serving in 2011. They are Kevin O’Callaghan, Alan Penaluna, Alan Ker and Paul Ledwich.

The members were issued with uniforms and the basic equipment that enabled them to commence operations. 30 years later some of that equipment is still in service or has been updated. Over the years other equipment has been purchased or issued.

The Unit’s Local Headquarters was built in 1982, (and extended in 2008), and is still in use today. It has separate areas for training, communications, equipment storage, vehicles and of course a kitchen, and bathroom facilities. The area outside the headquarters is ideal for training, where the Unit undertakes practical exercises regardless of weather conditions.