An SCU thesis studying volunteers in NSW has caused conjecture among Coffs Harbour SES volunteers.
An SCU thesis studying volunteers in NSW has caused conjecture among Coffs Harbour SES volunteers.

SES don't want pay just recognition

COFFS Harbour SES unit controller Bill Roffey says a university thesis finding volunteers want to be compensated for their work is flawed. 

Mr Roffey has criticised the research of the Southern Cross University's Dr Anthony Baxter-Tomkins, which found "volunteers believe they should be compensated for working outside of their communities."

Dr Baxter-Tomkins focused his thesis on volunteers of the SES and Rural Fire Service in NSW.

But Mr Roffey says the mindset of most SES volunteers was about helping their neighbours, not serving in the role to receive compensation or payment.

"From my perspective, I would have to say that the research used by the PhD student from Southern Cross University is flawed," Mr Roffey said.  

"To arrive at the conclusion that SES volunteers 'believe they should be compensated for working outside their communities' is wrong.

"As unit controller of the Coffs Harbour City Unit, I received many requests from SES members to provide out of area assistance across the state - particularly during the recent floods out west and down south.

"SES members volunteer for many reasons, and when I speak to any person who wants to join, the words 'help' and 'local community' always come out - generally in the one sentence.

Dr Baxter-Tomkins, who is an active RFS member, found the volunteers he interviewed said they lost wages to serve outside of their own area.

"The volunteers of both organisations are happy to continue doing their service for their local community, but believe they should be compensated if they are tasked to jobs outside of their own community," Dr Baxter-Tomkins found.  

"Many volunteers lose wages when they go outside of their own area for extended periods, which is an important growing trend.

His research found 58% of the volunteers interviewed believed they should be reimbursed for out of area responses.



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