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10 September 2019

Adjournment debate: Port Fairy CFA/SES

My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and the action I seek is a commitment to the co-location of the Port Fairy CFA and SES to the soon-to-be former Ambulance Victoria site. I have raised this matter in the house several times, but there is still no firm commitment that this project will happen, other than a government-authorised sign being stuck up with no time frames.

The community want to know when this is going to happen. There are some time restrictions around this for the SES, who are on a leased site which the landlord, the Moyne shire, have flagged they want back in the future. The SES want security to know they are going to have somewhere to go when the time comes for the shire to take the land back. I also want to make it clear that the shire and the SES are working together on this matter. There are no feelings of ill will between either of the parties.

The co-location makes perfect sense. Both the CFA and SES are in facilities that are not fit for purpose. Recently I had the honour of attending the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Warrnambool SES headquarters on Walsh Road. Just quickly, I want to congratulate the Warrnambool SES on this milestone. The new headquarters were built on land kindly donated by Warrick Loft. Since its opening the unit has responded to 1600 calls for help. I also want to congratulate Gerry Billings, who was awarded life membership of VICSES on that day, recognising his 42-plus years of volunteer service to the organisation. Gerry is well known in Warrnambool and is highly regarded across the state.

I have been to both the Warrnambool and Port Fairy SES bases many times, and there is no comparison between the two. For a start, the Warrnambool base does not have holes in the roof or the floor like the Port Fairy one does. There is room for equipment, and it has modern volunteer amenities. Port Fairy unfortunately has neither of those things.

The Port Fairy CFA is in a similar situation. It is a building that is 160 years old, has no change rooms for the many female volunteers, and getting trucks in and out of the shed is an operation in precision. A wrong move and there would be a lost mirror or a dinted roller door. These two groups work together, the community want them to work together and the organisations they are associated with want them to work together. The government has put up a sign on the site saying it is the future home. The only thing missing is government funding for the project to happen. Both the SES and CFA need new facilities to attract and retain volunteers and to be able to appropriately respond to their community‚Äôs calls for help.

With the new Ambulance Victoria station at Moyne Health Services approaching completion, the Port Fairy CFA and SES are asking when they will have some funding certainty and a time line for their much-needed new space. I ask the minister to provide them with that.