Emergency services in Australia are struggling to hold onto their volunteer staff. In New South Wales, for example, only half of the 1,700 volunteers who join the State Emergency Service are still active members a year later. In Western Australia, the overall yearly turnover is 12-18% and rising.
This represents a serious drain on the sector. Precise volunteer numbers are not always collated, but we estimate that more than 240,000 emergency service volunteers across Australia help to protect regional, rural and remote communities where the sprawling areas make it impractical to rely solely on career emergency workers.