Aussie youth called to become emergency volunteers

Young emergency volunteers have been actively involved in the brave fight against Victoria's tragic fires and their aftermath.


Despite this good news, the bulk of Australia's 500,000 emergency volunteers are aging along with our population. Estimates suggest that the average age of our world class - but shrinking - emergency volunteer base is over 50.


As temperatures rise and rainfall records break, we need young Australia to rise to the challenge of protecting people, property, and the environment.


Climate scientists predict more intense and more frequent floods, fires and storms, so we urgently need to reverse some troubling emergency volunteering trends.


Between 1988 and 2004, Country Fire Authority Victoria volunteer numbers declined 30% from around 83,000 to 68,000. Additionally just 6.4% of Queensland Rural Fire volunteers are under the age of 24, and 49% are aged between 45 and 65. T


hese patterns of declining volunteer numbers and an aging volunteer base exist across the majority of Australia's emergency volunteering organisations. It's not always been like this.


The average age of WW2 infantry soldiers was 26. We need to build a comparable aged volunteer response force to prepare for extreme weather trend predictions.


Gen Y can play a crucial role in this effort. Despite negative reports about this generation, nearly 30% of them volunteer regularly, and this generation has considerable concern and awareness about climate change.


To help Gen Y connect the dots between climate change and emergency volunteering, a partnership between Green Cross Australia, the SES, the Red Cross and the Rural Fire Service is moving the recruitment call into cyberspace.


Five young active emergency volunteers from various agencies across Australia are reaching out to recruit their peers across social networks through www.extremeweatherherores.org - an Internet network that utilises the web and Facebook, You Tube, Flickr and Twitter.


Read the full media release by downloading it from the Resources section.

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