New South Wales State Emergency Service

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NSW State Emergency Service
Thredbo landslide.jpg
NSW SES volunteers (in orange overalls) assist at the Thredbo landslide, 1997
Agency overview
Formed 1955
Preceding agencies State Emergency Services
(April 1955 – September 1955)
Civil Defence
(September 1955 – 1989)
Jurisdiction New South Wales
Minister responsible Hon. Stuart Ayres MP, Minister for Police and Emergency Services
Agency executive Adam Dent, Commissioner
Key document State Emergency Service Act, 1989 (NSW)

The NSW State Emergency Service or NSW SES, an agency of the Government of New South Wales, is an emergency and rescue service dedicated to assisting the community in times of natural and man-made disasters. The NSW SES is made up almost entirely of 10,251 volunteer members, via 228 suburban, regional and rural units located throughout New South Wales. The volunteers are easily identified by their distinctive orange overalls.

With its history going back to 1955, a State Emergency Services' organisation was established after the devastating Hunter Valley floods of 1955, when they merged with Civil Defence in response to fears of a nuclear attack, and then restructured in 1972 and again in 1989, following the enactment of the State Emergency Service Act, 1989 (NSW).

Emergency support[edit]

The major responsibilities of the NSW SES are for flood (including Flood Rescue), tsunami and storm operations. The NSW SES also provides the majority of General Land Rescue effort in the rural parts of the state. This includes road crash rescue, vertical rescue, general rescue, bush search and rescue, evidence searches (both metropolitan and rural) and other forms of specialist rescue that may be required due to local threats. The Service's trained rescuers also support the full-time emergency services during major disasters.[1]

The NSW SES also assist other emergency services when they are performing major operations. These services include the New South Wales Police Force, the NSW Rural Fire Service, the Fire and Rescue NSW and the Ambulance Service of New South Wales.

Organisational structure[edit]

The state headquarters of the NSW SES is located in Wollongong, with 17 regional headquarters located across the state. Region boundaries are generally based on river catchments, reflecting that floods are a major part of their work. The boundaries for the SES's 228 units are based on local government boundaries.

NSW SES volunteer units are managed by Local Controllers. Where there is more than one unit in a local government area, or a number of units in close concentration, a Unit Controller is appointed to manage each unit with a Local Controller overseeing operations on a larger scale than at the individual unit but smaller scale than at the Regional Headquarters. Region offices are managed by a Region Controller. Offices also have a Deputy Region Controller, Learning and Development Officer, Business Manager and Business Services Officer. Volunteers may also be attached to a region office.

The 17 regions are: Sydney Northern, Sydney Southern, Sydney Western, Illawarra South Coast, Hunter, Mid North Coast, Clarence Nambucca, Richmond Tweed, Namoi, North West, Far West, Murray, Murrumbidgee, Central West, Southern Highlands, Lachlan and Macquarie.

At a state level, Directors are responsible for key functional areas (Logistics, Operations, Human Services, Information Technology and Emergency Risk Management). All these positions are based at NSW SES State Headquarters in Wollongong.

Funding and support[edit]

The NSW SES receives funding primarily from the NSW Government and donations made by members of the public. Resources are often obtained through numerous grants provided by public and private entities.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About us". State Emergency Service. Government of New South Wales. 10 August 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 

External links[edit]