More than 86 per cent of eligible emergency service volunteer groups across regional Western Australia have applied to receive the Royalties for Regions-funded Emergency Services Volunteer Fuel Card (ESVFC).
Applications closed for the card on January 10, six weeks after they opened in November, and saw a staggering 807 out of 933 eligible organisations apply for the ESVFC.
The ESVFC uptake is better than expected, according to Nationals MP Hon Martin Aldridge.
“The Department of Fire and Emergency Services application process received 807 applications for the fuel card, out of a possible 933 eligible brigades, groups and units (BGUs),” Mr Aldridge said.
“This is a remarkable application rate, given the short application window and busy fire season we have experienced so far.”
The ESVFC will provide a $2000 per year fuel card for eligible emergency service volunteer organisations in recognition of the many out-of-pocket expenses borne by volunteers whilst providing a vital regional service.
Mr Aldridge congratulated DFES, Volunteer Associations and Local Government for their assistance in promoting the fuel card and assisting BGU’s to apply.
“I was initially concerned with aspects of the application process, particularly the short window and busy bushfire season,” Mr Aldridge said.
Mr Aldridge said applications received after the January 10 deadline would be considered, and BGUs not applying would be invited to apply directly to the project’s manager before the data is finalised.
“It is welcome news that DFES are assisting BGU’s that were tasked to the South West fires earlier this year with their application and that late applications would be accepted,” he said.
“We often talk about the value of volunteers and volunteering to our communities but rarely do we make progress on ensuring re adequately recognise their contribution.
“We hope the ESVFC in some small way recognises the large contribution made by emergency service volunteers in our regional towns and often the great sacrifice they make to serve us all.”
The ESVFC is now in production and are due to be distributed next week. The cards will be included in an information pack to be mailed to the postal addresses of BGUs from which a valid application was received.
Copies of the information pack are also now available for download at www.dfes.wa.gov.au/fuelcards