RYLSTONE VOLUNTEER RESCUE ASSOCIATION AWARDS
Mr PAUL TOOLE
(Bathurst—Parliamentary Secretary) [1.20 p.m.]: Today I will speak about the good work that is done by the New South Wales Volunteer Rescue Association and in particular the volunteer rescue association in Rylstone in my electorate of Bathurst. Volunteer rescue associations are located in 70 communities across New South Wales and the volunteers give up an enormous amount of their time. Their commitment is huge and they are out there working on behalf of so many people in their communities. The volunteers are the primary responders for road crash rescue, marine rescue, vertical rescue and just about any type of specialist rescue encountered by emergency service personnel. The volunteer rescue association also includes aerial patrols, communications, caving, bushwalking wilderness rescue, ski patrols and community first aid teams.
Members and their rescue squads are accredited by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services through the State Rescue Board as rescue operatives in their designated field. From the hostile marine environment to the unforgiving highways and roads, to the rugged forests and alpine areas of this great State, our small army of unpaid professionals is ready to respond at a moment's notice and ready to lend a helping hand anywhere and at any time. On Saturday night in my electorate I attended the annual awards dinner in Rylstone. It was an opportunity to come together and acknowledge those who have given so much over the past 12 months. It is not only an awards night; it is a night when we come together with family and friends to talk about and celebrate their achievements throughout the year.
That is important because the volunteers who give up their time for these programs are the first callout when there is an accident. When they go out it is not at the most convenient time; it might be in the middle of the night or in the middle of winter. They go out and witness many crashes and scenes that are not desirable. These people are a strong testament to the will of supporting their communities. I believe that being a volunteer is the ultimate in exercising one's democratic right. We in this Chamber go to elections every four years and vote for the people we want to elect. But people who decide to become a volunteer are deciding to do something every day in their community. By doing volunteer work they are helping to shape and service the community in which they live.
These volunteers do an enormous amount of good work. Obviously they run on a small budget and they raise funds throughout the year by holding barbecues and raffles. So any money they receive is valued. The community is a strong supporter of the Rylstone Volunteer Rescue Association. I am pleased to mention a number of businesses that have supported the association over the years. Some three months ago I had the opportunity to meet a number of members of the Rylstone squad and go through the shed. I was pleased that Glen Hinton, the Captain at Rylstone, was able to show me every aspect of their rescue equipment.
At the dinner on Saturday night two awards were presented. The first award was the Wayne Balfott Memorial Award, which is named after a member of the Rylstone volunteer rescue squad, who gave so much community service and time. This award went to Craig Martin, who is the Deputy Captain and the training officer. He received the award for the training he has given the other members of the Rylstone volunteer rescue squad. On Saturday night the members were at the function and on Sunday they would be back out at 9 o'clock attending further training sessions. The second award was the Ron Priestly Award, which was given for outstanding service. The award went to Lorna Anderson, who is the Secretary of the Rylstone Volunteer Rescue Association.
Other members I acknowledge who were also at the dinner with their friends, family and partners were Glen Hinton, the Captain; Arthur Mulholland, President and Deputy Senior Vice-President; Keith Grimshaw, founding member; Peter Anderson, Vice President; Tom McBean, life member; Bruce Fleming, Treasurer; Felicity Cresswell, member; Brett Gallagher, Deputy Captain; Craig Sams, member; Howard O'Regan, member and ambulance driver; and Ray, who was the president of the New South Wales Volunteer Rescue Association for a number of years and who is now the patron of the New South Wales Volunteer Rescue Association. It was a great night. The volunteer rescue squad does a lot of work in remote and country communities and I am proud of its efforts.