The University of Newcastle, Australia

Making a difference in our community

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

The Hunter State Emergency Service has recognised the University's contribution to the recovery effort after April 2015 storms – the single largest event the Hunter region has experienced since the SES formed 60 years ago.

On Tuesday 8 September, SES personnel and UON staff involved in the storm response gathered to reflect on the University's efforts to support the community during the storm event. SES Hunter Region Controller Mr Jim McArthur spoke of the magnitude of the storm.

"From around 21,000 requests for assistance, up to 8,500 came from the Hunter Region. Local SES teams, supported by inter and intra-state crews and the Rural Fire Service, worked solidly for two weeks to meet the immediate needs in the Hunter Region," Mr McArthur said.VC accepts SES certificate

"The emergency response has been well publicised, but the support we received from the broader community is not as well- known.

"Thanks to the relationship that already existed between our organisations, at the prompting of John Chisholm (Organisational Resilience Coordinator), the University was very quick to put its hand up and offer accommodation to our out-of-area SES crews. We were and are extremely grateful for your support which allowed us to get on with our job," Mr McArthur said.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen proudly accepted the SES Certificate of Appreciation.

"This is much more than a gesture, and we thank you" Caroline said.

"Those days in April are firmly etched in all our minds. While we navigated our own issues, managing a co-ordinated approach to getting the University back on its feet, it was our natural response to act as part of the wider community.

"Filling that accommodation gap was a small thing for us, but in these kinds of situations it is a myriad of small things that make up a community response.

Both the Vice-Chancellor and Mr McArthur recognised the great opportunity for the two organisations to forge a strong relationship.

"We see this experience as setting the ground work for future plans, not just at Callaghan but at your other campuses as well.

"You have a brains-trust here at the University that could really support our efforts," Mr McArthur said.

The VC said UON would be eager to help in the future.

SES personnel and UON staff

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