This guide is updated regularly to ensure that it provides an accurate picture of the Service’s work in implementing right to information reforms in New South Wales.
The SES’ vision is to build and support safe and resilient communities by providing the state's most versatile and utilised volunteer emergency service and to lead communities in managing floods, storms and tsunamis and to help people in other emergencies.
What we do
The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) is the lead agency in the response to floods, storms and tsunamis in New South Wales. The SES also supports other emergency services in times of natural and man-made disasters and is committed to building safer and more resilient communities.
The SES is the most versatile and widely used rescue and public safety organisation in New South Wales. Over 10,000 volunteers are always ready to assist their community through a wide range of emergencies.
The SES was established in 1955, as a result of devastating floods across NSW, particularly in the Hunter Region where loss of life as well as massive damage to property and infrastructure occurred. The SES has grown since this time and has been instrumental in the response to many disasters and emergencies, not only in NSW, but across Australia.
The Service’s core roles relate to floods, storms and tsunami. SES volunteers are highly skilled and well trained to provide rescue, first aid and other vital services in emergencies. All units respond to the damage caused by storms and most have an active flood management role as well. Many regional units are responsible for road-crash rescue within their own areas and all units throughout the State provide support to other emergency services (including the NSW Police Force, Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Rural Fire Service and Ambulance Service of NSW), as well as being involved in a range of community activities. SES volunteers frequently travel outside their own areas at short notice and some for days at a time, to respond to emergency situations in other communities.
The Service responds to a broad range of emergencies and is proud to say, it is the most versatile and widely used of the State’s emergency service organisations. The Service’s core business is managing the effects of floods, storms and tsunamis, which, between them, account for more than two-thirds of the dollar cost of natural disasters in NSW. Nevertheless, each unit is unique in its pattern of work because of the vast mix of threats and roles in each area. The SES maintains a network of volunteer flood gauge readers, who provide a valuable service in their local areas by reading stream gauges to assist in the accurate prediction of flood levels.
Volunteers also operate three radio outstations that provide radio relay in the event of the failure of normal communications systems.
The Services’ 246 staff are involved in such work as operational planning and response, community engagement, logistics, human services and corporate communications and are led by Commissioner Murray Kear AFSM.
Operationally, the SES divides the State into 17 regions, whose boundaries coincide as nearly as possible with major river systems. The Service has 228 units, each of which belongs to a region, and is led by a Region Controller. The Region Controller is responsible for the operational control of emergency response operations and the region headquarters provides administrative support to its units.
Every council area in New South Wales has an SES presence, and some of the more populous council areas have units with more than 100 SES volunteers. Most council areas have a single SES unit which is led by a Local Controller, but some council areas have two or more units each of which is led by a Unit Controller.
The State Headquarters of the NSW SES is located on Level 3, 6-8 Regent Street, Wollongong.
The SES offers a range of services to government agencies and the general public.
- FloodSafe Guide
- Business FloodSafe Toolkit
- StormSafe Guide
- Tsunami Awareness Brochure
- Home Emergency Kit
SES policies and procedures
The SES is committed to sharing information on how we do business. A number of policies governing the operation of the NSW SES including:
- Code of Conduct
- Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Policy
- Occupational Health and Safety Plan
The NSW SES also has a number of internal policies which are not available publicly including:
Standard Operating Guidelines, Operations and Safety bulletins: provide a framework for members to operate safely and responsibly in a range of situations
- Human Resources
- Information Technology
- Finance and Administration
- Workplace standards and conduct
The NSW SES is currently reviewing the management of its policy documentation which will include an assessment of those administrative and operational policies as listed above which may be appropriate for publication under open access provisions of the GIPA Act.
Government Information Public Access application form:
Access application form
The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (GIPA Act) replaces the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (NSW) and introduces a new right to information system.
The new system is focused on making government information more readily available. This means that a government agency must release information unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure.
The GIPA Act commenced on 1 July 2010.
Any person can make a formal application for access to information held by the NSW State Emergency Service. This should be the last resort, after the informal avenues have been tried.
A valid formal application for access to government information must:
- be in writing
- state that it is made under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW)
- have an Australian postal address for return correspondence
- provide sufficient details to help identify the information you want
- enclose the application fee of $30.00
Frequently asked questions
Tsunami information sheet
Publications, reports and papers
2009 - 2010 Annual Report
The SES welcomes feedback from members of the public, community organisations and government agencies regarding our services and publications. Should you wish to provide feedback, please call 1800 201 000 or email: www.ses.nsw.gov.au/site/contacts.html
The NSW Government has committed a minimum of $61 million per annum to fund the SES. On 11 November 2008, the NSW Government announced changes to the funding of the State Emergency Service (SES).
From 2009-10 onwards the SES will receive contributions of 14.6 percent of total recurrent and capital expenditure from the State Government, 73.7 percent of total expenditure from the insurance industry and 11.7 percent of total expenditure from local councils.
All SES units have 'Charitable Institution' status and are registered as Deductible Gift Recipients. SES units can accept donations in the form of cash or cheque and you should ask for a receipt for any donation that you make to your local SES unit. If you are interested in making a donation to your local SES Unit you can:
Donations should be made directly to local volunteer SES Units so that these donations are used to support the volunteers who in turn support their local communities in times of flood, storm and other emergencies. Donations can also be made to the SES Volunteer Association or the Australian Council of State and Territory Emergency Services .
The Service is committed to building and supporting safe and resilient communities by providing the state's most versatile and utilised volunteer emergency service and to lead communities in managing floods and storms and help people in other emergencies.
The Service’s goals are to:
- Strengthen community resilience before, during and after floods, storms and other emergencies
- Develop and support our volunteers and staff
- Enhance our capacity to deliver better services
- Be the emergency organisation of choice for volunteers and staff
- Build stronger partnerships with key stakeholders and the community
The SES’s corporate plan details the achievements made so far in establishing the office and outlines the timeframes for work that is currently underway.
SES Corporate Plan 2007-11
How to access our information
All information outlined in this publication guide can be downloaded free of charge from our website.
Alternatively, you may contact us on 1800 201 000 or email: www.ses.nsw.gov.au/site/contacts.html for a hard copy of our information.
Our contact details
The State Emergency Service website is located at: www.ses.nsw.gov.au
To contact us:
Mail: PO Box 6126, Wollongong NSW 2500
Telephone: (02) 4251 6111 (general enquiries) between 8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)
Visit our office between 8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays) on Level 3, 6-8 Regent Street, Wollongong.
If you have a hearing or speech impairment, you can call us through the National Relay Service (NRS) on 133 677 or if you want to talk to us with the assistance of an interpreter, you can call us through the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450.
Office of the Information Commissioner
The Office of the Information Commissioner is independent of government departments and exercises certain oversight functions.
The role of the Information Commissioner is to raise public awareness of the right to information laws and provide assistance, information, support and advice to government departments and the public.
The Information Commissioner has broad investigative powers and may require government departments to provide information and conduct inquiries pertinent to the administration of the GIPA Act .
The Information Commissioner conducts reviews of decisions by the NSW State Emergency Service where the applicant is aggrieved by that decision. (Reviews OIC - Information Access)
Further information may be obtained by contacting the Office of the Information Commissioner:
Telephone: 1800 INFOCOM (1800 463 626)