31/05/2024 11:44 AM

NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) is recognising National Reconciliation Week this year by continuing to learn about the shared histories and cultures of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and reflecting on their contributions and achievements in keeping our communities safe. 

National Reconciliation Week is held annually from 27 May to 3 June and is a time for all Australians to explore how they can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia and work toward a more unified country.  

Currently, approximately four per cent of NSW SES members identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. NSW SES continues to harness the diverse knowledge, skills and lived experience that every member brings to the Service and welcomes the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in keeping communities safe from storms, floods and tsunamis. 

One such incredible Indigenous volunteer is Bec Trindall, who is Deputy Commander with the NSW SES Walgett Unit. 

Bec has donned her orange uniform since September 2022, after the local government reached out for volunteers to help support the community during a flood event.  

My daughter and I, who was 16 at the time, joined up straight away. She became the youngest member of the Walgett SES Unit. We went through the event and were trained afterwards,” Trindall said. 

“Out here the country is really flat so the more water you get, the wider spread the flood is. We’ve got Namoi village and Gingie Reserve and they’re both situated outside the levy, so we had to do ferry runs twice a day to get people into town and back out to their homes.” 

It really was a community effort. I think it was amazing because I had my daughter, my father and my stepmother who all signed up to help. My uncle was already in the SES, so we all had connections. It was awesome to work together as a team with the people who came out on deployment to give up their time. They learnt from us, and we learnt from them.” 

More importantly, Bec is a proud Gomeroi woman from Gamilaroi land having been born in Narrabri. 

Our land stretches from Tamworth right up onto the Queensland border in the north and joins Wiradjuri and Wailwan Country in the south and out west towards Brewarrina. 

We’re part of a big family clan. We come from a strong ancestral line and are very proud traditional people. That’s important to me. I call culture soul food. It’s something that feeds your soul.” 

For Bec, family is everything and she is enormously proud of the fact that her family are all involved with the NSW SES. 

“Now I’ve got two daughters and a son in law in the SES with me too. My youngest daughter just turned 16 and joined up during the Hudson fires. She was helping out filling up the planes with water and retardant. She’s our youngest member now. My other daughter has a boyfriend who signed up as well and they’re well on their way to becoming fully fledged members.” 

“I home school my children, so you have to find extracurricular activities. So, for my daughter, Felicity, when she was 16 and signed up, she took to it like a duck to water. It was fabulous to bring her out of her shell. She loves it and has learnt new skills.” 

That’s a big reward. To see your children learning and growing and being a part of something that’s bigger than them.” 

Together Bec and her family continue to connect with Country. 

“We still practice traditional medicine. My father, daughter and I went out to collect bush medicine the other day. My daughter has launched a skin care range with traditional ingredients, so it’s having the opportunity to still connect in traditional ways.” 

It’s sort of like an each one, teach one type model. It’s spending time together but it’s also learning together. Our children will be able to reach back in their memories and be able to do the same things that we have done.” 

Bec is striving to share her First Nations knowledges and practices with her unit and neighbouring units  

Recently when we out to do some flood boat capability training, we showed everyone the tea tree that grows on the Barwon River, so you know you must be on that river if they are around. It’s important to embed that sort of knowledge because people have lived it for years.” 

“We learn a lot through our SES training, but there’s a lot to learn through local knowledge. That’s invaluable. It can’t be bought. It needs to be held and taught through local people. 

My father does some cultural awareness training and has made up some videos that we share with people. Our Western Zone Commander, Brigid Rice has watched the videos, seen some of the artefacts and had yarns. It’s something that we like to share because we’re very proud of it.” 

“We have spoken about bringing our Zone members out to do some training on Country. We could show them around and show them a bit of bush tucker. I think it’s a good way to team build and get to know each other as well. It’s a safe space and opportunity to ask questions and learn from each other.” 

Bec is heavily involved internally in the reconciliation space, being a Member Advisor on the NSW SES Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee (DISC), the DISC Champion for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group and a key member of the NSW SES Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Working Group. 

Media enquiries: or call 1800 067 234.

Tweed Coast Unit - 6 Centennial Drive Pottsville NSW
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