How our people are supporting flood-affected communities
As the extent of the damage continues to unfold after the flood emergency across much of New South Wales, Victoria, and South East Queensland, our people are leading the way in supporting not just our customers, but the communities who have also been devastated.
As a home insurance Claims Specialist, Adrian Cooper is no stranger to supporting our customers – particularly in the aftermath of a weather event – but it’s his inspiring work as an SES volunteer that gives him a unique level of compassion and empathy, supporting various communities who have been struck by tragedy.
As an SES Deputy Group Leader in Brisbane’s Eastern suburbs, Adrian oversees a team of 132 volunteers arranging deployment and assistance across the region. Most recently, Adrian was deployed to the State Operation Centre to help with the bushfire recovery effort: one year later he is supporting the recovery efforts of the floods. Granted paid emergency response leave, his request was fast-tracked by his manager, allowing Adrian to give 100% of his time to his role as an SES volunteer over the coming weeks.
Adrian Cooper, home insurance Claims Specialist
Volunteering for the SES something that I love doing and I want to help people in need when they need us the most.
Prior to this, Adrian was working in his full-time role during the day, and selflessly spending his evenings arranging deployments right across NSW and SEQ as the news of the event unfolded in real-time.
"I always make my paid employment a priority before my volunteer role, so as soon as I finish for the day with Suncorp, I deploy to my local area and will spend the evening completing tasks that are allocated to my SES group."
All Australian employees who are volunteer members of the State Emergency Services, the Country Fire Authority, and RSPCA are eligible for emergency response leave; something Adrian doesn’t take for granted.
"Over the last couple of years, The Servus ERG Committee and Suncorp have worked to introduce unlimited Emergency Service Leave because they understand that employees who are part of organisations like SES, CFS, and Defence Force are called upon in disasters like what we are facing at the moment., said Adrian. (just update to: at the moment,” said Adrian.
[Paid emergency response leave] enables these highly trained individuals to devote time to assist the communities that have been affected by disasters.
I know a lot of volunteers who go on deployment and sacrifice an income while they are away because they don’t have the leave or support like Suncorp offers.
Announcing a partnership with the Queensland State Emergency Service (QLD SES) in 2020, it's enabled Suncorp to better serve and support communities, as well as continue to help highlight the work of SES volunteers.
"It is great to work for a company that supports our emergency services and is proud of what we do as volunteers in the community."
For the past week, Adrian has been managing every aspect of his own role with the SES, as well as his team’s, in his spare time. Some of his team are evacuating individuals from regions cut off by floodwater; tarping roofs and sandbagging properties; mobilising teams across the affected regions; all while passionately still performing his regular 9-5 role.
"Over the last five days, we had a request for a flood boat taskforce and boats to go to Port Macquarie, plus two additional Heights Safety taskforces to head down to assist with the flooding on the Central Coast NSW. As I oversee logistics, I had to prepare and stock a vehicle to deploy and be self-sufficient because it was unknown what resources – like a generator and equipment – would be available to them down there."
State Emergency Service (SES) Director Bran Cox said it had been a busy period for Queensland’s SES volunteers responding to severe weather events across two states.
“South East Queensland was impacted by heavy rainfall from Sunday to Tuesday evening, which resulted in dangerous flash flooding and riverine flooding,” Mr Cox said.
“Our hard-working SES volunteers responded to more than 1400 requests for assistance during this time, with the majority of the work concentrated around the Gold Coast and hinterland areas.
“In addition, over 100 of our volunteers from across the state have deployed to New South Wales to assist our southern neighbours respond to the devastating flood event that has impacted a large part of the state. Whilst in NSW, our crews have been busy undertaking storm damage and flood boat operations.”
To date, more than 40,000 people have been affected by evacuation orders, with close to 2,000 SES volunteers deployed across the regions worst hit. Adrian, a decade-long SES volunteer also worked during the devastating 2011 Queensland floods. You can read about Adrian’s recollection here.