Volunteer Rescue Association

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Wagga Wagga Rescue Squad Wagga Wagga Rescue Squad.jpg
Wagga Wagga Rescue Squad
VRA rescue demonstration ANSW Rescue and VRA Rescue demonstration1.jpg
VRA rescue demonstration

The Volunteer Rescue Association Inc (VRA) is an Australian organisation of volunteer members, they provide rescue to the communities across New South Wales. The first rescue squads, with the assistance of NSW Police formed the Volunteer Rescue Association, groups with common charters can become an affiliate of the Association.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Volunteering altruistic activity

Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity where an individual or group provides services for no financial or social gain "to benefit another person, group or organization". Volunteering is also renowned for skill development and is often intended to promote goodness or to improve human quality of life. Volunteering may have positive benefits for the volunteer as well as for the person or community served. It is also intended to make contacts for possible employment. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such as medicine, education, or emergency rescue. Others serve on an as-needed basis, such as in response to a natural disaster.

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In September 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.


In times of need, whether it be in the emergency or recovery phase, the VRA can bring affiliated squads together to provide assistance to other services or to assist one of its own affiliates.

The first VRA specialist squad, Bushwalkers Search and Rescue (today known as Bush Search and Rescue New South Wales) was formed in 1936. The first VRA General Land Rescue Squad was formed in 1950 to assist Police with recovery of persons from the Murrumbidgee River, to provide flood rescue, evacuations and ferrying of food and medicines between isolated communities around Wagga Wagga in southern NSW. Soon after the Wagga Wagga Rescue Squad became involved in general land rescue. In 1960 the Bourke Rescue Squad was formed, followed in 1962 by the Dubbo Rescue Squad. In 1969, at the suggestion of the State Police Commissioner several volunteer rescue squads (Albury, Dubbo, Narrandera and Wagga Wagga) met and formed the Volunteer Rescue Association. VRA Rescue Squads continued to be established where a need existed and the Police, Ambulance, Fire Brigade and local community supported the establishment of a volunteer rescue squad.

Today, the Volunteer Rescue Association provides a training structure with CBT Competency Based Training under its own Registered Training Organisation VRA Training Pty Ltd (#40468), and with policies and procedures affiliated rescue squads provide a comprehensive rescue service to the community. The Volunteer Rescue Association provides a command structure when rescue squads come together, during major incidents, with standardisation of equipment, all come together as a cohesive team.

Regional squads can be either land or marine based. Land-based squads can be involved with motor vehicle accident rescue, vertical rescue, river rescue and dive rescue. Marine-based squads can be involved with coastal emergencies on the north and south coast. In addition, there are specialist squads with particular skills who do not operate in any particular region. Examples of these include squads with bushwalking, cave rescue, radio (communications), Australian Civil Air Patrol (aircraft), and dog expertise.

The current President of the Volunteer Rescue Association is Mark Gibson.

Major Incidents Attended

The Volunteer Rescue Association is involved on a day-to-day basis in general rescue operations primarily, road accident rescue, land and maritime search and rescue operations. This extensive experience is invaluable in times of major operations. The Volunteer Rescue Association (as the VRA) has responded to the following major incidents:

1997 Thredbo landslide

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1999 Sydney hailstorm 1999 storm in Australia

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While assisting at these major operations, VRA units continued to meet their primary responsibility of providing rescue services to their communities.


As with many volunteer organisations, an increasing number of VRA squads face difficulties recruiting sufficient personnel in order to respond effectively to incidents. This has led to a gradual decline in the number of accredited squads from 47 in 2007 [1] down to 32 by 2013, [2] with responsibility moving to other organisations such as Fire and Rescue NSW and the State Emergency Service.

Fire and Rescue NSW agency responsible for firefighting, rescue and hazmat services in the major cities, metropolitan areas and towns across rural and regional New South Wales, Australia

Fire and Rescue NSW, an agency of the Government of New South Wales, Australia, is responsible for firefighting, rescue and hazmat services in the major cities, metropolitan areas and towns across rural and regional New South Wales. Fire and Rescue NSW is the seventh largest urban fire service in the world, with over 6,800 firefighters serving at 335 fire stations throughout the state, supported by 465 administrative and trades staff and 5,700 community fire unit volunteers. FRNSW are also the busiest fire service in Australia, attending over 124,000 incidents a year and undertaking 52,000 community activities in 2017/18.

State Emergency Service

The State Emergency Service (SES) is the name used by a number of volunteer organisations in Australia that provide assistance during and after major incidents, such as floods, storms, cyclones, and bushfires. The SES also assist in other emergencies, such as vertical and road crash rescues, missing persons searches, and medical evacuations. In other scenarios the SES may provide a support role to other agencies, particularly police and fire. The SES is operational 24 hours a day. The SES is constituted as separate organisations operating in the various Australian states and territories. Eight of the SES organisations co-ordinate through the Australian Council of State and Territory Emergency Services (ACSES).

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New South Wales Ambulance

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New South Wales State Emergency Service

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Bush Search and Rescue Victoria

Bush Search and Rescue Victoria (BSAR) is a volunteer search and rescue group active in the state of Victoria (Australia) and is affiliated with Bushwalking Victoria. Bush Search and Rescue participates in land-based search and rescue activities for persons lost in the bush, in conjunction with and under direction from the Victoria Police Search and Rescue Squad.

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