Orange army’s labour recognised at awards

SES Team Achievement Award winners SW-LSW Vertical Rescue Team - Petrina Yates, Adrian Yates, David Hull , Colin Keys, Kim Perks and Suzie Pearce
SES Team Achievement Award winners SW-LSW Vertical Rescue Team - Petrina Yates, Adrian Yates, David Hull , Colin Keys, Kim Perks and Suzie Pearce

A State Emergency Service (SES) unit that responded to a fatal abseiling accident in the South West earlier this year was among the winners at last night’s Western Australia Fire and Emergency Services (WAFES) Awards.

A Team Achievement Award was presented to the group of 10 volunteers for their efforts to help a group of school students stranded in a cave near Margaret River in March. Two rescuers abseiled into the cave to help an instructor who had fallen 40m but sadly he could not be revived.

The WAFES Awards celebrate the achievements of groups and individuals working and volunteering across WA’s emergency services. The incredible efforts of WA’s orange army – the SES – were recognised across three categories at the ceremony in Perth.

One of the night’s highest honours, the Peter Keillor Award, went to Canine Unit SES Deputy Manager Leonie Briggs for her work teaching more than 30 dogs to follow their noses in the hunt for missing people across WA.

Affectionately known as the “fairy dogmother”, Deputy Manager Briggs’ volunteering spans more than a decade and her efforts have been critical to the unit’s growth.

Anjuli Till from Kalgoorlie-Boulder SES took out the Youth Achievement Award. The 25-year-old Local Manager is a natural-born leader who has quickly risen through the ranks and has been a driving force for volunteer recruitment.

Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm AFSM said the awards recognised SES volunteers as WA’s first line of defence against natural hazards.

“These incredible volunteers help keep communities safe and respond to emergencies such as cyclones, storms, land rescues and floods,” Commissioner Klemm said.

“Over the last financial year, SES volunteers attended 2691 incidents and requests for assistance and volunteered 25,846 hours of their time.

“These awards are a chance to pause and extend our gratitude to volunteers who put their own lives on hold to help others during a crisis.  

“I congratulate this year’s WAFES Award winners and finalists – they are all extremely deserving of this recognition.”

The winners from the 2023 WAFES Awards in the SES categories are:

State Emergency Service Youth Achievement Award

Anjuli Till, Kalgoorlie-Boulder State Emergency Service

Anjuli’s progression at Kalgoorlie-Boulder SES has been nothing short of remarkable. After joining in 2018, it has taken her just five years to rise through the ranks and become the Local Manager. A natural leader, Anjuli took charge of the unit’s 2022 recruitment campaign with incredible energy and organised numerous training sessions under new formats that received high praise from local volunteers.  

Peter Keillor Award

Leonie Briggs, Canine Unit SES

The backbone of the SES’ friendliest and fuzziest team, Leonie is an expert dog trainer who has schooled more than 30 pooches in search and rescue since she joined the Canine Unit more than 10 years ago. A sought-after commodity, Leonie was instrumental in helping establish a volunteer canine rescue unit in New South Wales last year and developed a training and assessment standard for search dogs that is now nationally recognised.  

State Emergency Service Team Achievement Award

Southwest/Lower Southwest Vertical Rescue Team  

When a group of school students and teachers found themselves stuck at the bottom of a cave near Margaret River during an abseiling excursion in March, this specialised rescue team quickly sprang into action to escort people back to safety in wet and slippery conditions. Two members of the team abseiled into the cave to treat an injured instructor who had fallen 40m to the bottom of the cave, but sadly he could not be revived by first responders. Several partner agencies praised the rescue team for their professionalism and empathy during the incident.   

For more information about the 2023 WAFES Awards visit