NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) member, Matthew Chifley, or “Pockets” as he is known to many, has been honoured with the Emergency Services Medal (ESM) in the 2021 Australia Day Honours list.
Currently serving in the Queanbeyan unit, Matthew joined the NSW SES in 1988 and has since helped protect the community during floods, storms, fires, road crashes and many more emergencies.
“There is unlikely to be a significant emergency event in the last 30 years that ‘Pockets’ hasn’t responded to,” said NSW SES commissioner Carlene York.
“Notably, the 1989 Newcastle Earthquake and the 1997 Thredbo Landslide. Two tragic events in our States history where he demonstrated determination, leadership, kindness and courage.”
In the aftermath of the Newcastle earthquake Matthew helped save the lives of people trapped under collapsed street fronts, and in the two weeks following the Thredbo landslide he took on high-risk activities to divert water and helped ensure that the scene was preserved before the coroner’s inquest.
Matthew has held a number of volunteer and staff positions with the SES, including region learning and development officer, alpine coordinator and zone training advisor.
He has also been a valued member of specialist NSW SES rescue teams such as road crash rescue and vertical rescue, and was instrumental in assisting the NSW Rural Fire Service during the devastating 2019-2020 bushfire season.
Police and emergency services minister David Elliott congratulated Matthew on his award.
“Over the past year we have seen exceptional heroism from our Police and Emergency Services who were on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic and the catastrophic bush fires,” Mr Elliott said.
“This is an opportunity to recognise those who have put their lives on the line to protect the community – and this honour is a reflection of our gratitude and thanks for their professionalism and selflessness.
“Matthew exemplifies the resilience and mateship that is integral to our community.”