Former Army officer to go into battle for SES

Michael Weaver 3 December 2020
Anthony Draheim

The ACT’s new chief officer of the State Emergency Service, Anthony Draheim. Photos: Michael Weaver.

Former career Army officer Anthony Draheim has been named the new chief officer of the ACT SES, a role that he says was a natural progression after a 30-year career in the military.

“I always saw this role as a transition out of Defence. As we’ve seen recently, there has been a focus of Defence members transitioning successfully into new jobs, and my plan was always to join the emergency services in some capacity,” he said during his first day on the job at the ACT Emergency Services Agency at Fairbairn.

The familiarity of the military environment at Fairbairn also suits the former Army officer who joined the military through Duntroon and worked as a logistics and human resources officer. He rose through the ranks to conclude his ADF career as Chief of Staff at the Royal Military College at Duntroon.

He has been working at ESA HQ since January this year as the director of training coordination and management and has also been a volunteer with the ACT and NSW SES for more than 10 years.

Mick Gentlemen with ACT SES Chief Officer Anthony Draheim and Deputy ESA Commissioner Ray Johnson

Police and Emergency Services Minister Mick Gentlemen with ACT SES Chief Officer Anthony Draheim and Deputy ESA Commissioner Ray Johnson.

“I’m really happy to say that this role has been handed over to me in a position of strength, thanks to Matt Shonk and Jeff Butler, who have held the reins since Georgeina Whelan left the position,” Mr Draheim said.

“The building blocks are all there, and as we saw on Tuesday evening this week [when a storm his the ACT]. The service did an outstanding job at short notice. We had about 15 minutes notice to get out and we completed about 66 jobs that evening.”


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He said he is looking to build on the army of volunteers in the SES, particularly women and younger people.

“I think the strength of the organisation over the last three to four years is in building the youth elements of the force and also building female participation. I think we can take that a step further and build even greater diversity to better represent the ACT community.

“Having [volunteered] myself, I’d say, give it a crack. Australia cannot survive without volunteers across all organisations. ACT SES and the other volunteer organisations within our Emergency Services Agency provide excellent support.

“We are open to most people. There are some limitations, but 99 per cent of the population can join in.

“Numbers are capped at 386 people and we’ve just recruited 70 volunteers who came on board less than two weeks ago. We’re looking at recruiting again next year and fortunately, we have too many people applying and not enough positions, but that’s a great place to be in.”

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman said he was pleased to have the calibre of Mr Draheim in the role to lead the SES to support the community through storms, floods, search operations and other emergencies.


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ACT ESA Commissioner Georgeina Whelan welcomed Mr Draheim to the role and said she is looking forward to working closely with him across the rest of the storm season.

“Anthony has planned and supported both humanitarian aid and disaster responses at a national and international level. He also has a wealth of knowledge and experience in logistics, HR and training and has previously served as an SES volunteer with both the ACT and NSW,” said Commissioner Whelan.

“Mr Draheim will bring to the job practical experience as a leader in delivering business organisational change. I look forward to seeing the contribution he makes to one of the ACT Government’s great volunteer-based organisations.”

Former SES Chief Officer Georgeina Whelan was promoted to ESA Commissioner in October last year.


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