The Queensland Government has announced the appointment of the first ever dedicated Chief Officer for the Queensland State Emergency Service (SES).

Mark Armstrong will commence in the new position from 5 February 2024.

The new position is part of major reforms underway to enhance the delivery of disaster and emergency management in Queensland and Mr Armstrong will assist with the reform work currently underway before officially assuming operational command of the SES by mid-2024.

Mr Armstrong has more than 25 years’ experience in the Australian Defence Force and major multinational corporations.

In 2022, Mr Armstrong commanded the ADF response to the South-East Queensland floods.

The Queensland Government is delivering significant changes to Queensland’s disaster and emergency management system, aiming to ensure the state is best placed to continue delivering exceptional services to all Queensland.

Work is well underway for both the SES and Marine Rescue Queensland (MRQ) to be established as entities in their own right hosted by the Queensland Police Service by mid-2024.

As part of these reforms, the SES will have its own operational budget, allowing for a strategic approach to critical disaster and emergency responses.

The SES will also benefit from more staff and more resources, including crucial safety equipment, vehicles and vessels.

Communities will benefit from their emergency services gaining enhanced resources and capability to respond effectively to community emergencies.

Mr Armstrong said, “I am honoured to be selected to lead dedicated volunteers and staff of Queensland’s SES in their important work in support of communities across the State,

“I look forward to engaging with the many important stakeholders as part of the reform process underway.”

Queensland Police and Community Safety Minister, Mark Ryan, said, “Everyone in the community sees the extraordinary efforts of Queensland’s dedicated SES personnel in support of the safety of our community.”

Mr Ryan said that Chief Officer Armstrong’s leadership skills and experience will help build on the important service that the SES provides across Queensland as well as assist in a reform work underway.

“He will lead a workforce which includes thousands of dedicated and hard-working volunteers who assist communities when they need help the most.” 

Queensland Police Commissioner, Katarina Carroll, said, I welcome the appointment of Mark Armstrong into the new role.”

Ms Carroll said the new emergency reforms, which are already well underway, will streamline co-ordination and improve interoperability with existing capabilities in the QPS.

“Unfortunately, Queensland has already faced significant weather events this season, and this impact has again demonstrated how important our emergency services and partner agencies are in protecting Queenslanders and their communities.”

President of the Queensland State Emergency Service Volunteers Association (QSESVA), Eddie Cowie ESM, said “The QSESVA welcomes the appointment of Mark Armstrong as Chief Officer of the Queensland SES and to lead the QSES into the future. 

“We acknowledge his extensive service to our country and know of his significant contributions to major events in Queensland.” 

Mr Cowie said the QSES has significant change in its future and is confident Mr Armstrong’s demonstrated leadership and engagement will create an improved, more robust, Queensland SES.

“I look forward to fruitful engagement with Mark to engage with our volunteers to build preparedness and resilience within communities in Queensland, many of which have been tested recently.”  

SES Volunteer Consultative Committee Chair, Sharn Pogan, said the committee is  excited to welcome Mark Armstrong to the Queensland SES. 

“We look forward to working collaboratively in the interests of our volunteers and communities in which we serve.”

Ms Pogan said that bringing new leadership and experience to the Queensland SES will not only be refreshing but also beneficial to the organisation in the exciting period of growth and changes.

“The transition has its challenges and we are sure Mark Armstrong can help us navigate through this journey to the new QSES.”

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