The National Museum of Australia today took an SES uniform into its collection for the first time, while also launching a new website inviting the public to share their bushfire and COVID-19 experiences.
The distinctive orange pants and jacket with reflective strips were worn by NSW SES Sutton Unit Commander, Anthorr Nomchong, over the 2019-2020 bushfire season.
A resident of the NSW regional town of Queanbeyan and an NSW SES volunteer for over 12 years, Mr Nomchong wore the uniform as part of the SES’s critical logistical and communications support of the NSW Rural Fire Service’s efforts to fight the fires.
Mr Nomchong volunteered for 50 days over the 2019-20 bushfire season and described the experience of donating his uniform as “a privilege”.
“Being a NSW SES volunteer means helping people during the worst times of their lives, and the bushfires of last summer definitely reflected that.
“This is a moment in time which needs to be recorded in Australian history,” he said.
During last season’s devastating bushfires, the NSW SES provided assistance in the form of over 93,800 volunteer hours, which included clearing burnt trees for evacuation routes and logistical support.
“We are so pleased to take the NSW SES uniform into the collection as a way of honouring the volunteers who gave so generously last summer and who will continue to be there for us in times of need in the future,” said Museum curator, Craig Middleton.
NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York expressed the importance of the NSW SES uniform being acquired by the Museum.
“Anthorr’s donation of his orange uniform is a fine example of volunteerism. Giving and helping in times of need epitomises the volunteering spirit.
“This is an exciting day for the NSW SES as Anthorr’s contribution is the first item to be acquired by the National Museum of Australia from any SES from across the country.”
The acquisition coincides with today’s launch of a new Museum website, Momentous, an online project that invites Australians to share their stories and experiences of the bushfires and the pandemic, to create an online record of these significant moments in the nation’s recent history.
The Momentous website builds on the Museum’s successful Fridge Door Fire Stories and Bridging the Distance Facebook groups – and integrates both into the new platform.