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Competition History

The Victorian Mine Rescue Competition evolved from a demonstration exercise in 1992 run by the Emergency Services at the State Coal Mine Reserve at Wonthaggi, Victoria.

This training exercise turned into a real life incident when one of the participants had a severe asthma attack. A short time after this training exercise the local Mines Inspector, Jock Davidson had a conversation with Spence Herd of ICI (now Orica). on the need for mine rescue training in Victoria. The Benambra Mine (at the time owned by Denehurst – also the owners of Woodlawn Mine in NSW) was in the process of establishing a mine rescue team.

Spence and Jock approached Barrie Lovely and Noel Justice of Stawell Gold Mines and between them organised a competition for 1993 between Benambra, Stawell Gold Mines and Woodlawn, which was held at Wonthaggi. (Benambra was unfortunately unable to attend the competition due to a site fatality).

George Opasinas of Drager was also approached, and between them the two companies provided sponsorship and trophies.

The local Police Sergeant was hesitant to let the competition go ahead due to the asthma attack in the demonstration competition previously. It was not until about 11.00pm on the night before the competition that Spence, George and Jock were able to convince the Sergeant to give the competition the go ahead. This was due to vigorous lobbying by the organisers who utilised the local pub for discussions.

John Reynolds of the Victorian Chamber of Mines was very interested in promoting and establishing a firm Mine Rescue presence in Victoria, and consequently, the VCM, Orica, Drager, Stawell Gold Mines and Noel Justice,( as the competition administrator), organised the next competition. This was held at the Central Deborah Mine in Bendigo in 1994. Teams from Woodlawn (NSW), Stawell, Kambalda (WA), Renison (Tas), Benambra and Mt Lyell (Tas) competed.

Due to the success of the competition and the emphasis on quality not quantity, the competition is limited to ten teams with teams competing from throughout Australia.

The competition has seen many changes over the years with some of the main improvements being the introduction of a professional make up artist to replicate patient wounds, which is a far cry from the use of tomato sauce in the early years.

Women also now play a significant role in mine rescue, as they do in the whole industry. In 1995 the first all female team from the Renison Mine in Tasmania successfully competed in the Victorian competition and continued to do so in later years.

The competition now attracts teams from all over Australia and is considered one of the best in the country.