IPSWICH'S emergency services cadets have told of their shock and disappointment at a State Government decision to axe their funding.
Ipswich's 30 cadets had an emotional farewell meeting on Friday, following an announcement that $1.2 million that goes into funding their programs would instead be spent on Emergency Management Queensland. A dozen cadets at Goodna have also been affected by the funding cut.
Ipswich cadet co-ordinator Trudy O'Grady shed tears as she spoke about her young charges' commitment over the years.
Ms O'Grady started her cadet career 15 years ago at the age of 12 before working her way up.
"Watching what these kids get out of it and seeing how they grew - that was my reward," she said.
"A lot of the skills we taught them they used in their lives and it didn't matter what they chose to do. A lot of them would leave to pursue other interests, but then came back to join the SES."
Community Safety Minister Jack Dempsey blamed low recruitment levels from cadets to SES as the main reason for the funding cut. Originally run as the SES cadets, the system was changed 10 years ago to include the QFRS and QAS.
The Ipswich group received about $3000 in State Government funding per year, with Ipswich City Council contributing.
A source told the Queensland Times some of the Government funding could have been saved by removing some of the regulation surrounding the operation of individual cadet units.
However, members have said there was no consultation.
While the Ipswich members remain hopeful of a lifeline, members like Jamie Godfrey, 16, said they would struggle to find something to fill the void.
"It feels like a part of me has been taken away," he said.
"I have spent four years with the cadets and I was about to become an assistant leader next year."
On a positive note, Jamie said he intended to join the SES as a result of the closure of the cadets.
Member for Ipswich Ian Berry said it was one of the hard decisions that had to be made due to the $65 billion dollar debt left by the Labor Government.
"When the SES cadets were introduced, it was thought the program would provide a pathway into the SES," Mr Berry said.
"Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of volunteer co-ordinators, less than 10% of SES cadets go on to seek a role within the SES."
Mr Berry said he didn't expect any significant impact because a large proportion of SES cadets were less than 18 months away from turning 16, when they were able to join the SES proper.
"Alternatively there are many Ipswich organisations available to good young people seeking to serve the community," he said.
These included Scouts, Guides, Army, Navy and Air Force cadets, many sporting groups and PCYC.