While many parts of Victoria are being lashed by heavy rainfall today, it is also Harmony Day – a day that celebrates cultural diversity. Emergencies draw on our differences and make us stronger.
What diversity means to members
Michelle Piers joined the SES 14 years ago. She was absolutely thrilled about her first 3am call and being up on a roof. What she loves about the SES is that “everyone is equal regardless of where you are from, what you look like or what disability you may or may not have”.
Fifty years ago, Michelle arrived in Victoria from India just after the White Australia Policy was disbanded. Since then she has seen many changes.
“Diversity is being able to be happy when you’re working with your teammates, out on a job or in training, having no discrimination,” Michelle says. “I’m proud to be Victorian. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
“Even with the weather the way it is,” she laughs.
David Michalowsky’s background is Scottish and Polish heritage. He’s a teacher by trade and Monash SES Unit member.
“Both in my regular job and the SES I believe that diversity makes us stronger,” David says. “We all bring different things to our jobs and to the SES, and that can only improve the response that we give because we all come from different backgrounds.”
New people, new skills
Jacqueline Quaine is section leader of training and community education facilitator at the Monash Unit. She’s been with the SES for five years.
“My own cultural background on my Dad’s side is Swedish and on my Mum’s side is Australian for many generations,” Jaqueline says. “I think diversity is a lot of different things not just your cultural background, it can be your skills background as well.
I’ve come from a background in television news, environmental science and now emergency management. I think all of those things just strengthen our offer to the community because we can understand where different people are coming from.”
A role for everyone at the SES
Jenny Seeto is also a section leader of training at the Monash Unit. She joined the SES five years ago for the chance to learn new skills, and something quite different from her office job.
“Cultural Diversity Week is putting a spotlight on diversity and diversity for me at the SES means there’s something for everybody, it doesn’t matter what background, race, religion or sexuality you have,” she says.
Our volunteers create stronger communities – together
When severe weather hits Victoria, our SES volunteers – at the Monash Unit and across the state – are on stand-by to respond to any storm-damage or flood-damage calls for assistance. If you need flood or storm assistance, please call 132 500 or Triple Zero (000) if it is a life-threatening emergency.