Chris Welsh, a Brimbank SES Unit volunteer, has been behind Victoria SES’s involvement in Midsumma Pride March for the past five years.
When Chris joined the Brimbank SES Unit in 2009, he noticed that Victoria SES was not represented in the Midsumma Pride March alongside Victoria Police. He hailed from Sydney where the New South Wales SES regularly marched in the annual Mardi Gras.
“I took it upon myself to submit an entry to Midsumma Pride March and get some members along. In our first year we only had a very small number, 15 to 20 people. And now five years on we have members from all over the state coming down,” Chris says.
He’s expecting up to 100 members and their friends and family to participate in the parade.
“Those who march represent equality, diversity and inclusivity,” Chris says. “As an organisation and service, we are there for all Victorians regardless of who they are, or where they are from.”
Chris joined the SES to do something fun and community oriented. He counts his firsthand experiences emergency services and desire to help people as a motivation to volunteer: “You get to see things and be part of teams that you don’t normally do in your daily life.”
He also adds that as a volunteer you learn be involved in so much more and get to be a part of real-life emergency response situations.
Victoria SES CEO, Steve Griffin reflects on the leadership and courageous stand that was made by people participating in what is now Pride March.
He remembers Victoria Police’s early involvement when then Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Christine Nixon, broke new ground by getting involved in the parade. “SES was a supporter then, and in our recent history publicly supported the Pride March by participating.”
“It's an important declaration that shows Victoria SES is there to keep all communities safe. And our own community of SES volunteers is as diverse as those we serve,” says Steve.
This year, our officers in blue will join our volunteers in orange wearing rainbow epaulettes on their uniforms.
We will also march alongside other Victorian emergency services including the Country Fire Authority (CFA), Ambulance Victoria, Victoria Police and Emergency Management Victoria.
“Rain, hail or shine, we’ll be wearing orange,” says Chris.
Join us on Sunday 29 January 2017 at the Midsumma Pride March for a guaranteed day of fun and to celebrate diversity and inclusion.
Photo: Chris Welsh (in orange) and Brad Dalgleish, Operations Officer Operational Readiness (in blues) display the rainbow epaulettes Victoria SES members will wear on the day.
Photo: Chris Welsh with other Victoria SES members during the 2016 Midsumma Pride March.