“Not the typical mum role”: leading a unit and juggling family life

“Not the typical mum role”: leading a unit and juggling family life

06/03/2023, 12:00 PM

Last week, Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) Erica Unit took part in the local Erica Country Expo, displaying to community members the diverse roles within the service, and the pathways available as a VICSES volunteer.

VICSES Erica Unit Controller, Tiff Moore, helped to lead the Expo on behalf of the agency - donning her SES orange overalls - alongside local stallholders selling craft products, and clothing.

“The benefit of being seen there is just that, to be seen.” Says Tiff. “A lot of people don’t know what VICSES does.”

VICSES Erica Unit volunteers respond to flood and storm events, but they also support other agencies locally, like Ambulance Victoria, Victoria Police, and local Country Fire Authority (CFA) brigades. “A lot of the time, people call Triple Zero (000) rather than 132 500 and they don’t know who they’re going to get,” says Tiff. “With this outreach, we can give them a better idea of who to call and when.”

Tiff juggles her duties as Unit Controller with her two kids, who are four and six years old. “I always put family first; they’re my priority, but any spare time I have, I fit SES in,” says Tiff. “It was challenging to take on the Unit Controller role because my youngest at the time hadn’t even turned two years old, so it was very full on.”

“Apart from how fulfilling it is to work in the emergency services, I wanted to do something for myself; away from the typical mum role. It’s important for me to have an outlet of what I enjoy doing, which is learning new skills and being part of the community,” says Tiff. “SES was able to provide me with that.”

Tiff had no prior experience as a VICSES volunteer when was chosen as Unit Controller in June of 2020, but she brought five years of experience with the Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning (DELWP) as a firefighter, responding to bushfires and managing planned burns.

“It is quite different from the DELWP role in that I was a basic crew member, whereas with this it was something to that I could grow into and expand on,” says Tiff.

Tiff was recognised for her prior learning with chainsaw operation and four-wheel driving, but signed up right way for crew member training, so that she could start responding to calls for help. “It took me about two months to get signed off and to get my head around the logistics of the job.”

VICSES Erica Unit’s response boundary spans a wide area,  touching on VICSES Moe, Morwell, and Warragul Units, all of which work in a dual response arrangement with the unit.

Under Tiff’s leadership, the VICSES Erica Unit volunteer crew has grown from five to eight active members, trained to manage storm damage, fallen trees, and respond to flood events, especially at Stringer's Creek, which run through the flood plain at Walhalla.

"I’ve always lived in Erica, so it’s my way of giving back to a community that I love,” says Tiff. “Erica is a typical small town where everyone knows everyone.”

“I’m most proud of just giving it a crack in the first place,” says Tiff. “There is a lot more that I want to achieve, but I’m proud that I put myself forward and gave it a go.”

VICSES Erica Unit respond to an average of 55 requests for assistance a year, and is recruiting new members. If you would like to learn more about joining Tiff and becoming a VICSES volunteer, visit ses.vic.gov.au/join-us.

To read other volunteer profiles for International Women's Day, click here.