Mum finds new confidence as VICSES crew leader

Mum finds new confidence as VICSES crew leader

10/03/2023, 12:00 PM

Kylie on deployment to Maitland in New South Wales, 2022

Kylie Warren is a Unit Officer at VICSES Camperdown, where she has volunteered for four years. “When you join the SES you bring with you your skills from outside and, like in any workplace, you lean into your strengths.”

"Yes, I’m a mum. I’m an employee, and - in a totally different context - I’m a volunteer who can pull somebody out of a car.”

Kylie knew she wanted to volunteer and, after checking out her options around Camperdown, she chose VICSES. “I joined to help administer the unit, but from there I did my fundamentals (crew training), so I could jump on the truck,” says Kylie.

Once Kylie had competed her basic crew training, she took further courses in general rescue, road crash rescue, chainsaw operation, and the Safe Working At Heights System (SWAHS); all free training offered by VICSES. “I’ve been a crew leader, for two years now, through several declared operations,” says Kylie.

“I would encourage other women to join because you can build on skills you didn’t know you had,” Kylie says. “I was very shy; I wouldn’t go out of my way to speak to people. When they put me through the media training, I went on to do live radio during operational events .”

“I even went on deployment to New South Wales, and found myself in places and situations I would never have envisaged.”

Kylie says her training and development with VICSES has given her the self-confidence to build relationships with her crew, and the general public. “I found it developing my self-worth and confidence, and encourage others to do the same,” Kylie says.

There are five female members of the VICSES Camperdown Unit, making up around a quarter of the crew, with about 20 active volunteers overall. “We’ve got good capacity (to respond to requests for assistance),” says Kylie, “but there’s room for enthusiastic people who want to go on that journey.”

“We have a very relaxed crew down here, we each let each know what our availability is like,” says Kylie, “and you get to know the other emergency responders in the area.”

“There is a whole community, a whole infrastructure of people you wouldn’t necessarily have known were there.”

Originally from Camperdown, Kylie says the experience has helped her to understand more about what’s going on in the area. “In terms of my situational awareness. I know if there is a road being closed, or if it’s had anything to do with us I will know why,” says Kylie.

“I can advise people - using our unit’s Facebook page - about hazards they might encounter. If something is happening, people will stop me and ask me what’s going on. It’s a small town and people know. If we take the truck out for a spin, the kids wave, and the people want to acknowledge you,” Kylie says. “It’s a great atmosphere.”

Kylie says that interest in joining the unit peaked after COVID-19 restrictions. “People wanted to come out of isolation and get out into the community,” says Kylie, “particularly out in the regional rural areas.”

“I have one 15 year-old boy, but we don’t have juniors currently. He has expressed an interest in cutting up cars,” laughs Kylie, “but we’ll see …”.

If you would like to learn more about joining Kylie, and becoming a VICSES volunteer, visit:

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

Kylie at VICSES Camperdown Unit, 2022