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All about the SES

Learn more about VICSES including becoming a volunteer, and how you can get involved in thanking SES volunteers on 22 May for ‘Wear Orange Wednesday’.

Three SES volunteers


Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) is a volunteer-based emergency service organisation that serves the community 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

The Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES)External Link is the control agency for flood, storm, landslide, earthquake, and tsunami throughout Victoria, and provides the largest road crash rescue network in Australia.

VICSES operates from 150 volunteer units and 15 permanently staffed offices across Victoria, comprising of over 5,000 volunteers and staff.

VICSES is a key leader in emergency management. In the last financial year (2022/23), VICSES volunteers responded to over 32,000 requests for assistance, including the devastating Victorian floods in 2022.

Volunteering with VICSES

Volunteers are the backbone of VICSES and come from all walks of life.

Each volunteer receives accredited, recognised training as part of their role, ranging from first aid, general rescue, chainsaw operations, community education, media training, and much more.

You will find VICSES volunteers assisting their local communities throughout Victoria in rural, regional, and metropolitan locations; on the front lines, in emergency planning and strategy centres, and providing education to help community members understand what to do when an emergency strikes.

Phil’s story

SES volunteer, Phil

Phil started volunteering with his local SES after a chance meeting. What started off as helping out for six weeks has become 21 years of supporting the local community as part of the “orange family”.

Phil had organised a local traders festival in Chelsea, where he met the local SES Unit Controller. Chelsea SES was keen to boost its profile in the community, and after the success of the event, invited Phil to volunteer to help spread the word.

Phil was busy with life and work, but offered to help for six weeks to see what he could do. Phil got to work right away, connecting with Melbourne Storm to arrange a photo shoot and publicity – and they made the front page of the paper!

Phil has now volunteered with Chelsea SES branch for 21 years and is proud of how the unit has grown over this time to increase support for the community.

Phil volunteers his skills to manage the Chelsea SES Facebook page, which has grown as a channel to reach and inform the community. Over the past three years, the Facebook page has been seen over 3 million times. After lots of hard work, Chelsea SES received funding for a new facility that opened in 2023.

More than anything, Phil treasures the sense of community and family at Chelsea SES.

“The thing I enjoy more than anything is the comradery of the orange family. It is all about being with a group of like-minded people who are by nature, givers. As volunteers, the difference is, we don’t do what we do because we have to, we do what we do because we want to.”

Chelsea SES has around 50 volunteers from all walks of life, from junior members who start at 15 through to older volunteers and bring a range of experiences. There are also many parents and children who volunteer together, like Phil and his daughter Kimba.

“Kimba is one of the first people ever to become a full member of an SES unit, who has Down Syndrome. At Chelsea SES, she is seen for her abilities and not her disabilities, she is simply another member of that orange family.”

Phil’s advice for anyone considering joining their local SES branch is clear – just go for it!

“Without a doubt, I would recommend to anyone to go and join your local orange family. You will meet some fantastic people, learn new skills, and have a great time along the way.”

Learn more about becoming a volunteer with VICSES on the VICSES websiteExternal Link .

When to call VICSES

Do you need assistance during a flood or storm emergency? Call VICSES on 132 500. Remember: If life-threatening always call Triple Zero (000).

During a flood or storm, call VICSES if:

  • A tree has fallen and caused structural damage to your home or vehicle.
  • There is damage to your roof, or it is leaking significantly.
  • A tree or large branch has fallen and is preventing you from entering or leaving your home.
  • Your property is flooded or about to flood.

Your request for assistance will be logged by a 24/7 call centre and will be responded to as soon as possible by a volunteer crew. You can view more information on the VICSES websiteExternal Link .

For minor leaks, superficial damage, repair of damage, removal of debris and cutting down of trees that are still standing, please contact a professional tradesperson.

Contact your insurer to make a claim or arrange permanent repairs.

Wear Orange Wednesday: 22 May 2024

Wear Orange Wednesday (WOW Day) is a national day of recognition to say ‘thank you’ to SES volunteers across Australia.

Community members are encouraged to get involved by wearing orange, making a donation to your local SES unit, sharing a message of thanks on social media, hosting an orange-themed event, and more.

SES volunteers give so much back to their communities, and WOW Day is a great opportunity to show you appreciation. To find out more, visit the Wear Orange Wednesday webpageExternal Link on the VICSES website.

Reviewed 19 May 2024