Lisa finds her place in SES

Lisa May found her true self again with Moe SES. photograph anne simmons

Lisa May found her true self again with Moe SES. photograph anne simmons

Victoria State Emergency Service Moe unit deputy controller for training Lisa May was climbing up a ladder in an internal training course, strapped in a harness and connected to anchor points, carrying with her a "ridiculous" fear of heights.

She froze momentarily and heard the people below her sending words of encouragement before finding the roof.

"It was almost like, I suppose, a slab of concrete had lifted off my shoulders," Ms May said.

Since joining the emergency response organisation four years ago, conquering a fear of heights has just been one achievement in her personal development.

She is now encouraging other women to follow suit and zip up the orange.

"When I was first joined I was quiet as a mouse ... my confidence was at an all-time low," Ms May said.

"For the first time in my whole life things in my personal life had kind of broken down and ... I pretty much hit rock bottom."

She joined the organisation as an ordinary member looking for something "a little out of the box" after volunteering mainly in administration roles.

Her first job was a taskforce to Hastings where a storm had ripped through the neighbourhood and the call-out was sent state-wide.

"I came home and obviously I was exhausted, it was a very long day ... but something in my head just clicked; 'this is it, this is what I'm going to be'," she said.

Countless training courses later, she could drive a truck and do things she never thought would be "on the cards" such as using a chainsaw.

While initially her perception of SES was "it's a man's world", her skillset slowly told her otherwise.

And so did the internal dynamic.

"Us girls can literally do anything [the men do] here and there's, you know, nothing but support from them," Ms May said.

She said the Moe unit had 33 per cent female membership and half of the management team were women.

The unit will soon host a barbecue named Chick's Rockin' Orange encouraging women to learn about what the organisation does and consider what it has offered the existing female members, such as Ms May.

She said her involvement gave her new skills, new friends and even built her back to who she "actually was".

"It's also being able to help the community as well, so you come back from something and you know you've done something good. You know you've done a good deed and that will last forever."

The barbecue will be on Sunday, June 24 at 12pm at the Moe unit at 265 Monash Road, Newborough. For more information, email

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