12/05/2024 08:31 AM

Our mums are important to us every day of the year, but especially on Mother’s Day.  The NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) want to wish a happy Mother’s Day to all the mums who volunteer their time to assist their communities during floods and storms.

One such amazing mum is Karina Tait, who has volunteered with the NSW SES Lismore Unit for more than 10 years.

Karina is the loving mother of three-year-old Adelaide (Addie). While Karina dedicates her time to volunteering with the NSW SES, she also has a career in customer service and also her most precious job, raising Addie.  

“Balancing my volunteering passion and motherhood has definitely been a challenge. My daughter is now old enough to know that 'mummy is going to SES work'. I love she gets to see me heading out to help our community while also knowing she is safe with people who love her,” Karina said.

Since having a child, Karina is still actively involved with SES operations, even though she may not do as many hours as she once liked to with the Service.

“As I chose to have Addie as a single mother, my availability to respond to SES incidents has obviously changed a lot. I'm not able to drop everything and race out the door like I once could,” she said.

“I still make it to training almost every week and I have amazing support from friends and family so I can still respond to storm incidents and severe weather events.”

During her time with the NSW SES, Karina responded to one of Australia’s worst natural disasters, the flooding of the Northern Rivers in 2022.

 “Addie was only eight months old when we experienced the devastating floods which impacted my hometown of Lismore. My mum was looking after Addie at my house as the school where mum worked had flooded,” Karina said.

“I was outside door knocking affected residents, the following day I was rescuing people from the roofs of their houses. This was the biggest event any of us had ever seen and I remember, vividly, thinking that I had a precious little person at home who needed me. That was a sobering thought. Never had I really been afraid for my own safety before. Knowing that I needed to help as much as I could, but also that my daughter needed me home safe, was not an easy thing to process.

“Only the top of the palm trees was still showing above the water while we were on boats driving up the main highway. It's the most afraid I have ever been.”

The Northern Rivers flood affected many people in different ways. There were lives lost, properties and infrastructure destroyed and communities grieving and still recovering now.

“So many people were impacted, either directly or indirectly. My sister lost her business in the CBD and power to her house for almost a week. The school that my mum worked at was one of the first to go under and is still at a temporary site. After more than two years, we're all still rebuilding in different ways and dealing with what we saw, heard and did,” Karina said.

While Karina’s time with the NSW SES has been full of highs and some terribly difficult times such as the floods, she wouldn’t have it any other way volunteering for the NSW SES as a mother.

“The best advice I could give to other mums who are thinking of joining the NSW SES is to absolutely go for it. There are many roles and they are all so very important. If you want to be out in the field, bush bashing on a land search, or back at the local headquarters doing communications or incident management, there is something for everyone,” she said.

“I've met my best friends since volunteering with the NSW SES and these people have become family.”

Do you see yourself in orange? Find out more on how you can become an NSW SES volunteer here.

Media enquiries: media@ses.nsw.gov.au or call 1800 067 234.

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