Executive, staff & volunteers

A team with heart & drive


Our highly skilled, service-driven, engaged workforce is committed to developing and promoting volunteering at a local and state level. We employ the power of partnerships and collaboration to lead and serve the volunteering movement. We are able to do this vital work because of the generosity and giving spirit of Queensland’s volunteers. We work together across these core areas:



“We engaged 62 extraordinary, skilled volunteers who over the last financial year generously contributed 6,199 hours of valuable work in all areas of our business supporting Volunteering Queensland to achieve its vision and mission and deliver quality services. A contribution conservatively valued at $216,283. Thank you to all our wonderful volunteers - we are able to achieve the valuable work we do because of you.”

Executive management team

Chief Executive Officer

Mara Basanovic

Mara has worked in the volunteering and community sectors for more than 25 years.

During this time she has led state-wide organisations and talented teams, developing and implementing successful innovations, programs and strategic alignments that have brought benefits to the volunteer sector and the broader community at the local, regional, state and national level.  

As Chief Executive Officer of Volunteering WA for eight years, Mara lead the development and continual expansion of the new GoVolunteer and VIKTOR Online as the national digital platforms for volunteer referral and management; the expansion of corporate volunteer engagement and the introduction of Australia’s first Corporate Volunteer Council which led to the launch of the Give1 initiative – a celebration of corporate giving; the development of a system to recruit and manage spontaneous volunteers and manage material and in kind donations at times of emergency and disaster; introduction of the Western Australian Volunteer of the Year Awards; the annual award winning Homeless Connect Perth; an annual research agenda; establishment of dedicated volunteering hubs on university campuses and development of new programs, models of service delivery and resources to overcome barriers and promote inclusive and rewarding volunteering experiences.  

As well as her extensive knowledge of and expertise in volunteerism, Mara has a wealth of experience and knowledge and strong links with the cultural, educational, youth and multicultural sectors.

Throughout her career Mara has been responsible for the implementation of many innovative educational, community, youth and cultural development projects and programs, including – a multi-arts approach to education; an award winning Circus Arts in Education accredited program; the Living in Harmony initiative, which was the subject of a UN Media Peace Award; Stage One Children’s Festival, the forerunner of the Awesome Children’s Festival; redefining the Australia Day Oz Concert and the Western Australian Citizen of the Year Awards to be premiere events celebrating the diverse community of Western Australia; coordinating the CHOGM 2011 Volunteer Program; and many other cultural and community development initiatives.  

Mara was Australia’s Country Representative Body delegate to the United Nations Volunteers; Australia’s National Volunteer Centre representative at the International Association for Volunteer Effort; and Western Australia’s representative on the Policy and Strategy Committee of Volunteering Australia. She has been an active member of various multicultural and emergency service advisory and social policy committees.  

With a long family tradition of volunteering, Mara appreciates and promotes the reciprocal benefits volunteering can bring. “My philosophy is simply to do all that I can to make our community the best it can be for all people. We all have something to contribute and share and we are all in need of a helping hand at some time”.

She believes volunteering provides opportunities to strengthen community connectedness and participation in civil society. “It fosters a sense of belonging and purpose and enables citizens to give of their best and appreciate their own and others’ potential”.

Mara is an active volunteer, currently serving as a member of the Order of St John and with multicultural and faith-based committees and organisations.

“To bring together through the vehicle of volunteering the energy, capabilities and positivity of people who want to create a better world by giving something back is both inspiring and a privilege”

Sector Development Senior Manager

Michelle Stafford

Michelle has come to Volunteering Queensland from a wide-ranging career spanning the community, youth, hospitality, sport and recreation and training industries. The roles held in these industries are just as diverse and contribute to the fabric of knowledge she brings to her training sessions and engagement with the many volunteer-involving organisations she has worked with.

At Volunteering Queensland Michelle manages the Registered Training Organisation (RTO) as well as supporting the delivery of workshops and consultancies to volunteer-involving organisations. Her involvement in Volunteer Services delivery rounds out her experience and breadth of knowledge of volunteering. Michelle treasures the learning and knowledge she gets each and every time she works with a volunteer-involving organisation and knows that sharing her knowledge is only half of the benefits of training as she develops a stronger, richer view of the sector she represents.

Michelle has been a volunteer throughout her life and continues to take up opportunities to give back but admits she is a serial episodic volunteer and doesn’t stick with one organisation for the long term like she used to do but chooses to try out lots of different experiences.

Projects Senior Manager

Amanda Nixon

Amanda has over 20 years' experience working with government, non-government and community undertaking a variety of roles with a strong community and client focus. 10 of these years have been dedicated to developing community resilience and human and social recovery in communities following disaster events. 

Amanda has a rich background in managing projects with proven track record in successfully implementing emerging programs and concepts with a overall focus of supporting community and improving practice. Additionally, she has valuable experience and insight into the development of volunteer management frameworks and believes passionately in the strength that volunteers bring to the community.

She has utilised volunteering across the span of her adult life in community and government initiatives and events. This experience has reaffirmed for Amanda the important role volunteering plays in keeping people connected to their community, gaining new skills and increasing a sense of purpose through helping others.

She holds the Diploma of Project Management and Cert IV in Coordination of Volunteer Programs.

Marketing & Communications Senior Manager

Vanessa Codling

Vanessa has worked in the volunteering and community sector for nearly 10 years.

During this time she has been involved in promoting volunteering and the outstanding work of volunteer-involving organisations that effectively engage volunteers to achieve their missions and advance their causes.

Vanessa is involved in marketing strategy and tactics for promoting the numerous services and programs that Volunteering Queensland provides. She manages a small team of volunteers to run major events and campaigns, oversee branding and communications, handle media enquiries, and update websites and social media.

Events include the State Volunteering Conference which brings industry together to share best practices, ideas and solutions to better navigation the complexities of contemporary volunteering, National Volunteer Week and the Queensland Volunteering Awards which recognise the passion and commitment of inspiring volunteers, National Student Volunteer Week which connects enthusiastic students with opportunities to provide new ideas and ways of working to build capacity within nonprofits, International Volunteer Managers Day which acknowledges the professionalism of those who lead volunteers and the UN’s International Volunteer Day a world-wide celebration of the impact volunteering has on progressing society.

Vanessa has a Graduate Certificate (Integrated Marketing Communication) from QUT.