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During National Volunteer Week, 20-26 May, the 2019 Queensland Volunteering Awards were held to honour the inspiring endeavours of hundreds of volunteers, volunteer managers, volunteer-involving organisations and businesses that invest in employee volunteering programs, to bring about positive change in our community.
The awards presentation was held on Friday 24 May in the Ithaca Auditorium of Brisbane City Hall.
The awards were presented across six key categories:
- Volunteer of the Year Award
- Youth Volunteering Award
- Lifetime Contribution to Volunteering Award
- Excellence in Volunteer Management Award
- Volunteering Impact Award (proudly sponsored by Powerlink Queensland)
- Corporate Volunteering Award
During the ceremony, the finalists were called up on stage according to award categories, and each finalist recognised for their hard work and contribution in volunteering. The recipient of the award was then announced, and it was followed by the recipient giving a speech.
Thank you to the dignitaries who attended and honoured the nominees, finalists and recipients:
- Clare O'Connor, Director General, Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors representing the Hon Coralee O'Rourke MP, Minister for Communities and Minister for Disability Services and Seniors
- Cr Vicki Howard, Councillor for Central Ward, representing the Lord Mayor of Brisbane Adrian Schrinner
- Mr Lachlan Millar MP, Shadow Minister for Fire, Emergency Services and Volunteers
- Cheryl Vardon, Chief Executive and Principal Commissioner, Queensland Family and Child Commission
The Queensland Government is the major sponsor of National Volunteer Week.
Lifetime Contribution to Volunteering Award
Recipient: Judith James
Judith James has worked tirelessly as a dedicated Multiple Sclerosis Disability Advocate for people living with MS in the Toowoomba and surrounding regions for nearly 30 years. She established the Toowoomba MS Support Service and is one of MS Queensland's longest serving and outstanding volunteers. Her extensive lobbying has resulted in more disabled access parking and toilets, accessibility ramps and footpaths and securing ambulance transport from Toowoomba to Brisbane for medical needs. She is dedicated to achieve an equitable society for people with disability living in regional Queensland.
As a life member of Multiple Sclerosis Queensland, Judith continues her relentless work. Judith has dedicated herself to be a strong advocate for people with disabilities – including Multiple Sclerosis – both in the Toowoomba area but also nationally and overseas. Judith has a length and diversity of involvement. She wears many hats and is creative and innovative when delivering real social change. Judith is a shining example of resilience, dedication and determination.
Judith was unable to attend as she is currently unwell from an episode of MS, with Marget Elson from MS Queensland accepting the award on Judith's behalf.
There were two finalists for the Lifetime Contribution to Volunteering Award:
For the past 66 years, Barry Ransom has given his time and efforts volunteering for 8 organisations all around Australia and the world. Barry has been volunteering for PCYC Gold Coast for the past 6 years as a committee member and branch support. He also has been volunteering at the Gold Coast airport for the last 18 months providing information and advice to tourists.
He has been a regular volunteer with Robina Hospital, Diabetes Queensland, Miami BMX Club, Life Member of BMX South QLD, and numerous sporting events such as the Masters Games. He began his volunteering journey at the St Kilda Surf Life Saving Club.
Mary Otto has been volunteering in the Deception Bay community since 1972. In that time she established the Girl Guides Deception Bay Group, has been a member of the Community Council, a committee member of the Police-Citizens Youth Club and is an Award Leader for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.
She is a PCYC life member and has receive the 30 years’ service award for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. She is also an active member on local committees including the Deception Bay Conservation Park, Moreton Bay Arts Council and the Caboolture Heritage Park.
Youth Volunteering Award
Recipient: Madison Birtchnell
Madison Birtchnell’s resume is impressive including volunteering with Amnesty International, Red Cross, Share the Dignity, RSPCA, Headspace and refugee advocates.
Madison mentors younger and marginalised students in a range of roles at QUT such as a College of Excellence Fellow, Student Leadership Conference coach and Kickstart Facilitator. She also has roles with the YWCA National Sub-Committee, Enactus Social Entrepreneurship Society and the Women in Business Society.
She is a truly inspiring and exceptional volunteer and outstanding role model, mentor and young woman. Madison exemplifies leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship. She's the driving force behind a range of unique events and causes, raising funds, donating goods and giving freely of her time. She is now endeavoring to take her passions to the global stage through the Women Deliver Young Leader Program representing Australia in Canada on issues of gender equality, mental health, social justice and youth empowerment.
There were two finalists for the Youth Volunteering Award:
Jack has a long history volunteering for agricultural shows; exhibiting poultry, cattle and harness horses and many other areas of the Pittsworth Show. He started stewarding for the poultry section when he was just 13, taking over as chief steward at 15.
Jack is now the youngest President of the Pittsworth Show Society and has attracted a massive increase in interest in their events. Jack has engaged the youth of Pittsworth, developed community involvement and secured a future for the Show.
Inari Saltau is a passionate advocate who has volunteered to support organisations including Australian Red Cross, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, University of Queensland Union, and as UN Youth Ambassador.
They have led the One Woman Project Conference Team to deliver the Brisbane Feminist Festival which has been described as the most innovative and the largest in Australia.
Corporate Volunteering Award
Recipient: Shell Australia
Shell Australia is a global energy group who’s staff are provided with 2 paid volunteering days per year. Shell’s approach to volunteering provides a large number of team-based volunteering opportunities selected by their staff. Locally, Shell has supported 14 different organisations including Ronald McDonald House, the Youth Housing Project, Multicap, Salvation Army, QLD Aids Council, Homeless Connect, Rural Aid and Foodbank. 1,773 hours of volunteering support have been contributed.
In the last year, Shell Australia grew it’s volunteering program with a massive 220% increase in Queensland with its approach to provide a large number of team-based opportunities. They believe that together with significant community benefits, team building within corporate volunteering is a successful way to build engagement and trust. Shell has shown to be committed to giving back to the community and allows its employees to define volunteer programs that are close to their hearts, which has strengthened leadership within.
There were two finalists for the Corporate Volunteering Award:
Shadforth Financial Group
Shadforth Financial Group, part of IOOF, is partnered with nonprofit organisation Ardoch. 115 Shadforth staff have volunteered in highly disadvantaged schools within Ardoch’s Literacy Buddies Program. Volunteers AKA Big Buddies, are matched with students to improve literacy and inspire their learning through the art of letter writing.
Shadforth Big Buddies have established close mentor relationships with their little buddies resulting in students increased awareness of career and lifestyle options that are opened with improved literacy and academic results.
Cisco is a world leader in IT and networking. 50 Cisco staff have participated in the World’s Biggest Garage Sale, an event that repurposes dormant goods to divert landfill and draw wealth from waste to invest back into the local community. They helped with goods at the warehouse and during the event itself.
Cisco also provided networking hardware, telecommunications equipment, security cameras and data analytics. Cisco staff have volunteered to mentor the World’s Biggest Garage Sale team and their student volunteers.
Excellence in Volunteer Management Award
Recipient: Zachary Reimers
Zachary Reimers is an exceptionally personable and conscientious volunteer manager who is well-regarded by all. Just some of the high-profile events Zac has managed include the Woodford Folk Festival, World Science Festival, Brisbane Festival, Jungle Love Music and Arts Festival and Brisbane Street Art Festival. He was also the Volunteer Manager for the 2018 Cultural Festival for the Commonwealth Games. He demonstrates good practice, excellent duty of care with a personalised approach, leading teams from 200 to 2,500 volunteers. Zac regularly provides training and advice for volunteer coordinators of national and international festivals.
Many say he is incredibly kind and puts a lot of effort into ensuring every volunteer gets the most out of their experience. Professional, well-organised and above all a great communicator is what Zac is widely known for and respected. He is a great ambassador for volunteerism and every festival he goes to sees volunteer applications and positive experiences soar.
Feedback from Zachary’s work as a volunteer manager has been nothing but outstanding.
There were two finalists for the Excellence in Volunteer Management Award:
Patrick Casey has been the volunteer co-ordinator for the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 2016. Upon taking on the role, Pat used his creativity and skill to create a Volunteer Management Program to collate formal records centrally in addition to developing risk assessments for each role. Pat established best practices in managing volunteers. He is actively involved in recruiting new volunteers and providing them with all the support they require, delivering privacy, workplace safety and well-being training, recognition and continuous improvement.
He oversees 2,000 volunteers who work across the areas of aged care, disability care, child care, relationship care, and pastoral care.
Susan Solakovic has been a volunteer manager with Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association for the past 5 years. Her catch phrase is “meaningful volunteering experience” which is demonstrated by her planning and thoughtfulness in providing volunteers with the most positive environment to support them perform their roles and develop their confidence and skills.
In her role she ensures an atmosphere of inclusion exists at all times. She recognises the efforts of individuals and teams and makes sure training and support is available for everyone. Volunteers say they feel informed, included and appreciated.
Volunteering Impact Award
Recipient: Court Network - Victim Support Unit
Court Network is a frontline community organisation that supports people’s access to the court system. Their Victim Support Unit is committed to supporting adult victims of violent crime, witnesses to violent crime, families and support persons to navigate their way through the court process. Based in Brisbane and Ipswich, the Victim Support Unit provides a cross jurisdictional response. The services are provided by a team of professionally trained and supported volunteers.
Their service philosophy is based firmly in the belief that anyone who comes to court is entitled to dignity, respect and to have the court processes explained to them. Volunteers often engage with people who have experienced distressing circumstances and are in need of a kind, supportive person for the duration of the court process, which can be years. Court Network volunteers express a sense of personal fulfilment in providing support to victims of crime. Many have made long-lasting connections with other volunteers and have expressed how this type of volunteering opportunity has challenged them through training and direct client work in providing new perspectives of the world.
There were two finalists for the Volunteering Impact Award:
PCYC's Braking the Cycle
PCYC's Braking the Cycle is a volunteer driver mentor program designed to support learner drivers without access to a supervisor or registered vehicle to complete their logbook hours. The program provides young people with increased employment opportunities, community connection and driver education. Since its inception in 2012, Braking the Cycle has engaged over 700 volunteer driving mentors to deliver 72,000 supervised driving hours. The program now operates in 44 locations across the state.
Volunteer Refugee Tutoring and Community Support (VoRTCS)
The Volunteer Refugee Tutoring and Community Support (VoRTCS) Program is a special works of St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland and provides in-home tutoring support to many refugee families in Brisbane so they can take up opportunities existing in the community. Each week, volunteers visit families from refugee backgrounds to provide much needed support and enhance English skills.
Since 2004, VoRTCS has worked intensively with over 1,000 Brisbane families; paring each of them with volunteers who visit the family’s home helping them settle into their new community.
Volunteer of the Year Award
Recipient: Lyn French
Lyn French's biggest passion is helping others. She has always cared for the environment in and around the station she calls home in North West Queensland. Her volunteering is very impressive and includes positions such as volunteer firefighter, The Royal Flying Doctor Service, Bureau of Meteorology, Drought Aid, Angel Flights and Northern Gulf Resources. Lyn worked for 29 years administering VISE (Volunteers for Isolated Student Education) before setting up a new organisation Aussie Helpers Volunteers for Isolated Student Education.
Lyn continues to inspire everyone around her as she builds the viability of organisations that support education for remote children. Her real-life experiences living with her family in a remote area has allowed her to advocate strongly to gain support from education agencies to provide this vital support. This award highlights her tireless work in her community and the many organisations she has volunteered for and the impact she has made in remote Queensland.
There were two finalists for the Volunteer of the Year Award:
Helen is a humanitarian, emergency nurse and paramedic who has volunteered in disaster areas across the globe; caring for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. She has volunteered in Iraq at Internally Displaced People camps, in Nepal after the 2015 earthquake and the Philippines following Typhoon Hyan in 2013. Her volunteering derives from growing up in the close-knit Greek Community where a sense of helping others is the norm. She previously volunteered for St Johns Ambulance while working full time at a local hospital. Helen has a demonstrated a long-term commitment and impact for the Queensland, Australian and global community. Her dedication, enthusiasm and perseverance has served as a positive influence to many.
Helen was unable to attend the ceremony as she is involved with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. She was represented by Daniel Prentice.
Maureen has been a volunteer with Protect All Children Today (PACT) since 2003 and during this time has supported over 500 children, young people and their families through the court process. In 2014 she was elected volunteer Team Leader due to her exemplary leadership skills. Maureen possesses empathy and a passion for supporting children and their families.
She has extensive knowledge of the Queensland Criminal Justice system including court hierarchy and court etiquette which has proved invaluable. In her volunteer role Maureen has shown to be impartial, non-judgmental, patient and flexible.
Congratulations again to all of our recipients, finalists and nominees. We received an incredible amount of amazing volunteering stories and experiences from all over the state. It was lovely to meet and celebrate with so many changemakers at the awards ceremony.