During National Volunteer Week, 21-27 May, the 2018 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 25 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
  • 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 winner giving a speech. To view photos from the event please visit our Facebook gallery here.

Thank you to the dignitaries who attended and honoured the nominees, finalists and recipients:

  • Our patron – Governor of Queensland, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC
  • Kim Richards MP, Member for Redlands, acting as a representative on behalf of the Hon. Coralee O’Rourke MP, Minister for Communities and Minister for Disability Services and Seniors
  • Dr Christian Rowan MP, Shadow Minister for Communities, Disability Services and Seniors
  • Cr Steven Toomey, Councillor for The Gap, representing the Lord Mayor

The Queensland Volunteering Awards are proudly supported by the Queensland Government

Queensland Lifetime Contribution to Volunteering Award

Recipient – Lorraine Buhk

Lorraine Buhk. The 2018 Queensland Lifetime Contribution to Volunteering Award recipient.

Lorraine has dedicated 65 years of service to the Alexandra Surf Lifesaving Club and at the age of 80 has continued to play an active role at the club at a regional, branch, state and national level since 1953. She has been a driving force at the club and a tireless and devoted volunteer at all levels from fundraising, activities coordinator, administrator to officiating at state competitions and also preserving the history of the club for future generations.
In recognition for her self-less dedication and exemplary service to volunteering, Lorraine was the first female to be awarded an honorary life membership with the club and her devotion also saw her awarded with the Order of Australia Medal and inducted as a Legend of Sunshine Coast Sport in 2016. Lorraine is an inspiration to her club, her community and her peers. This humble, charitable lady is held in the highest esteem and respect by all club members, young and old.
The selection panel were highly impressed by Lorraine’s constant, loyal and unwavering service which is a testament to her resilience, passion, and support to her club, community and state which has continued to make a positive and lasting impact.

Finalist – Terrence Chapman

A teacher by profession, Terry began volunteering with the Logan City State Emergency Service since its conception back in 1975. Now after 43 years of tireless service to the SES, Terry has trained and mentored thousands of new volunteers, carried out numerous activations to search for missing persons and has climbed upon countless roofs to make emergency repairs.+

A natural leader, Terry has been deployed all over the state to assist communities that have been devastated by natural disasters, leading operations on the ground to bring disaster relief however always keeping mindful to be respectful and compassionate to the people he is assisting.
In 2014 Terry was one of two SES members state wide to be awarded a Forty Year Clasp for his SES Meritorious Service medal. Volunteering is an integral part of Terry’s life and at the age of 69 he is still the first volunteer to take the lead during searches and to keep the community spirit alive within Logan.
The selection panel were extremely impressed by the sheer number of SES activations, rescues and deployments performed by Terry throughout his volunteer career which is a testimony to his tenacity, empathy and belief in the importance and value of human life.

Finalist – Noela O’Neil

As one of the first ever volunteers for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, Noela has been with the foundation for 26 years, making her the longest serving volunteer. Noela is committed to providing once-in-a-lifetime dreams come true for seriously ill children.
In 2003 Noela began volunteering in the Starlight Express Room which are medical-free havens for sick children and their families. Her kindness and sense of fun transformed the hospital experience for countless of children and their families. Due to health concerns in 2008, Noela could no longer work in a hospital environment; so she simply transferred her energy and enthusiasm for volunteering from the hospital to the head office. At the age of 79, Noela continues to volunteer every week fitting it around her busy life of being a parent, grandparent and great-grandparent.
The selection panel highlighted Noela’s continued focus and her level of commitment and compassion to seriously ill children, as she has given so many families an unforgettable experience which ultimately has proven to be a positive impact on the child’s well-being. Her lifelong commitment to the Starlight Foundation is admirable and Noela truly personifies the exemplary qualities of a volunteer.

Queensland Youth Volunteer of the Year Award

Recipient – Emily Ireland

Emily getting hands on at the Royal Thai Navy's Sea Turtle Nursery. A conservation centre for the care and rehabilitation of local Sea Turtles.

Emily is an exceptional young woman who began her passion for volunteering at the age of 11 when she was Treasurer for her Primary School Student Council. Since that time, Emily has been determined to continue her commitment to volunteering, planning and organising countless fundraising and community events, with the funds raised given to different charities including health research, environmental sustainability, support of war veterans, disadvantaged members of the community and those at risk of homelessness.

In recognition for her outstanding efforts in raising much needed funds and awareness for multiple charities, Emily was awarded the Premiers Anzac Prize and the RSL Youth Development Prize.

Displaying a level of maturity beyond her teenage years, the selection panel were very impressed by Emily’s numerous involvement with so many charities and organisations she volunteers for, as well as her leadership abilities. Emily’s energy is limitless, her dedication extraordinary, her enthusiasm boundless and at the age of 18 she is an inspiration to all volunteers.

Finalist – Madison Birtchnell

Madison is a passionate advocate for positive mental health among young people and social justice issues; strongly believing in fighting injustices and ensuring inclusiveness and dignity for all.

For the past 10 years, Madison has volunteered for numerous charities some of which include Ormiston House, Daughters of Promise, Amnesty International and Fishers of Men, as well as fundraising for Red Cross flood victims, and World Vision. Madison has also organised, presented and hosted the inaugural Super Women Conference, as part of International Women’s Week celebrations. Her greatest passion is providing resources and raising awareness around mental health issues amongst young people.

Madison was selected this year as a Youth Parliament Ambassador in recognition for her work within her community and as part of the Member of Albert Youth Parliament Program.
The selection panel were inspired with her dedication and commitment to helping her community, empowering and mentoring other students and the fact that – despite her age – her volunteer work is creating a lasting impact for women and youth in her community.

Finalist – Brittany Lea-Hewson

For the past 4 years, Brittany has made an incredible difference to her local community within the Caloundra area, volunteering in the Rural Fire Service.

As a volunteer, Brittany has made a significant impact particularly in the delivery of training to her fellow volunteers and community education to the members of the public. An exemplary role model, Brittany has worked tirelessly to encourage and motivate other volunteer’s participation in all aspects of the brigade. She also actively participates in community events to ensure members of the public are educated and well informed on bushfire prevention and property preparedness.

Brittany has also taken on lead roles during active fire incidents in 2017 which is a testament to her courage and commitment for someone of such a young age.

The selection panel highlighted Brittany’s outstanding dedication and positive influence to her fellow volunteers and the Rural Fire Service. She is a credit to the community and to the future of volunteering.

Queensland Corporate Volunteering Award

Recipient – Clayton Utz Queensland

Clayton Utz Queensland offers an exemplary employee volunteering program providing employees the opportunity to participate in numerous activities and charity events throughout the year. In particular the organisation has partnered with Murarrie State School since 2012 on The Literacy Buddies program. Volunteers are partnered with a student and they exchange handwritten letters throughout the school year, allowing the students to write to a working mentor and discuss literacy, school and their home life.

Another employee volunteering program available is The Ardoch Legal Studies Buddy Program for Year 11 and 12 students at Loganlea State High School who are studying Legal Studies. A Clayton Utz volunteer in partnered with a student to exchange emails and assist and mentor the student on the road to learning the law.

Clayton Utz have demonstrated support and flexibility to the learning requirements and needs of children from disadvantaged regions of our community. They also understand the importance of the employee volunteering program as employees will benefit from learning new skills, develop leadership qualities and have a sense of achievement and satisfaction of contributing to a worthy cause.

Finalist – Golder and Associates

Golder and Associates aims to raise awareness and sustainability for our environment through its partnership with the Cubberla Witton Catchments Network. Since 2010 they have been instrumental in the rehabilitation of a significant length of the Cubberla Creek.

The Golder and Associates volunteers are dedicated in the rehabilitation of the native bushland and organises its staff to come to Working Bees at least once a year where sites are cleared of weeds and replanted with native plant species. The company also encourage the involvement of the family orientation, where children learn about the environment and the importance of maintaining our habitat, green spaces and waterways. Areas rehabilitated now provide significant habitat for wildlife and the waterways are better shaded and protected.

The importance of our environment cannot be underestimated and the employees at Golder and Associates are helping create a more sustainable future for our next generation.

Finalist – The Greater Bank

The Greater Bank has a proud tradition of supporting charities and communities and in 2011, Greater Bank formalised this support through the establishment of the Greater Charitable Foundation, which provides Corporate Volunteering Award in funding to Australian based charities.

The Greater Bank’s volunteers regularly accompany teams from the Starlight Children’s Foundation on visits to the Gold Coast University Hospital and Tweed Heads/Lismore Based Hospitals. The volunteers are enthusiastic, energetic and work alongside the Starlight team to distract and support children and young people in the hospital through activities and games. The Greater Bank have been ardent supporters of the Starlight Foundation since 2011.

The volunteers from the Greater Bank have provided a welcome break from the anxiety and immense stress of the hospital experience for many young people, offering a positive distraction simply with a smile and laughter.

Queensland Excellence in Volunteer Management Award

Recipient – Anastasia Magriplis

UnitingCare Queensland Volunteer Manager & recipient of the Queensland Excellence in Volunteer Management Award.

Anastasia has managed the UnitingCare Queensland volunteer team for over 20 years providing exceptional leadership qualities throughout all parts of the organisation. During that period, Anastasia guided the development and implementation of policies, recruitment, training, quality-management, well-being and recognition and continuous improvement for volunteers throughout the business.

Currently in her full time role as UnitingCare Queensland Volunteering Manager, Anastasia oversees a workforce of 9,200 volunteers across Queensland and the Northern Territory. Volunteers are not only active in major cities across the state but also throughout regional and remote areas in hospitals, health and aged care, suicide and crisis support, community recovery, child and family services, and homelessness services.

In 2017 the UnitingCare Queensland volunteers contributed 1.5 million hours of volunteering throughout Queensland. Anastasia is passionate about the positive influence volunteers have on communities and strongly believes in community engagement.

The selection panel highlighted the comprehensive, extensive nature of Anastasia’s leadership along with her continuing passion and loyalty towards volunteers and volunteer programs

Finalist – Kirsty Wooler

Kirsty has been a Volunteer Manager for 5 years with the Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service and during that period has spent much of her time recruiting volunteers, organising events and fundraising. In response to an aging workforce and difficulties of retaining volunteers, Kirsty took the initiative to develop and promote a program directly targeting and identifying a new generation of volunteers. Being aware to ensure the program met with the National Volunteer Standards, she attended numerous training sessions and engaged the services of Volunteering Queensland.

The program – Step Up CapRescue Volunteers has enjoyed incredible success by doubling the engagement of volunteer opportunities and also raising awareness of the service in the wider community. Kirsty proactively advocates for the development and implementation of the program to match roles to the interest of their volunteers.

The selection panel were impressed by Kirsty’s dedication and leadership skills into enabling her organisation to make a positive step forward and establishing effective change in the community.

Finalist – Caitlin Buttenshaw

Caitlin has been with the Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service for 12 months and has shown incredible potential and drive working closely with the Volunteer Manager. Caitlin assisted in developing and delivery of the successful Step Up CapRescue Volunteers program, which is aimed towards a brand new generation of volunteers, encouraging more diversity and inclusiveness. The program has united the local community and has engaged the community in family friendly events.

In order for the program to succeed, Caitlin also attended many Volunteering Queensland training workshops and took every opportunity to demonstrate good practice and actively seek feedback to make continuous improvements to the program. Caitlin actively supports their volunteers working closely with them regardless of their age or background, supporting them to develop new skills and gain self-confidence.

The panel highlighted Caitlin’s commitment and team work towards establishing a program that is all inclusive and has set a positive example within the community, celebrating the spirit of volunteering.

Finalist – John Newley

John’s leadership with the SES Group at Warwick extended to over 35 years of service where he worked tirelessly to create an ‘orange family’, engaging and empowering the younger members of the community. John’s foresight and leadership have seen the Warwick SES Unit maintain and increase in volunteer numbers. Under John’s guidance he actively engaged in succession planning for upcoming leaders within the group and has been instrumental in the education of residents throughout the region, ensuring resilience during times of natural disaster.

As a natural and effective leader, John developed a Flood Response Manual for the Group and Local Disaster Management Groups, to ensure that new members were aware of what to do during times of emergency and high stress. The group supports a number of other voluntary groups in the Southern Downs Regional area, all of which ensure that the communities can support each other in times of natural disasters.

The selection panel were highly impressed with the incredible legacy of John’s work, the change he has affected and his dedication and strong interpersonal and leaderships skills.

Volunteering Impact Award

Recipient – The Pyjama Foundation

The Pyjama Foundation provides assistance to break the cycle of the disadvantage experienced by Australian children in care, through a learning-based mentoring program called the Love of Learning Program.

The aim of the program is to broaden the foster child’s support networks and provide relief and support for the children’s foster carers. They also provide an effective community approach to teaching and protecting vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

Since 2004, the organisation have trained over 5,800 volunteer mentors and have provided over 90,000 hours per annum of mentoring and support to children in care and over 100,000 books are read to children every year. The program has now expanded into numeracy and a variety of life skills, socialisations and life mentoring. The foundation believes in supporting and empowering children through education thereby changing the direction of their life and inspiring each individual to reach their full potential.

The selection panel were extremely impressed by the organisation’s approach to teaching and protecting vulnerable and disadvantaged children. The impact to a foster child’s life is immeasurable against the consistent, positive reinforcement provided by a Pyjama Foundation volunteer.

Finalist – Ipswich Hospice Care

The Ipswich Hospice Care Bereavement Support Services team provides one on one counselling and group counselling for adult grief, kids grief and parent-carer group counselling all of which are offered throughout the year. Palliative counselling is also available for the person that has been given the terminal prognosis and also for their family members.

The Bereavement Support Services team consists of 2 paid staff and 10 volunteers, all of which are qualified counsellors or human services students. Each and every team member is committed and dedicated to the service they provide, offering kindness, hope and understanding. The team also offers services to the wider community of Ipswich, which some may not be able to access due to financial issues, also potentially preventing possible mental health issues later in life and providing the tools for people to deal with their emotions and negotiate life’s challenges.

The selection panel highlighted the level of support, empathy and understanding provided by the Bereavement Support Services team to those dealing with grief or in palliative care. The importance of having a support service available allows people the dignity they deserve and the compassion of a community that cares.

Finalist – South Brisbane Voulunteers in Policing

The Volunteers in Policing Program works closely with police to undertake task that include support and assistance to victims of crime, resources and participating in community activities, conducting home security assessments, property identification, providing crime prevention awareness, supporting schools, Neighbourhood Watch groups, Water Police and guidance for victims who have experienced domestic or family violence.

The volunteers are drawn from the local community and the range of roles they perform complement the roles and responsibilities of the police officers. The volunteers engage with some of the most vulnerable members of the community, victims of crime and domestic violence, the elderly and the socially isolated. The important work provided by the volunteers cannot be underestimated as they provide information, support and skills to empower the community and ensure they feel secure in their own homes and community.

The selection panel were highly impressed by the Volunteers in Policing Program offering such diverse and important services to the community. Their exceptionally detailed nomination gave clear indication of the social impact their volunteer program had successfully achieved.

Queensland Volunteer of the Year Award

Recipient – Brad Wearne

Gardening and Tradition Art with 2018 Queensland Volunteer of the Year Brad Wearne

Brad is an inspiration to all who have met him, worked alongside him and to anyone who has suffered through personal adversity. Brad has been a volunteer at Ozcare Villa Vincent in Townsville for 22 months and during that time he has made a significant difference to the lives of the residents in the dementia unit offering them daily caring support.

He has transformed their lives with his outdoor workshop project, ensuring each workshop is all inclusive and every resident has a role – whatever it may be. Brad offers quiet encouragement and support to each resident whilst giving them a challenging and positive job to focus on. The project provides them with a sense of purpose, socialisation, increased concentration and greater self-esteem.

The selection panel were truly inspired by Brad’s exceptional level of personal courage and strength in order to volunteer for Ozcare. In 2013 Brad was involved in a horrific traffic accident and whilst he survived the trauma, he lost his left foot, mobility, income and suffered severe mental health issues. Determined not to slide deeper into despair, Brad began to volunteer at Villa Vincent and eventually regained his confidence and through sheer mental determination learnt to put aside his personal difficulties and see the greater needs of the residents. His compassion, empathy and drive will continue to make a positive change to the residents at the Ozcare Villa Vincent.

Finalist – Nick Marshall

Nick has spent more than 20 years volunteering in his professional capacity as a physiotherapist for the Queensland and Australian Surf Lifesaving Team. However, it’s Nick’s dedication and outstanding achievement in founding the charity Albatross Nippers that has earnt him a place as a finalist in the category of Queensland Volunteer of the Year.

Albatross Nippers is a charity dedicated to providing an all-inclusive nipper program for children with special needs. Nick has worked tirelessly to create and promote a program based upon the standard Sunday Nippers schedule, with the aim to accommodate the needs of children requiring special care and to become a truly inclusive program for both families and children.

Engaging with peers of a similar age allows children with special needs to develop, mature and grow in areas not affected by their disability. The program is also designed to educate other nippers on how best to include and communicate with children who are different in their own unique ways.

The selection panel were impressed by Nick’s passion and positive difference he is making towards the lives of children with special needs and in his capacity as a physiotherapist and surf lifesaving coach. Nick is an approachable mentor to so many young people, simply by engaging them through sport with the belief in the importance of inclusiveness and giving them the confidence and courage to be involved.

Finalist – Marilyn King

Marilyn has been a volunteer for Arthritis Queensland for 30 years and President for the Bundaberg Regional Arthritis Support Group for the last 15 years. Marilyn goes about her role efficiently and quietly, advocating for all those suffering from this debilitating chronic illness. Her compassionate, affable nature and beautiful smile has created a caring, supportive environment within her community. Under her leadership, the Support Group has held many educational workshops, led media and marketing campaigns and facilitated Community Seminars for the advancement of community health in the Bundaberg region.

Also as a founding member of the Bundaberg Health Services Foundation, Marilyn played an integral role in the establishment and growth of this local hospital charity. In 2008, Marilyn became vice chairman and through her tireless efforts the foundation was able to provide clean, affordable accommodation close to the hospital for local community members.

The selection panel highlighted Marilyn’s strong advocacy for volunteerism, as she leads from example as Marilyn suffers from arthritis herself. In addition to her volunteering work with Arthritis Queensland she has also been Vice President of the Bundaberg Hospital Health Services for 8 years and a volunteer rural fire fighter for 25 years.

Marilyn has devoted her life to volunteering and her commitment is all encompassing as is her care, passion and generosity which are limitless.

Congratulations again to all of our winners, 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.

Previous Queensland Volunteer Awards

The Queensland Volunteer awards are a time to celebrate the volunteering sector and all those who dedicate their time, energy and resources to improving peoples lives and protecting our environment.

As an organisation, we are very proud of the ongoing dedication of volunteers and volunteer managers. It is an honour to witness so many individuals come together to work towards the betterment of our communities.

We would like to share with you Snippets from the Queensland Volunteering Awards from years gone by and look forward to celebrating with you in 2020 and beyond!

View all the details of past award ceremonies from 202320222021202020192018, 2017, 2016

Stories for Volunteers

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