During National Volunteer Week the Queensland Volunteering Awards are held to honour the inspiring endeavours of hundreds of volunteers, volunteer managers, volunteer-involving organisations and businesses that invest in employee volunteering programs, who bring about positive change in our community. This year due to COVID-19 the awards were held in December together with our Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 02 December 2020. This was an online event held in celebration of International Volunteer Day.
The full awards presentation is available online with awards 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
As patron of Volunteering Queensland, The Governor of Queensland, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC via video message sent his appreciation to our state’s volunteers during this difficult year and congratulated the award recipients.
Thank you to all recipients, finalists, nominees and nominators who took the time to share the great work of our volunteer heroes in the community.
The Queensland Volunteering Awards are proudly supported by the Queensland Government
Queensland Lifetime Contribution to Volunteering Award
Recipient – Vicki Warren
Volunteering for 52 years with Maryborough Softball and Hockey clubs, Vicki Warren demonstrates commitment to sport at a regional grassroots level. She has undertaken various roles from Coach, President, Canteen Volunteer, Grants Coordinator, Umpire and more.
Vicki’s work with representative sporting teams has built confidence and self-esteem and her successful grant applications resulted in the development of quality sporting facilities.Passionate about the social and health benefits sport can play in a child’s life, Vicki’s commitment has ensured sport is accessible to all. Her volunteering history with these many organisations demonstrates her constancy of service and a well-deserved recipient in this category.A Maryborough City Council Australia Day award recipient in 2008, Vicki has also received a service award from Softball Australia. Vicki says “I’ve always been a person who feels if sport gives you something, you have to give something back.
Finalist – Barbara Dean
Barbara Dean has dedicated 37 years of service to the Girl Guides, undertaking various roles including with the state leadership team in management and on committees.
Barbara has supported nine District Managers, the needs of 30 unit leaders in each region, a Region Manager and countless volunteers. Her extensive experience and knowledge has proven invaluable for the Finance Risk and Audit Committee and organsiation as a whole.
A compassionate mentor, Barbara demonstrates integrity, humility and true leadership to the organisation’s volunteers, youth members and their families.
Finalist – Jillian Stewart
An advocate for reducing barriers and building inclusion, Jillian Stewart has dedicated her life to creating positive local outcomes in her roles with PCYC Inala and Fortitude Valley and Western Districts Netball Association.
Since 1981, Jillian has supported PCYC as chair and committee member, transformed the Inala Hub to a thriving outreach and became the inaugural volunteer for the local Braking the Cycle program.
Her resilience, leadership style and community engagement has seen Jillian open up a world of possibilities for young people.
Queensland Youth Volunteer of the Year Award
Recipient – Jak Hardy
Jak Hardy is committed to advocating for human rights, supporting communities, governments and the non-profit sector to strengthen strategies that reduce disadvantage.
Volunteering for over ten years, Jak has donated his time and skills as Chair of the Sunshine Coast Young Leaders Network, Board Director of the Maroochy Neighbourhood Centre, Volunteer with SES Maroochydore and he also provides probono consultancy for non-profits and young entrepreneurs.
Jak has led several local campaigns on human rights issues including with Open Doors Australia, World Vision, Destiny Rescue and Amnesty International. He is determined to advocate for policy change and eliminate modern day slavery, poverty and injustice.
To him an award is an opportunity to give voice to those he represents, and a platform to for the causes he cares about: inclusive governance, human rights and education – the foundations of global citizenship.
Finalist – Jessica Hernandez
Jessica Hernandez is a leader at multiple scout groups and is the Assistant Cub Scout Leader at Goodna and North Ipswich Scout Groups. Jessica has also supported the Nursery Road Scout Group, which is a special needs group. She has recently undertaken the role of Region Representative for the Moreton Region Rovers.
Building capacity in her region, Jessica has volunteered at many events such as CMC Rocks, Winternationals, the Ipswich Show, and student camps. During COVID-19, Jessica volunteered for the Red Cross tele-outreach program, providing self- and hotel quarantine calls. At her university she volunteers on the college residential committee as the Events Convenor, running events for over 300 Residents. Jessica is an outstanding young volunteer who is committed to a diversity of roles.
Finalist – Evelyn Robinson
Evelyn Robinson is passionate about supporting those who are vulnerable and at risk, donating her time to multiple charities and causes.
Volunteering for Rize Up, Evelyn demonstrates care and kindness in fundraising, preparing bathroom and laundry packs and as part of the home set up program for victims of domestic violence. In 2018 she was the team leader and always takes great care and pride in making accommodation a safe, warm and welcoming home.
Volunteering with Redcliffe Breakfast Club, Evelyn assists with providing meals to the homeless and breaking down isolation and stigma by treating each client with respect, dignity, and always with a smile.
Queensland Corporate Volunteering Award
Recipient – RACQ Foundation Assistance Projects
RACQ Foundation Assistance Projects sees staff volunteer with farmers who have been affected by flood and drought. Volunteers spend a week on a farm to repair machinery, fencing, improve homesteads, and feed livestock. Qualified tradespeople provide repairs that farmers wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. RACQ Bank volunteers conduct financial wellbeing one-on-one sessions. And one of the most appreciated and rewarding tasks is simply sharing a coffee and a chat to remind farmers they are not facing this alone. 91 RACQ volunteers have provided over 4,000 hours assistance in the last year.
After more than two years without rain, South Burnett Kingaroy dairy farmer, Brian Tessmann, said the volunteer team at his property did so much more than just the physical work they completed. “There’s a lot of extra mental and physical stress that comes on a farmer during drought,” Brian said. “Having the [team] here from the RACQ Foundation has been really good to handle all those jobs we just can’t get around to. When you have people come on the farm, roll the sleeves up and do a bit of the work it really lifts the spirits.”
For the staff the projects have been equally rewarding. Road Ahead journalist Jessica Wilson said “This is a great opportunity to experience a different way of life in our own State and to give back to the Queensland community. One of my favourite moments was talking around the dinner table with the Abdy family and the other RACQ volunteers. I feel like we built a special bond over a few short days and that the Abdys appreciated the conversation as much as the physical work.”
Finalist – The Boutique Collection
The Boutique Collection supports the Ronald McDonald Family Retreat program by volunteering their time in managing and maintaining a two-bedroom unit in Palm Cove, providing a welcome escape for families who can’t afford any time out due to the pressures of caring for a seriously ill child. The Retreat provides a week of free accommodation in resort facilities, giving families a chance to relax and reconnect. On a weekly basis, The Boutique Collection team clean the unit from top to bottom ready to welcome each new family. They go above and beyond to ensure each family is comfortable and enjoys their stay.
Finalist – Auto & General Insurance Company Ltd.
All 1,300 staff at Auto & General Insurance Company Ltd are provided 2 days to volunteer with a cause of their choosing. At their Kawana company site they support the Kawana Surf Life Saving Club and at their North Lakes site they support PCYC Deception Bay. Their staff have helped with organising and supervising community events, fundraising, working bees, garden projects, as well as offering financial assistance.
The company also supports Act for Kids, an Australian charity providing free therapy and support services to children and families who have experienced or are at risk of child abuse and neglect.
Salute to Volunteers
Queensland Excellence in Volunteer Management Award
Recipient – Susan Solakovic
Susan Solakovic’s work with Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association has cemented her reputation as a supportive, motivating and thoroughly organised manager of volunteers. Whether they’ve worked with Susan for years or are meeting her for the first time, volunteers describe her generous spirit, attention to detail and genuine appreciation for her volunteer colleagues.
From the small details to the big picture, Susan brings a positive and structured approach to volunteer management. In particular, her personalised training leaves volunteers feeling confident and ready for the day’s events. Through Susan’s leadership, Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association has seen increased participation among long-term volunteers and new recruits alike, helping them deliver strong outcomes for the community. 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.
Finalist – Moroni Pugh
Moroni Pugh’s time with Wesley Mission Queensland has supported many disadvantaged people in the community. Managing volunteers for the Emergency Relief and Community Meals programs, Moroni has persevered through a challenging year and maintained the high standards he is known for. Moroni is also noted for his collaborative approach to volunteer management, encouraging his volunteer team members to contribute to long-term decision making and daily debrief sessions.
With a long history of supporting the community sector, Moroni brings a wealth of knowledge to the role. Outside of Wesley Mission Queensland, Moroni also finds time to study and contribute to several local groups, including within the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori communities.
Finalist – Kerrie Barnes
Kerrie Barnes has been managing volunteers through Surf Life Saving Queensland’s Point Danger branch for eighteen years. With eleven surf life saving clubs and thousands of volunteers, Kerrie is known for her ability to balance the needs of the organisation and individuals in her team. Kerrie’s strong skills in administration have helped her create processes that have been adopted by other branches throughout the state.
A focus on helping the community has shone through in Kerrie’s decades of work, including managing several committees and personally mentoring rising female leaders within the branch. Kerrie’s dedication to the well-being of others has carried through to her volunteer management and allowed her to achieve excellent results.
Volunteering Impact Award
Recipient – Karuna Hospice Services – Palliative Care Support and Biography Volunteer Program
Karuna Hospice Services provides in home palliative care to support people with life limiting conditions, to live and die well in their place of choice. Karuna has developed models of care and education to help people understand, prepare for and face the end of life with calm and acceptance.
40 palliative care support volunteers work alongside nurses to provide respite for carers, companionship for clients, and practical support such as transport, household tasks or outings. Biography volunteers record the life stories of clients providing an opportunity to reflect on their past and document beautiful memories for their loved ones.
Karuna volunteers consider it a privilege to provide care and support to families at such a vulnerable time. Frequently volunteers tell Karuna that the own lives are enriched through working with their clients and their families. They feel the personal and emotional benefits far outweigh the effort they give.
One such volunteer Kerry said about the program “My connection with Karuna and the families I have had the privilege of being with, enriches my life and I pray that it has a ripple effect to those I love and hold dear within my family and friendship group.”
Finalist – Women’s Legal Service Qld – Remote Volunteering Program
Women’s Legal Service Qld’s remote volunteering program connects vulnerable women experiencing domestic violence in rural areas of Queensland with timely specialist legal assistance, provided over the phone by volunteer solicitors.
Women in rural Queensland are often isolated from support services and may not be able to access or afford private help. Solicitors across the state find it difficult to volunteer in person; despite a strong desire to give back. The program has enabled 33 volunteers from 31 law firms to give live-saving legal advice to almost 1,000 women.
Finalist – Queensland Homicide Victims’ Support Group
The Queensland Homicide Victims’ Support Group was founded by five families, all affected by homicide, who united to advocate for effective support and acknowledgement from State government of the enormous distress co-victims of homicide experience. Losing a loved one to homicide creates a unique type of grief.
Committed to the practice of mutual support and self-help, the group has 40 peer support volunteers and 30 community volunteers. The families who are helped find a source of solace, of information and even of inspiration, with support offered as long as needed. The group provides a 24hour crisis support line, advocacy, referrals, court and parole board support, policy and reform.
Queensland Volunteer of the Year Award
Recipient – Liz Downes
For more than 40 years Liz Downes has been volunteering with Wildlife Queensland and other Conservation organisations to take action on difficult environmental and social issues. Through her beautifully worded submissions and campaigning she has worked to save Torres Strait pigeons from possible extinction and for more than 30 years has managed to save Hinchinbrook Island from inappropriate development. Liz is a positive person, always sensitive to the plight of others, and is a talented communicator, researcher, and story-teller. Her colleagues who share their passion for the environment share such positive opinion of Liz, such as Sandra who said “Liz is a quiet, unassuming achiever and works determinedly no matter what obstacles are put in her path. Her dignity and quiet resolve under pressure is admirable.”
For 8 years Liz has volunteered with the James Cook University Library Special Collections where she conveys the importance of history (especially North Queensland’s history) to a broad audience in an entertaining fashion through a blog, events, and sourcing stories for a regular radio series with ABC North Queensland. Through creating access to our past, Liz helps us better prepare for the future. Feedback from the library says she just doesn’t talk the talk she walks the walk and that her actions are a true reflection reflection her beliefs; making her contribution and support of JCU Library Special Collections tangible and long lasting. She does this with great enthusiasm, good humour and skill.
Finalist – John Clemones
With many volunteering roles over the last 37 years, John Clemones is known for his giving nature and care for others, always willing to lend personal support to those who are going through a difficult time. John has volunteered for 9 years with Buderim Men’s Shed as a Metal Work Team Leader and a Committee Member. He lives their spirit of mateship and inducts and supervises new volunteers to ensure they feel welcome and comfortable. For 13 years John has volunteered as a Skipper with Maroochy River Patrol where he organises weekly outings to collect litter from the riverbanks.
As a Patrol Coordinator for 7 years, he collects data, writes reports and manages volunteers. John always goes the extra mile, putting his hand up to coordinate events, organise maintenance and take on a high level of responsibility. His contribution is valuable, relied upon, and extraordinary.
Finalist – Vivien Hanrahan
Vivien Hanrahan has a true commitment and passion for helping those in need, as evident by her 25 years of volunteering with the Filipino Association, 20 years with The Neighbourhood Hub, and 9 years with Zonta. Vivien is a conduit for migrant people to the Mackay community through her work on various multicultural programs. She has mentored many migrants through the process of improving their English, understanding career goals, gaining skills, volunteering, building their networks and friendships, and helping them become confident and sustainable in a new, foreign place.
Through welcoming all people and creating a safe space, Vivien creates opportunities for new migrants to gain financial and social independence. Vivien’s achievements help create a stronger, diverse and more resilient community, and highlight the benefits that the growth of multiculturalism brings to her region.
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 celebrate with so many changemakers and meet virtually.
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!