Premier Chris Minns hosted a reception at the Art Gallery of NSW on Monday, 20 May, in recognition of National Volunteer Week. The event aimed to acknowledge and celebrate the significant contributions that volunteers in NSW make, emphasizing their impact on creating a stronger community. Over 300 invited guests from various volunteer organizations attended the event, which coincided with the first day of National Volunteer Week (20-26 May 2024), Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteering. This week provides a platform to highlight the vital role of volunteers in our community and promote increased volunteer participation.

The Premier, along with guest speaker Carlene York, outgoing State Emergency Services (SES) Commissioner, and Ministers Jodie Harrison and Jihad Dib, responsible for volunteering and emergency services respectively, joined forces to present the NSW Government Community Service Awards. These awards aim to recognize individuals who have significantly contributed to improving the quality of life for members of their community, surpassing the expectations of their usual occupation.

Volunteers play a crucial role in various settings across the state, from cities to towns, rural communities, coastal areas, and bush regions. Their efforts are integral to the wellbeing of NSW communities, shaping our social fabric and contributing to the economy. The six award recipients were nominated by their respective State Members of Parliament and received their accolades directly from the Premier, highlighting their outstanding dedication and service to the community.

  1. Mr Abbas Alvi – nominated by Stephen Bali MP, Member for Blacktown

A dedicated volunteer, Abbas Alvi has devoted much of his time to volunteering within his community including volunteering at the Max Webber Library in Blacktown on a weekly basis. As a community leader, he is also involved in many associations to promote peace and social cohesion. With over 120,000 Indian-Muslims in Australia, Abbas’ focus is to help facilitate the integration of the community with Australian society and mainstream Indian diaspora. In addition, Abbas is the President of the We Australians are Creative, a community art organisation helping aspiring artists.

  1. Ms Glennys Campbell – nominated by Maryanne Stuart MP, Member for Heathcote 

Glennys’ volunteer journey with Activus Transport started in 2019 where she volunteered her time as a driver.  Activus Transport is the Sutherland Shire’s community transport provider with nearly 4000 customers who rely on people like Glennys to help them get around, to visit family and friends, to go shopping or attend an appointment. Glennys is now involved in all facets of the organisation including contributions to the management board and risk management committee. A favourite amongst her colleagues and clients, Glennys also volunteers weekly in the customer service team.

Glennys embodies the spirit of volunteerism through her resilience, adaptability, and unwavering dedication.

  1. Mr Nick Boes – nominated by Mark Speakman SC MP, Member for Cronulla

For many years, Nick Boes has tirelessly served his community.  He has been involved in many community initiatives including the Kurnell Progress and Precinct Residents Association, the Sutherland Shire Kurnell Tourism Strategy Working Party, the Adopt our Historic Drive campaign, Clean Up Australia campaign, the Captain Cook Society, and the naming of the John Weir Reserve, just to name a few! Nick has also been involved with Kurnell Public School for many years with a passion for fostering an appreciation of Kurnell’s rich history and culture.

More than 23 years ago, Nick introduced the school’s John Weir writing competition, inspiring Year 6 students in understanding and valuing their local environment. Nick is also a dedicated member of the Kurnell Rural Fire Service and has been instrumental in raising funds for a much-needed fire fighting vehicle.

  1. Ms Kristine Gauci –nominated by Karen McKeown OAM MP, Member for Penrith

In 2013, Kristine co-founded the non-for-profit organisation “Our Community Cares” raising funds each year for equipment at Nepean Health including comfortable chairs for chemo patients, lowline beds for aged care as well as sensory activities for people with dementia.  Since starting the organisation Kristine, along with very few other volunteers, has successfully raised $630,000 which is no mean feat!

Last year she implemented a program for free lawn maintenance for ill and frail clients as well as re-established a scholarship for year 10 students to connect and form friendships with aged care residents in the Penrith community.

And on top off all this, she even finds the time to chair the Penrith Community Kitchen.  

  1. Dr Jeffrey Freeman – nominated by Wendy Tuckerman MP, Member for Goulburn 

As Chair of the Penrose Hall 355 Committee, Dr Jeffrey Freeman campaigned to local council for the much-needed extension of Penrose Hall. Following the Black Summer bush fires in 2019/2020, which affected Penrose, an application for a Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Grant was approved. Jeffrey took on the voluntary role as Project Manager, working tirelessly and making himself available 7 days a week to ensure the best outcome for the new Penrose Hall. I

  1. Ms Mette Kitiona – nominated by Kylie Wilkinson MP, Member for East Hills 

Mette is a passionate volunteer who supports all things junior rugby league within her community, including the Canterbury Bankstown Junior Rugby League women’s program. She looks after all children across the representative teams, ensuring that each child is fed and uniformed appropriately whilst on tour for the Junior State Cup. Mette has also created the highly successful Pasifika Touch Festival, working closely with New South Wales Rugby League and the Pacific Islander community to deliver a wonderful cultural event.

Source and Images credit: NSW Government