2015 Sydney Inner West Volunteer of the Year Awards Ceremony
The 2015 Sydney Inner West Volunteer of the Year Awards ceremony was held at Burwood Library and Community Hub on Wednesday 23 September 2015.
The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards is an annual program launched in 2007 by the Centre for Volunteering to recognise the outstanding efforts of the two million plus volunteers in NSW, to promote the importance of volunteering to the community and for the community to thank its volunteers.
The 2015 Sydney Inner West Adult Volunteer of the Year and overall Sydney Inner West Volunteer of the Year is Jane Hehir from Ashfield who volunteers with the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre.
Jane has been a volunteer at Newtown Neighbourhood Centre for approximately five years. Janeâ€™s primary work is at the weekly service hub â€œOne Stop Shopâ€, which is a weekly open gathering for people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless, people living with and/or recovering from mental illness and people with complex needs. This vitally important two hour weekly session caters for approximately 40-50 people.
The One Stop Shop is a non-funded program that relies heavily on individuals and services volunteering their time. In its early stages it was a difficult environment with challenging clientele. Jane has unique qualities as a volunteer of One Stop Shop and has played an important role in developing the One Stop Shop to be the success it is today. Jane possesses a special ability to build rapport with the vulnerable clientele of the program, assisting them to feel important and being completely discreet. Jane has been a reliable volunteer who has shown incredible resilience and dedication that has been instrumental to the success of this highly needed service.
Janeâ€™s work is highly valued and beneficial to the coordination and running of a successful program each week. The work and time that Jane has generously offered each week is irreplaceable and supports the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre and local community members.
2015 Sydney Inner West Youth Volunteer of the Year is Bridget Rose Kelly who volunteers with Plumtree Early Childhood Intervention Service.
Bridget Rose Kelly from Stanmore is a student at St Scholasticas College at Glebe and volunteers at Plumtree Early Childhood Intervention Service. Bridget has been a hardworking, reliable and devoted volunteer with Plumtree Early Childhood Intervention Service since 2013, assisting young children who have additional needs and their families.
Bridget assists with a multitude of tasks at the service, including the open playgroup on Saturdays. As Bridget is particularly artistic, she creates resources for the teachers and therapists, which include booklets, charts, augmentative and alternative communication boards, games, fine motor activities and workshop resources.
Bridget makes quality resources that are individual for each child depending on the child's needs. This gives children, staff and families access to games and activities that often take a very long time to make. With the growing demand for services and resources, Bridgetâ€™s hand-made resources assist the school to provide individualised and innovative services for children and their families in a timely manner.
In addition to volunteering at Plumtree, Bridget also volunteers at FRANS, a local disability support organisation, and continues to seek other opportunities to contribute to her local community through her invaluable volunteering.
2015 Senior Sydney Inner West Volunteer of the Year Award is Diane Hewitt from Marrickville who volunteers with the Rozelle Neighbourhood Centre Inc.
Diane connected with Rozelle Neighbourhood Centre (RNC) as a volunteer when Recreation and Peer Support (RAPS) merged with RNC in 2014. Diane has been involved with this program for over 24 years in varying capacities. Diane was a huge advocate for maintaining the identity and membership of RAPS throughout the merge process.
Diane supports the RAPS calendar of activities in the community at least three times a month. RAPS participants are a diverse group of adults with a disability, who have varying support needs and strong shared interest in being part of the community and making lifelong friends. When RNC and RAPS merged, Diane became a member of the RNC Management Committee.
In 2015, Diane has taken leadership of the RNC Management Committee as Chairperson in a time when all community organisations are enduring transformational change. Diane is always fair, quietly committed, selfless, outgoing and receptive to many personalities and quirks. Diane has a dry wit and an appreciation for creativity, community, arts, culture and adventure. Diane's kindness is far reaching and generous. She supports in a way that encourages individualsâ€™ confidence in their own ability, at every level of the organisation.
Diane is a rare individual who is able to balance professional boundaries and genuine connections with everyone who is involved in RNC including clients, employees, volunteers and voluntary committee members. Diane makes a selfless contribution that enriches the organisation and its ability to deliver this vital service.
2015 Sydney Inner West Volunteer Team of the year award goes to the SPARK Volunteer Team.
The SPARK Program's primary goal is to inspire inclusive communities. SPARK supports the needs of newly arrived children and families of migrant and refugee backgrounds. It aims to increase a sense of school and local community with two programs: Learning Clubs for Primary Students through the Bright Sparks Program; and Family Engagement through the Community Sparks Program. These programs are run in partnership with the local primary schools to provide after-school educational, social, English language and cultural programs to newly arrived children and families of migrant and refugee backgrounds.
The majority of SPARK Volunteers work in teams of 12-15 in weekly learning clubs. These clubs are broader in scope than a traditional homework club. The sessions aim to: develop trusting relationships with the children attending; build self-esteem and confidence through activity based games; develop imagination and creativity through artistic and sporting session; support English language development and school work; and increase cross-community inter-generational understanding.
The family engagement programs provide a place for social engagement and social English conversation, Sydney excursions and parenting classes. In addition, playgroup programs provide early learning development for toddlers, while parents are engaged in their own SPARK activities. This playgroup supports toddlers' preparedness for school. The key outcomes of all programs are to: help address issues associated with trauma, depression and social isolation; increase confidence and self-esteem; increase awareness of new community systems, structures and environment especially the school community; and build aspirations for the future.
The SPARK program could not operate and achieve all its many outcomes without the passionate and skilled support provided by a huge range of volunteers. This dedicated group of volunteers consistently provides skilled support and meaningful, trustful relationships to children and families across four Local Government Areas in Western Sydney. The volunteers are critical in creating a genuine and welcoming link between newly arrived groups, local communities and the broader Australian community.
New definition of Volunteering
A two-year review by Volunteering Australia and peak state bodies has resulted in a broader definition of volunteering that reflects the many and varied forms of activities undertaken in Australian society. The new definition states that volunteering â€˜is time willingly given for the common good without financial gainâ€™. The definition includes activism, recognises corporate volunteering by an entity for the first time (companies that organise employee volunteers), and provides explanatory notes on â€˜what is inâ€™ and â€˜what is outâ€™.
The definition includes formal volunteering that takes place within organisations (including institutions and agencies) in a structured way and informal volunteering (acts that take place outside the context of a formal organisation). While the vast majority of volunteering is undertaken by individuals, entities also donate employee time which is why this is now included within the definition.
In its explanatory notes to the definition, Volunteering Australia states that â€˜without financial gainâ€™ means:
Volunteers can receive reimbursement for out of pocket expenses.
Volunteers can be rewarded and recognised as part of good practice. While this process may introduce an element of financial or material benefit to the volunteer, it does not exclude the activity from being considered as volunteering.
Volunteers may receive an honorarium, stipend or similar payment as recognition for voluntary services or professional services voluntarily rendered, in accordance with Australian Taxation Office rulings. Based on the nature of such payments and the recipientâ€™s circumstances, the receipt of this type of payment does not preclude the person from being considered a volunteer.
Volunteers cannot be exploited for profit.
and that â€˜for the common goodâ€™ means:
The volunteering should directly or indirectly benefit people outside the family or household or else benefit a cause, even though the person volunteering normally benefits as well.â€™ This definition aligns with the United Nations view that volunteering â€˜should be for the common good. Volunteering is often considered as contributing to community wellbeing and volunteering activities cover all sectors of society.
Activism can also now be considered volunteering. This is aligned to the current UN position on volunteering that states: â€˜When people participate in peaceful activism both sides seek what they consider to be beneficial outcomes and are included in our definition. Activities involving or inciting violence that harm society and actions not corresponding to the values attributed to volunteerism are not included in our definitionâ€™.
Volunteering can also now include the concept of reciprocity, such as participating in groups where a reciprocal exchange of help and services is undertaken for the benefit of others as well as the volunteer.
There are a number of programs that fall outside the definition, such as mandated court orders including community service and fines and any other mandatory government programs.
International Volunteer Day is celebrated on 5 December, 2015. It is an international observance designated by the United Nations since 1985. It offers an opportunity for volunteer organisations and individual volunteers to make visible their contributions - at local, national and international levels - to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
International Volunteer Day is marked by many non-governmental organisations, including Red Cross, Scouts and others. It is also marked and supported by United Nations Volunteers.
International Volunteer Day is a chance for individual volunteers, communities and organisations to promote their contributions to development at the local, national and international levels. By combining UN support with a grassroots mandate, the day is a unique opportunity for people and volunteer-involving organisations to work with government agencies, non-profit institutions, community groups, academia and the private sector.