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So far Gwen Harper has created 74 blog entries.

Mercury Talking Point – Opinion Piece

We need all kinds of volunteers, not just those who fit an image.

THOSE who volunteer will know that at times volunteering can feel like an emotional rollercoaster.

There will be days where it feels like we’re having an impact, and other days when it feels like we’re not.

Days where it feels like our attempts to make a difference are only just touching the edges of an issue that feels so large that perhaps we question why we even try.

It might be the Landcare volunteer helping to manage the seemingly never-ending weeds and plastic showing up along their coastlines.

Or the volunteers packing food and supplies for an increasing number of people in need through local organisations like Foodbank or SecondBite.

It may even be the volunteers from the surf life saving clubs dotted across our island, who every year rise to the challenge of finding enough volunteers to patrol our beaches.

Each and every one will have experienced a moment of feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of what they’re trying to do. This is particularly true for those who may not be volunteering as often as they would like, and feeling that their contribution is too small to make a difference.

Some may no longer be volunteering because they felt that giving one hour a week, a few hours each month or one day year wasn’t enough to make a difference.

But they are, and I want to remind people that the value of their volunteering is not measured through the number of hours that they give, but by the impact of what they’re doing.

There is a beautiful saying by Desmond Tutu: “Do a little bit of good where you are. It is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

These words are so true for our volunteers across Tasmania.

An hour a week is all it takes to help someone learn to read, or a couple of hours a month might be the highlight for an older person living in a retirement village.

One evening a year is all that is needed to help out at a trivia night for your local school, or one day to chip in at the annual community clean-up. There are also those in our community where time isn’t an issue, but they aren’t volunteering because perhaps they feel that they don’t fit the image of who they think is a volunteer.

Yet the diversity of volunteering roles across our island are equally matched by the diversity of the people who volunteer in them.

They are old, young and living in the city and in homes surrounded by paddocks.

They have university degrees, TAFE qualifications and some never finished school.

Some are transitioning out of the workplace into retirement and others are volunteering whilst they seek to enter it.

There’s also a bunch who see themselves as different.

This may be because they speak with an accent, need assistance to walk, talk or hear, have different skin colours or perhaps even a past that they think others may consider chequered.

They’re all volunteers and this year, in the spirit of this week’s National Volunteer Week theme, “Give a Little, Change a Lot”, I want to remind every volunteer that their contribution is significant, particularly those who feel that it may not be.

It is, and please keep going because every bit of good happening across Tasmania is estimated to be worth at least $4.9 billion each year, and every single volunteer is contributing to this extraordinary figure.

It doesn’t matter if you’re volunteering once a week, once a month or once a year and it doesn’t matter who you are or what your story is.

You’re all making a difference and for this we thank you.

And a final message to those who are no longer volunteering because they felt like they were not making a difference, and to those who are reluctant to begin because they feel like they won’t fit in.

I urge you to reconsider.

Volunteering is done by everyone for everyone, and that includes you.

Alison Lai is chief executive of Volunteering Tasmania.

Article published in The Mercury Newspaper, 22 May 2018

Mercury Talking Point – Opinion Piece 2018-05-22T12:50:11+00:00

Winners Announced for the 2018 Southern Cross Television Tasmanian Volunteering Awards

The 2018 Southern Cross Television Tasmanian Volunteering Awards held at Government House acknowledge the valuable contribution volunteers make to the Tasmanian community and signify the start of National Volunteer Week (21-28 May 2018).

Patron of Volunteering Tasmania, Her Excellency, Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, AC, Governor of Tasmania hosted the 27 finalists, their nominators, industry sponsors and VIPs at the official Awards ceremony at Government House.

The Hon. Jacquie Petrusma MP, Minister for Disability Services and Community Development, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women presented the  2018 Premier’s Volunteer of the Year Award to Mr Leslie Williams, who has been actively volunteering for over 60 years.

Mr Williams currently dedicates his time to the Huntington’s Disease Association of Tasmania, supporting families and raising awareness.

Volunteering Tasmania’s CEO Alison Lai said the judging panel always finds it extremely difficult to narrow down the finalists, when so many people are doing incredible things.

“There is no doubt that Les is an amazing human and an incredibly worthy winner of the Premier’s Volunteer of the Year award, but in the spirit of this year’s National Volunteer Week theme ‘Give a Little. Change a Lot’, I want to remind every volunteer that their contribution, big or small, is significant.”

“Volunteering is not measured through the number of hours people give, but by the impact of what they’re doing. It doesn’t matter if you are giving one hour a week, a few hours each month, one day a year or more, collectively volunteers are contributing an estimated $4.9 billion dollars to Tasmania each year and making a difference, and for this we thank them all.” Ms Lai said.

The Awards are Tasmania’s only state-wide program that formally recognises excellence in volunteering and are supported by the State Government and valued sponsors.


The 2018 winners are:


The Premier’s Volunteer of the Year Award

Leslie Williams- Huntington’s Disease Association of Tasmania


Anglicare Tasmania Community Care and Health Award

Leslie Williams- Huntington’s Disease Association Tasmania


Bulk Nutrients Sport and Recreation Award

Shane Askew – Coordinator, Burnie Surf Lifesaving Club


CatholicCare Tasmania Volunteer Group or Program Award

Launceston RSL Sub Branch Australian Defence Force Welfare Team


Hydro Tasmania’s Excellence Award- for Best Practice in Volunteer Management

Liz Lord – Volunteer Coordinator, Australian Wooden Boat Festival Inc.


Lifeline Tasmania Emergency Services Award

Rodney McLean – Glengarry Volunteer Fire Brigade


NRM South Environment, Animal Care and Conservation Award

Norma Baker – Wildlife Carer, North East


TasTAFE Education, Science and Technology Award

Fiona Armstrong – Tutor, Glenorchy LINC and 26TEN


Tourism Industry Council Tasmania Arts, Heritage and Tourism Award

Trevor Clark, OAM – President, Exeter Show Society


Volunteer Tasmania Corporate Award

Hydro Tasmania


Photographs from the event will be posted on our website and on our social media channels shortly.

To read the stories behind the finalists click here.

Winners Announced for the 2018 Southern Cross Television Tasmanian Volunteering Awards 2018-05-21T16:02:11+00:00

CatholicCare Tasmania Volunteer Program or Group Award: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order)

Kingborough Council Volunteer Program    

The Kingborough Volunteer Program (KVP) was created by the Kingborough Council’s Positive Aging Committee who were seeking opportunities to decrease social isolation in the community, as well as providing options for residents to remain in their own homes with dignity.

The KVP has made a measurable impact over the past five and half years as a dedicated social and support service for residents in Kingborough aged over 65. There are fifty two volunteers aged between twenty seven and eighty eight, many of whom are a similar age to the people they’re selflessly assisting. Their skills and activities are varied and include driving clients to medical appointments and shopping, walking pets, gardening, walks on the beach, travel to support groups, or trips to museums and cafes.

KVP has helped to enhance the lives of both clients and volunteers. There is an increased value on accomplishment, self-worth, fulfillment, and also new avenues for social interaction. Most clients advise they would not be able to remain at home without the valuable support of the Kingborough Volunteers, which also supports the client’s family, friends and neighbours by relieving the pressure on busy working extended families.


 RSL Launceston sub-branch: Australian Defence Force Welfare Team

Australian Defence Force Welfare, a sub-branch of RSL Launceston, exists because there has been a gap in the welfare system with Australian Defence Force (ADF) members hitting crisis point for a number of different reasons. These reasons include but are not limited to: mental health, relationships, housing issues and financial problems.

Most ADF members that are in this situation have issues with trying to access the basic needs while their claims are going through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA). The volunteer team provides access to housing, checks on health and mental health well-being, provides the basics, and access to DVA advocates.  Each participant is respected, supported and guided in a way that assists their current situation without judgement or criticism.

The program started in Launceston, but is now supporting people state-wide. Six volunteers are on the team at the moment and include people with lived experience in the ADF, experience in homelessness, family of returned service personnel, and more. The team has the personal attributes, abilities, and understanding to engage with people who have fallen between the gaps and generally do not trust the system. The program is self-funded by donations from the community, fundraising and applying for grants.


Tamar Island Wetlands Centre Volunteers Community Action in Reserves Group (CARes)

The Tamar Island Wetlands Centre (TIWC) Volunteer CARes group are a branch of Wildcare Inc. The twenty seven active volunteers operate the TIWC with support from a part-time centre coordinator, on behalf of the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service. The volunteers, ranging in age from twenty one to ninety, have been successfully running the TIWC since it opened in November 2000.

These volunteers are a truly inspiring and passionate group; their hard work, commitment, enthusiasm, and dedication is evident through the successful and continued operation of the TIWC. Their motivation to raise the profile of wetlands conservation and the benefits healthy wetlands provide is apparent with the increase in visitation to approximately 38,000 visitors to the reserve annually.

These volunteers individually show their strengths by participating in small projects of their interests, further contributing to the greater conservation outcomes. As a group they have formed lifelong friendships, and enjoy the social connections and shared experiences of being part of this team.  The volunteers are able to inspire and encourage new volunteers by the time and care they take, talking to regular visitors, displaying their passion for volunteering and the benefits to themselves, the community and the environment. The group are resilient and have remained united through the many changes that occur within the workplace and community.

CatholicCare Tasmania Volunteer Program or Group Award: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order) 2018-05-07T12:03:46+00:00

Hydro Tasmania Award for Best Practice in Volunteer Management: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order)

Abi Binning – Executive Officer, Wide Angle Tasmania

Abi Binning is the Executive Officer for Wide Angle Tasmania (WAT), a not for profit organisation with a mission to encourage, develop & support Tasmanian screen practitioners.

Abi has a genuine interest in supporting people and identifying their strengths and their passions. This enables her to direct the volunteer into an experience that is rewarding for them and those they are connected with.  Through her work with WAT members and film makers, Abi identified the need to connect individuals with more mentors, practitioners, projects and opportunities.

Over the last twelve months WAT has engaged with 200 volunteers, in positions ranging from the WAT Board to live productions. The film sector is built on an ethos of reciprocity, cooperation and sharing, and Abi has developed a program that supports that ethos.


Christine Gimblett – President, Lions Club of Brighton

Christine has an energy and enthusiasm that is memorable and draws people together, enabling her to re-invigorate the Brighton Lions Club that she is currently the president of. Through warmth, engagement and excellent listening, Christine identifies peoples’ strengths and interests and tailors their volunteering tasks accordingly – and in doing so helps them develop new skills.

Christine makes sure everyone feels included, despite big differences in social backgrounds. She has introduced a Youth Mental Health First Aid training to Brighton’s Grade 9 students, which was part-funded by a Car and Bike Show that brought exhibitors and visitors from all over the state.  She also applied for various grants, ran other community activities and approached many local organisations to help fund this program, now in its second year.

Christine has assisted in tripling the attendance of the Brighton Christmas Carols which is a family event that crosses social barriers; and also operates a CatholicCare craft/social group for 6+. As a volunteer she dedicates herself full-time to help make the Brighton community a better place.


Liz Lord – Volunteers Coordinator, Australian Wooden Boat Festival Inc

Liz Lord is the Volunteers Coordinator for the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival.  Her responsibilities include the recruitment, registration, training and assignment of more than 400 volunteers for this biennial event.

One of the challenges when dealing with a large group of volunteers is ensuring that each individual feels engaged, cared for and valued to which Liz approaches with a highly effective system of project teams dedicated to particular needs.

Her personal touch, face-to-face or on the telephone, maintains a sympathetic, positive relationship with each volunteer from the first point of contact. She is tireless during the event, running a calm, restful ‘volunteers centre’ on the festival site where workers can rest and restore themselves. The festival’s reputation for friendliness, inclusion and enthusiasm is the result of a culture created and maintained by the Volunteers Coordinator, Liz Lord.

Hydro Tasmania Award for Best Practice in Volunteer Management: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order) 2018-05-07T16:18:08+00:00

Volunteering Tasmania Corporate Award: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order)

Hydro Tasmania

Hydro’s program began in 2011, recognising the value of volunteering for professional and personal growth. They utilise published procedures and a full-time qualified coordinator; options are flexible and employees do all forms of volunteering – one-off or ongoing, projects, and skilled volunteering.

All participants volunteer with a community organisation of their choice to lift capacity and improve their strategic thinking, problem-solving, self-awareness and confidence. Hydro have benchmarked their program against larger programs, reviewed it against community and employee expectations, and feedback is sought so that it continues to improve.

In 2017 Hydro incorporated volunteering in a leadership program for women: ‘Hydro Women Leading into the Future’. This program was developed to redress gender imbalance and empower and encourage women towards leadership – particularly younger women. Amongst many other partnerships, Hydro have also joined The Smith Family’s Career Mentor program, where Hydro volunteers guide final year tertiary students to transition into work, noting that Tasmania needs young people to stay in the State and have jobs in regional locations.

MyState Bank

The MyState ‘Hands On’ volunteering program offers staff one paid leave day annually where they are encouraged to give back to their local community. The program has been in existence since approximately 2001, and in the past few years they have refined their approach to maximise flexibility for staff, and to provide them with targeted volunteering opportunities.

MyState employees are deeply passionate about the community and have the resources that have the potential to create significant social impact. The power of helping others contributes to staff’s mental and physical wellbeing in a positive way; there is a feeling of pride and achievement within staff who participate.

MyState’s relationship with business partners and community organisations has also been strengthened. Volunteering communications are at the forefront of staff engagement, with their newsletter, intranet and word of mouth spreading the positive message of volunteering. MyState encourage staff to provide feedback and leads for alternative volunteering opportunities. Staff can share their experiences and work together to support their local communities as a united front.


The Tenants’ Union of Tasmania

The Tenants’ Union of Tasmania is a specialist Community Legal Centre for residential tenants across the state, offering free services such as tenancy advice and support. Their aim is to secure the rights of all tenants by providing free legal advice, representation and education, as well as advocating for the improvement of tenants’ rights.

The volunteering program is comprised mostly of solicitors, law students and law graduates, who volunteer their time to staff the Telephone Advice Line, answering questions and giving advice without bias, prejudice or judgement, and maintaining client confidentiality at all times. Many of the callers who benefit from this volunteering program are in low income or disadvantaged groups who would struggle to gain any assistance without these volunteers tirelessly devoting their time and skills.

This program also gives law students and graduates an opportunity to be directly involved in the legal world and get a foot in the door in a supportive environment.

Volunteering Tasmania Corporate Award: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order) 2018-05-07T11:38:14+00:00

Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania Arts, Heritage and Tourism Award: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order)

Dallas Baker OAM – Friends of Deal Island Wildcare Inc

Over the years, Dallas and his wife Shirley have been caretakers on Deal Island three times, which lead to the formation of Friends of Deal Island Wildcare Inc.  A program of two working bees per year was commenced where the major tasks were the restoration and preservation of the lighthouse and station.

Involved with fundraising, planning teams, organising food supplies, managing travel arrangements and coordinating restorative work on the heritage buildings. He has managed the last two bees in Nov. 2017 and Feb. 2018. He continues to plan future working bees, funds permitting.

Dallas is well recognised for his contribution and energy to inspire volunteers to work on Deal Island.  He is never without team members. Dallas is a team player and always works to have “new” faces on the bees.  Dallas spent three years on the Board of Wildcare and one year on the board of Volunteering Tasmania learning and contributing in areas of his expertise.  Dallas has also contributed time and effort to Maatsuyker and Tasman Island working bees. He continues to make a difference.


Trevor Clark – President, Exeter Show Society

Trevor Clark has been a member of the Exeter Show Society for thirty years.  For the last twenty years he has served as the President. Trevor leads a membership of thirty keen volunteers to maintain the grounds and buildings for use by Community Organisations, Sporting Groups and the general community.

Trevor chairs the monthly meetings of the Exeter Show Society and encourages all members to participate in discussion and decision making. He manages and oversees the workings of the annual Exeter Show, which is a huge task. Trevor lives and breathes The Exeter Show Society.

He encourages everyone on the committee to work together and focus on a common outcome.  He leads by example and works so hard, yet always thanks and shows his appreciation to everyone for their help. He is always available to support the executive members of the committee, even on short notice, to meet with us, guide us and help solve any problems we may encounter in our roles.


Allan and Marg Leeson  – Cradle Coast Authority, Australian Masters Games, Cruise Ship guides

Allan and Marg have a wide range of volunteering experience behind them, for example, supporting the Cruise Ship guides by ensuring numbers are sustained, producing a newsletter and a guide book to assist in the training of new volunteers.

They also contributed significantly to the success of the  Australian Masters Games by helping the tourism industry prepare for the influx of visitors – by doing an accommodation supply and demand analysis across the North West and West coasts and developing a restaurant guide.  These tasks took significant collaboration and leadership and the region was increasingly united as a consequence.

The time and passion that Allan and Marg freely give to support visitors, tourism and the local industry, is truly inspirational. They act as mentors to many “millennials” and constantly demonstrate what it means to be a leader and what it means to give back to your community.

Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania Arts, Heritage and Tourism Award: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order) 2018-05-07T11:03:06+00:00

Bulk Nutrients Sport and Recreation Award: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order)

Shane Askew – Co-ordinator, Burnie Surf Lifesaving Club

You could say that Surf Lifesaving has been Shane Askew’s life, having committed himself to a wide range of responsibilities within the organisation, from co-ordinating the Burnie Lifesaving Nippers to organising the Iron Man event for the Nippers. Through his enthusiasm, Shane has motivated other clubs to become involved.

Shane is an inspirational role model to the entire Burnie Surf Lifesaving Club community, but particularly to the children.Shane’s coaching program ensures that each child continues to progress their surf lifesaving skills with physical and mental challenges. Shane is an inspiration to parents by encouraging them to help with assistant coaching roles, providing the skills and knowledge required.

The flow on effect to the local community is that the children are confident and capable of assisting with surf rescues and educating the public about the dangers in the water essentially reducing events caused by rips. These kids will go on to patrol our beaches to keep the public safe for years to come.


Chris Dalton – Solemates

Chris started Sole Mates running group which has grown to 1550 members. He promotes inclusion, motivation and support for runners (new and old) by organising weekly runs in many areas at different times and locations. He actively encourages people to get involved and enjoy themselves. There is no pressure to be of a certain calibre, speed or experience. It is about connecting like-minded people to join running events, and he has created a great social environment where everyone feels included and valued as a member of the group.

He does not receive any compensation for the hours of event planning, daily Facebook site maintenance and responses, queries and member questions, uniform orders; processing and distributing.

By providing a free running group which is all inclusive (regardless of age, fitness or ability) he has connected so many people to allow them to achieve their goals and be supported along the way. From being Hobart based it has spread to other communities such as Burnie, Devonport and Launceston and it is growing all the time. Chris filled a need within our community and inspires so many of us to be more that what we think we can achieve.


David Searle – President, Baseball Tasmania

As president of Baseball Tasmania, David has been responsible for developing the League from a four-team League that very few people had heard of, to an eight team League that has had outstanding media coverage and support from schools, Government, Council and the local community.

David has contributed greatly to the strategic and commercial direction of the league by securing additional funding, garnering Council and Government support, putting into place future plans for a ground upgrade, and increasing media coverage.

Volunteering almost full time hours, David is an inspirational role model for players. He leads by example in the way he manages the League with patience and understanding. David’s passion has brought out the generosity in others with players and spectators inspired to volunteer their own time and expertise. It is this camaraderie that has built such a strong community and grown the league into something that everyone involved can be proud of.


The Tasmanian Volunteering Awards are an initiative of Volunteering Tasmania and are supported by the Department of Premier and Cabinet, our principal sponsor Southern Cross Television and our category sponsors. To read more about our sponsors click here.  To read about the Awards judging panels and judging process click here.

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Bulk Nutrients Sport and Recreation Award: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order) 2018-05-07T12:28:21+00:00

TasTAFE Education, Science and Technology Award: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order)

Fiona Armstrong – Tutor, Glenorchy LINC and 26TEN

Fiona tutors adult literacy students at Glenorchy LINC, one-on-one. She works with the LINC literacy coordinators to establish each student’s individual requirements for learning. As part of a team, she uses her initiative to complete tasks such as developing resources for volunteers and coordinators. Fiona’s outstanding contribution to her local community is that she helps people change their lives.

She builds confidence and literacy skills in those who thought they would never learn to read or write. Her students become more confident as learners, parents, carers, workers and contributors in the Glenorchy community. By believing in people, they believe in themselves she builds skills and confidence that has a ripple effect through families, friends, workplaces and our community.

Fiona’s passion for adult literacy and volunteering is infectious. “I really enjoy seeing people’s confidence soar when their literacy improves and they suddenly realise what they are capable of.” That’s why she is successful as a tutor, team mate, and role model who inspires others to take action on adult literacy, an issue that impacts all Tasmanians.


Leone Scrivener – Tutor, The University of the Third Age – Hobart

The University of the Third Age – Hobart Inc. (U3A) is a wholly self-funded entity formed in 1990 to provide daytime courses for seniors. It is staffed by U3A members who volunteer their time to ensure the smooth running of the organisation. Leone has been one of those volunteers for over twenty five years. As a tutor she prepares and delivers two popular courses, as a committee member she shares in providing the planning, running and wellbeing of the entire organisation which offers ongoing learning opportunities for over 650 senior members of the community. Leone creates a vibrant, learning community.

Now in her eighties, she remains an eloquent, confident and engaging communicator who encourages others to take on new challenges. She is a cheerful presence at U3A at all times, welcoming new members, ensuring more mature members are cared for, and, when necessary, remembered. She is a role model for all people who wish to remain an integral part of a rapidly changing world. Without the learning that Leone advocates and advances so passionately, older people will be left bereft of opportunity and involvement.


Ian Shaw – Adult Literacy/Learning Mentor, New Norfolk LINC and 26TEN Derwent Valley Action Group 

Ian Shaw is an Adult Literacy/Learning Mentor volunteer who volunteers at the New Norfolk LINC. Ian is passionate about the Derwent Valley community, and is involved in many local community groups and projects including chairing the 26TEN Derwent Valley Action Group. Ian shows leadership in this team through his commitment to representing the New Norfolk tutors and clients in the grant application process.

His vision for connecting with hard to reach families forms the basis of a grant application for a project officer to raise awareness in the Derwent Valley. Ian is the volunteer all organisations need, showing extraordinary commitment and going that ‘extra mile with a smile’. Ian is inspirational in that he represents the Adult Literacy program when he is out and about in the community. Ian takes his Adult Literacy tutor role seriously and goes beyond the ‘one on one’ literacy support.


The Tasmanian Volunteering Awards are an initiative of Volunteering Tasmania and are supported by the Department of Premier and Cabinet, our principal sponsor Southern Cross Television and our category sponsors. To read more about our sponsors click here.  To read about the Awards judging panels and judging process click here.

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TasTAFE Education, Science and Technology Award: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order) 2018-05-02T13:42:35+00:00

Anglicare Tasmania Community Care and Health Award: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order)

Campbell Remess – Project 365

Campbell was only nine years old when he asked to buy Christmas gifts for children in the Royal Hobart Hospital. He was told it would cost too much to buy gifts for all of those children, but instead of forgetting this idea he decided to make these gifts himself.

In the past five years, Campbell has made thousands of gifts that he sends to hospitals and children in need worldwide, but mostly the Royal Hobart Hospital Children’s Ward. Campbell has created his own charity, Project 365, where he gifts holidays on cruise ships to unsuspecting nominees who are battling cancer. These are called Kindness Cruises. In six months, Campbell has gifted eleven Kindness Cruises to families, raised in excess of $150k for charity, made thousands of handcrafted gifts, and sends teddy bears to victims of terrorist attacks and others in need.

Campbell is now fundraising to help to fund a research scholarship with the Menzies Centre in Hobart to have a hands-on researcher working with him and his Project 365 Family to achieve his goal of finding cures for cancers. Campbell takes his project very seriously and works tirelessly and selflessly.


Stephen Thiessen – Primrose Sands RSL sub-branch

The Primrose Sands RSL is the only Community focused organisation within a twenty two km circumference of this area. It provides a Courtesy Bus Service in order to assist the local community to attend its facilities and alleviate the social isolation of the more disabled and elderly members of our community.

Stephen Thiessen drives this bus totally on a volunteer basis at a minimum of twenty eight hours per week, sometimes more. In addition to this, Stephen also volunteers as the sub-branch groundsman for an additional eighteen hours a week. On top of all this, Stephen drives the Sorell Community Bus eight hours a week, also on a volunteer basis.

Several times per year Stephen has volunteered to provide transport to and from the city of Hobart for the purpose of taking members of this community to medical appointments and providing company for them during the sometimes long wait they have for interviews and treatment. Socially isolated members of the Primrose Sands and surrounding communities are the benefactors of Stephen’s kindness and goodwill; the RSL would not be able to provide some of these services to the community without his contributions.


Les Williams – Huntington’s Disease Association of Tasmania and many other Volunteer Involving Organisations

For Les Williams, 2018 marks 60 years of volunteering service across the Tasmanian community. Since becoming a volunteer in 1958 he has been an active participant in many organisations across the state. His volunteering roles have included youth worker, president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, fundraiser, and providing support and advocacy.  Organisations who have benefited from his amazing work include charities like Red Cross, the Heart Foundation, various care facilities, and many more.

Since joining the Huntington’s Disease Association Tasmania (HDTAS) in 1978, Les has become a champion for the cause, supporting families suffering from this terrible debilitating disease.  He has represented the organisation across many areas, including local, state, national and international at both government and organisation level.

Les is great at providing support, advocacy and awareness to the community. To achieve this, he has done numerous public talks across all areas of media and service groups. In addition to his longstanding devotion to volunteering, Les and his wife Lucy have willingly dedicated themselves to raising their twin granddaughters, one of whom has recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and Epilepsy.


The Tasmanian Volunteering Awards are an initiative of Volunteering Tasmania and are supported by the Department of Premier and Cabinet, our principal sponsor Southern Cross Television and our category sponsors. To read more about our sponsors click here.  To read about the Awards judging panels and judging process click here.

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Anglicare Tasmania Community Care and Health Award: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order) 2018-05-02T11:54:28+00:00

NRM South Environment, Animal Care and Conservation Award: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order)

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Norma Baker – Wildlife Carer, North East Tasmania

At eighty years of age Norma Baker works alone and has done for over fifty years. She has released many healthy wombats, wallabies, birds, lizards, bandicoots, platypus, Tasmanian devils, bettongs, tawny frogmouths, kookaburras and more, back into the wild during this time.

It is her passion, her life, her reason for being. Norma is inspirational to many, tourists and locals alike. People are now aware to look for joeys in the pouch of any road kill they come across. How to safely bring them to her door and to drag the dead animals off the road too, so that other animals are not killed. She is inspiring people to care and look after wild animals, to appreciate their place in our world.


Matt Dell – South West Coast Marine Debris Clean Up

For twenty years Matt has coordinated and kept alive the annual South West Coast Marine Debris clean up. The oceans, wildlife, and future generations of Tasmania are the beneficiaries of Matt’s work which involves unique and difficult expedition with a group of thirty people with five fishing boats.

Over the years dozens of tons of plastic waste and other debris have been removed from the South West Coast. Whilst businesses and individual polluters horrify many of us, people like Matt Dell inspire.


Michelle Jesson – North East Animal Sanctuary

Michelle established and runs the North East Animal Sanctuary Tasmania, the only sanctuary of its sort in the North East of Tasmania. She is responsible for the day to day running and care of the majority of the animals in the sanctuary. By creating this sanctuary Michelle has ensured that people can do the right thing and adopt neutered, microchipped pets or surrender unwanted pets.

By creating the sanctuary, Michelle has personally aided hundreds of people in not only finding their perfect pet, but has also created a safe non-judgmental space for people to surrender their pets/unwanted animals. She has also commenced an education program, encouraging owners to neuter, microchip and vaccinate their pets and has bought together people in the community, uniting them in their love of animals and passion about animal welfare. The sanctuary may have only been established for two years but Michelle has already created something for the Dorset community to be proud of.


The Tasmanian Volunteering Awards are an initiative of Volunteering Tasmania and are supported by the Department of Premier and Cabinet, our principal sponsor Southern Cross Television and our category sponsors. To read more about our sponsors click here.  To read about the Awards judging panels and judging process click here.

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NRM South Environment, Animal Care and Conservation Award: 2018 Finalists (in alphabetical order) 2018-05-02T13:19:09+00:00