Volunteers who dedicate their time to activities ranging from supporting victims of crime through the justice system to a group who provide care to young people in the final days of their life have been honoured at the 2023 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards.
The gala ceremony celebrated the valuable contribution volunteers make to the state, including revealing Leanne Hillman as the overall winner of the 2023 NSW Volunteer of the Year Award.
For the past 15 years, Ms Hillman has been a volunteer with the Victims and Witnesses of Crime Court Support group helping people navigate the criminal justice system.
Minister with responsibility for Volunteering Jodie Harrison congratulated Ms Hillman on her win, noting: “Ms Hillman is the epitome of what volunteering is all about. As a volunteer Court Support Officer, she provides invaluable support to people who find themselves navigating quite stressful events.”
Ms Hillman helps clients understand court procedures and practices and accompanies them every step of the way from their first appearance until they complete their evidence. She has also been instrumental in expanding the service to more courts in the state.
Minister Harrison added: “Ms Hillman is one example of the impressive cohort of people represented at this year’s volunteer awards.
“Congratulations to all the winners and nominees. You have been recognised as heroes by the people in your communities who know you best.
“Thank you for your contributions which make NSW the best state to live and work in.”
There are 4.3 million volunteers, contributing close to 900 million hours, worth $178 billion to our State’s wellbeing.
The Awards are part of an annual program run by The Centre for Volunteering to recognise the outstanding work of volunteers in every region across NSW.
The Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said Ms Hillman was a remarkable volunteer with an enduring commitment to supporting people in need.
“The awards recognise volunteers from communities across every corner of NSW. Volunteers are the lifeblood of local communities, and we need to recognise their contributions and thank them for their work.”
The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards is in its 17th year and has grown to become one of the largest celebrations of volunteering in Australia. A record of 133,000 nominations were received for this year’s Awards.
The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards comprise of seven categories. The 2023 winners are:
- Volunteer of the Year and Senior Volunteer of the Year: Leanne Hillman from Glebe has been a Court Support Officer with the Victims and Witnesses of Crime Court since 2009.
- Young Volunteer of the Year: High School student Rebecca Ju from Roseville provides marketing, program management, administration, and leadership support for a range of youth, human rights, and sustainability programs.
- Adult Volunteer of the Year: Anthia Kollaras is a volunteer with the Waverley Woollahra SES for the past 14 years, working as a Team Leader, Rescue Officer and now as the Deputy Unit Commander for Operations.
- Volunteer Team of the Year: Bear Cottage Children’s Hospice Volunteer team in Manly provide a variety of supports to children and families referred there for respite or end-of-life care. The 111 volunteer team members range in age from 18 to 80 and provide help with administration, housekeeping, cooking, gardening, play, art and photography, dog walking and other services.
- Employee Volunteer of the Year: Built Construction team supporting the ReLove Warehouse organise inventory to resemble a department store. The 178 volunteers from Built guide clients experiencing hardship to select furniture and household items.
- Not-for-Profit Voluntary Governance Award: Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation Gold Committee Co-Chairs Linda and Joshua Penn are the Co-Chairs for the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation’s flagship event, the Gold Dinner. They lead a volunteer committee of 12 for one of Australia’s most prestigious and successful fundraising gala events.
- Volunteer Leader of the Year: Raise Foundation Volunteer Engagement Team support over 2,000 volunteer mentors who support young people who are at risk of poor wellbeing or disengagement at over 100 high schools across the metro and regional areas of NSW.