NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer Kim Hill has been honoured as the 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year for her courageous and dedicated support for bushfire impacted communities in the Macarthur and Southern Highlands regions.
The 43-year-old volunteer, mother and health and well-being specialist has been volunteering since she was 14 and was chosen from more than 100,000 nominees for the awards across 25 regions in NSW.
Kim established and led the Balmoral Village Recovery Hub during and after the 2019-2020 Green Wattle Creek Bushfire.
Twelve shipping containers worth of food, clothing and other items were donated to the local community after the fires. Kim helped manage and distribute the items for many months after the fires as well as providing access and referrals to other support and services.
The recognition comes 12 months after the fire jumped containment lines and continued to ravage more than a quarter of a million hectares of bushland, impacting communities throughout the region.
The fire claimed the lives RFS volunteer firefighters Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer.
Kim helped raise more than $200,000 towards a memorial playground in honour of the two firefighting volunteers, which is due to be officially opened this weekend.
The award was announced at a virtual ceremony for the 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards today in front of more than 400 special guests, volunteers and their families, and representatives of volunteering organisations from across the state.
The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are an annual program run by The Centre for Volunteering to recognise the outstanding work of volunteers in every region across NSW.
The awards are in their 14th year and have grown to become one of the largest celebrations of volunteering across Australia.
The 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are supported by principal partners the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and ClubsNSW, which represents the state’s 1,400 not-for-profit clubs.
The Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said:
“The past 12 months have thrown up challenge after challenge for communities across the state and volunteers have continued to give their all in the face of this tremendous adversity.
“These awards are our way of saying thank you and reminding everyone across the state of the value of volunteering.
“Congratulations to our awards winners announced today and thank you to all our finalists, nominees and the volunteering community across NSW.”
NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said:
“Kim Hill served on the frontline during the bushfires while her own house came under threat and was the glue that held her community together during the incredibly challenging weeks and months that followed.
“Kim epitomises the selfless community spirit that shone bright throughout last year’s unprecedented bushfire season and is a very deserving recipient of this year’s Volunteer of the Year award.
“There has never been a more fitting time to recognise the enormous sacrifice our volunteers make, and no better opportunity to say thank you for the work they do.”
ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis said:
“Without volunteers, registered clubs wouldn’t be able to accomplish all the wonderful things that they do for their local communities, so it’s a natural fit for our industry to support this incredible program.
“Well done to all the volunteers who were recognised at today’s ceremony for their extraordinary work. These people have continued to donate their time and effort to support others, despite the challenges of bushfires, drought, floods and COVID-19.
“I’m proud to represent an industry where 32,000 volunteers help to make clubs such great places.”