The 2020 NSW Volunteer Team of the Year has been awarded to joint winners for the first time in the Award’s history.

The Foodbank NSW & ACT Distribution Centre volunteers and the Mid-South Coast Wires volunteers took out the award, signifying the remarkable work of both teams during an unprecedented year of volunteering.

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.

WIRES Mid-South Coast Branch volunteers

The 2019/2020 summer bushfires had a devastating impact on wildlife and unfortunately the large coastal stretch of land from the Eurobodalla down to Tilba in the south was not spared.

The 97 volunteer team members from the Mid-South Coast Wires Branch gave their all during this period. They gave their land and lounge rooms to help care for sick and injured animals at a time when they so desperately needed care and assistance. They performed all sorts of rescues from wallabies, wombats, birds and snakes – all while their own homes and those of their friends and family were also under threat.

In all they completed more than 2,750 rescues from early 2019 to early 2020 – with a 60 percent increase over the bushfire period. The team also includes three trained volunteer shooters who take on the responsibility to humanely euthanize injured animals.

NSW Foodbank Distribution Centre Volunteers

The 230 team members from the Foodbank Distribution Centre Volunteers collectively perform a herculean task each week.

They help turn four million kilograms of rescued food into the equivalent of 400,000 meals each year for families throughout NSW. They have faced a huge increase in demand over the past 12 months, having provided 800 pallets of donations for bushfire impacted communities, 15,000 hampers for drought affected regions and another 15,000 vulnerable people restricted by COVID-19.

They sort, pack, and deliver a range of items showing adept logistical and coordination skills along while adhering to strict health and safety guidelines.

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 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.

“Whether they are donating their time and skills responding to natural disasters or coaching children’s sport, volunteers are part of the fabric of our communities.

“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.”