Volunteers are the backbone and the soul of rural and regional communities. This afternoon we came together to say thanks to our amazing volunteers in the Central West at the regional ceremony for the 2021 NSW Volunteer of the Year awards. And it was a big afternoon for the St John Ambulance Molong Cadet Division, which has grown to be one of the biggest in NSW in despite the tiny size of the community.

Congratulations to the award winners Julie Dean, Jazmin and Jade Kirk – who volunteer for the Molong cadets. Congratulations also to the volunteer team at Bathurst’s DCaf café, which started as a pilot in 2019 and is now stronger than ever.

The 2021 NSW Volunteer of the Year for the NSW Central West region is Julie Dean.

2021 NSW Volunteer of the Year Award recipients for the Central West region are: 

Senior Volunteer of the Year – Julie Dean from Molong 

Julie founded the St Johns Ambulance Molong Cadet Division in 1995. The former teacher aimed to set up a dedicated first aid training organisation, and youth group, that could also provide first aid services to volunteer organisations such as show societies, sporting clubs, pony clubs and rodeos. It is now one of the largest Cadet Divisions in NSW. Julie has acquired credentials in 86 different courses and volunteered 6,426 hours to St John Ambulance. She is also Secretary of GrowMolong.

Young Volunteer of the Year- Jazmin Pietrzak from Molong

Jazmin, 15, joined Molong Cadet Division in 2018. The aspiring paramedic was awarded the 2020 Cadet of the Year in recognition of her outstanding work within Molong and the Cabonne local government area. She recently travelled to Parkes with a small group of Cadets and demonstrated how to do CPR to local Meals on Wheels volunteers.

Adult Volunteer of the Year- Jade Kirk from Molong

Jade joined Molong Cadet Division in 2010 and now organises the training program for the Molong cadets. The next nearest Cadet Division is in Broken Hill, which means Jade does not have other people to bounce ideas off. Instead, she has used her computer skills to communicate with people around the State to find and develop the right training strategies and material for the Molong cadets.

Volunteer Team of the Year – DCaf (Dementia Cafe) Team – Neighbourhood Centre Bathurst

DCaf, started as a pilot in August 2019 as a place for people with dementia and their families to meet and interact in a supportive environment.  Volunteers share their time for two hours a week, chatting over morning tea, leading activities such as yoga, and building rapport and friendships with clients. During COVID lockdowns DCaf continued via a video group call to keep people connected.

Regional finalists for the awards are announced at 25 ceremonies throughout NSW and are invited to the Gala State Ceremony for the announcement of the 2021 NSW Volunteer of the Year.

Thank you to Aon Insurance, the Regional Award Sponsor for the Central West ceremony.

The 2021 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.