The 2023 NSW Volunteer of the Year award celebrations shines a spotlight on the incredible and tireless work of volunteers across Sydney’s North Shore today. We were honoured and humbled to meet the many local volunteers at the Kirribilli Club who keep giving their time for so many valuable causes.
A special congratulations to our North Shore Volunteer of the Year Gig Buddies friend Emma Cocking and our other award winners Lifeline Crisis Support volunteer Sue Swanson, Joke Klein-van Exel from Bear Cottage hospice and the tutoring team from the TAFE NSW Adult Migrant English Program.
Regional finalists for the awards are announced at 23 ceremonies throughout NSW and are invited to the Gala State Ceremony for the announcement of the 2023 NSW Volunteer of the Year. The 2023 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 1,100 not-for-profit clubs.
2023 NSW Volunteer of the Year Award recipients for the North Shore region
“Volunteers from across the North Shore give their time and energy to help make their local community a better place. They help build healthy and well-connected communities across the region. Their tireless work helps support people across health, education, sporting and community sectors. Our awards recognise their work and give us the chance to say thank you.”Gemma Rygate, CEO for The Centre for Volunteering
Young Volunteer of the Year – Emma Cocking
University student Emma Cocking has been volunteering at Gig Buddies for more than two years, supporting people with a learning difficulty to go out to live music and other fun activities. She catches up with her gig buddy each month at activities such as musicals, theatre, bars, live music and comedy nights, as well as encouraging her with her acting career by attending short film festivals. Her volunteering helps to tackle social isolation, foster genuine friendships, independence and building confidence for people with a learning difficulty.
Since Emma has been paired with her Gig Buddy she has empowered her try new things , enhanced her social skills , overall confidence and assisted her to learn new public transport routes to support her with her independence. Emma is committed to her volunteer role and manages it during her university studies, work and personal life.
Adult Volunteer of the Year – Sue Swanson
Sue has been a dedicated Lifeline Crisis Support provides vital support to callers as well as developing and supporting new volunteers. As a volunteer Lifeline National Crisis phone operator, she takes calls from people who are struggling with a wide variety of issues including grief and loss, domestic violence, substance abuse, trauma, depression, anxiety, and suicide. She offers care and support to the callers. Sue has a special focus as National ISS (In Shift Superviors) supporting Crisis Supporter’s well-being when they start and finish their shifts through difficult call debriefs.
She’s also a keen mentor to new volunteers, ensuring they have the right support and advice.
Senior Volunteer of the Year – Joke Klein-van Exel
Joke has been a volunteer at Bear Cottage for six years where she has provided non-clinical support in areas such as administration, housekeeping, in the kitchen, in the garden, with play, art and music therapy, transporting patients, therapy dog walking, biography writing and at offsite community events. She attends the children’s hospice once a week, also volunteering for additional family support activities such as weekend retreats and Remembering Days for bereaved families, to fun days out with family.
Joke has a calmness and kindness that allows her to engage with everyone – babies, young children and 90-year-olds. She has a presence and energy that is both supportive and empathetic. These attributes are particularly important when it comes to our bereavement programs. Joke has spent many hours sitting with families who have lost children. She realises that she cannot fix or take away their pain, but that having someone they can talk to has a value that is immeasurable.
Volunteer Team of the Year – TAFE NSW Adult Migrant English Program, Volunteer Tutor Team
The 420 volunteer team members at the TAFE NSW Adult Migrant English Program support newly arrived migrant and refugees with their new English skills. They provide lessons for one hour a week with language skills to support the student with transport, shopping or medical appointments as they settle into their new life in Australia. The impact of the volunteer English support is often life changing. Meeting for on a one to one basis for one hour each week often builds a connection and friendship between the tutor and student. Volunteer Tutors build confidence in AMEP students that can assist them to complete their English studies or gain employment. Most importantly, Volunteer Tutors connect migrants and refugees to our communities and assist in setting up a pathway of settlement in Australia.
Finalists for the awards are announced at 25 Volunteer of the Year regional award ceremonies throughout NSW and are invited to the Gala State Ceremony for the announcement of the 2023 NSW Volunteer of the Year.
The 2023 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.