2013 NSW Volunteer of the Year: Mr Kenneth Bolt of Northern Rivers Region

Mr Kenneth Bolt is The 2013 NSW Volunteer of the Year for his outstanding contribution to the community.

Kenneth has been volunteering as a community transport volunteer driver at the Tweeds Byron and Ballina Community Transport Inc. (TBBCT) since its inception of the Aboriginal transport program over ten years ago. In this time he has completed approximately 3,500 trips, driving frail and extremely sick people nearly 150,000 kilometres.

Mr Bolt drives patients to their renal dialysis treatment 3 days per week using his own vehicle or using a service owned community car. His passengers are frail and have chronic disease. He picks passengers up from their homes, assists them to mobilise to the car, and then brings them to the renal unit at Ballina or Lismore base hospital. He drives approx. 100 kms each day to and from isolated communities, in the greater Ballina area and either Ballina or Lismore base hospital. There is often a wait of 4-6 hours for the treatment, and Mr Bolt then assists them from the treatment unit back to their homes irrespective of distance.

For more - click here for his expanded-biography

Kenneth is a community transport volunteer driver. He drives patients to their renal dialysis treatment 3 days per week using his own vehicle or using a service owned community car. His passengers are frail and have chronic disease. He picks passengers up from their homes, assists them to mobilise to the car, and then brings them to the renal unit at Ballina or Lismore base hospital. He drives approx. 100 kms each day to and from isolated communities, in the greater Ballina area and either Ballina or Lismore base hospital. There is a wait of 4-6 hours for the treatment, and Kenneth then assists them from the unit, and drives them to their homes. Kenneth also assists with volunteer medical transport and other programs for transport disadvantaged people coordinated by the Ballina office of TBBCT. Kenneth is a very special volunteer  he is a proud Aboriginal man of the Bundjalung nation, assisting people in his community to get to their vital dialysis treatment.

Kenneth is very reliable and dependable, with a friendly and relaxed manner, he puts people at their ease, problem solves difficulties as they occur, and nothing puts him out.

Kenneth has worked as a volunteer since the inception of TBBCT’s Aboriginal transport program; i.e. for more than 10 years. In this time he has completed approx. 3,500 trips, driving frail and sick people nearly 150,000 kilometres. There has been many times where service users have cancelled at the door, because they are too unwell to travel. Ken takes this all in his stride without judgment, and does not complain. He will be there for the next trip or to help out in any way he can.

The numbers of passengers varies, and there is a high turnover due to the virulence of the disease. Ken takes all this in his stride, he is out there in all types of weather, sometimes caught in Northern Rivers weather events, seeing to his passengers’ safety and making sure they get to where they need to go.

2013 NSW Senior Volunteer of the Year – Dr Ralph Howard from Sydney’s North Region for his tireless work with injured and orphaned wildlife.

Dr Howard Ralph gives all his retired life to treating animals (wildlife) that few other vets will treat due to financial reasons. Howard NEVER rejects any wild creature in need and works tirelessly at great cost to his own health to treat suffering, injured and orphaned wildlife.

Howard works largely in Mona Vale and down the south/west NSW. He also has gone to Tasmania training wildlife rescuers and attended the Victorian bushfires, Queensland floods and cyclones treating wildlife and other animals in need of his immense skills and experience. Howard also trains many wildlife rescuers across NSW who have no one else to offer this type of training.

Howard has commanded great respect and admiration from all who meet him as he is like no other person you will ever meet. He has endless courage, selflessness, skills and commitment. Howard has devoted decades of his life to wildlife and no matter how exhausted or sad and overwhelmed he feels still continues to do all in his power to treat them. Without his expertise many thousands and thousands of animals would die and suffer horrible deaths from their injuries.

2013 Highly Commended NSW Senior Volunteer of the Year Award - Basil Turner of Illawarra Region for his work with the LinkAGE Program for the past eleven years.

Basil is a special person and deserves to receive recognition for his endless hours of volunteer work because of his personal drive in getting this project off the ground in the first instance and then in sticking with it despite the many hurdles he faced. Basil could see the value in helping older people with a hearing impairment  even though it is not a glamorous pursuit. He could feel the frustration of many who have hearing aids sitting idle in drawers because staff members are too busy or don’t know how to help the residents deal with keeping them functioning properly. And more importantly, Basil could see the bigger picture, by using the pilot project as a way of formulating a comprehensive plan that could be put in place in all other aged care facilities around NSW.

2013 NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year – Trent Thomas of the Sydney City/East Region

Trent Thomas has been who has been volunteering at Surf Life Saving NSW for ten years. Trent’s commitment and dedication to surf lifesaving across all levels of the organisation has proved himself a role model to other members of the organisation and the wider community.

Trent is a valuable member of SLSC (Surf Life Saving Club) who has shown his commitment and dedication to surf lifesaving across all levels of the organisation. He is a role model to other members of the organisation and the wider community. Trent has undertaken significant work through not only his specified roles across the organisation but through the extra work engaged in by Trent for the pursuit of a more successful and sustainable Surf Life Saving movement. Trent has contributed to five key areas of Surf Life Saving at various levels of the organisation. These five areas are; Administration, Education, Lifesaving, Member Development, and Organisational Development & Strategy.

Trent’s involvement is focused on the aims and objectives of the organisation. He is particularly focused on the provision of life saving services to the community in an accountable and sustainable fashion.

As part of a very active and experienced team at Maroubra, Trent has seen the areas of junior development flourish, retention rates of junior surf lifesavers improve, patrol strength and capability improve significantly, competition numbers of juniors and cadets grow, financial sustainability and accountability reformed, member services improved and club facilities improved.

2013 Highly Commended NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year Award – Shared by 2

Alexa Pelkowitz

2013 Highly Commended NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year – Alexa Pelkowitz – from the South Coast/Southern Inland region has been volunteering at Raising Hope Education Foundation for the past two years.

People often say “quality, not quantity”. With Alexa, you had both. In 2012, Alexa was elected as UN Youth ACT Vice-President for Education. Part of her portfolio is to organise school visits around the ACT and regional NSW. In the previous year, UN Youth ACT ran five school visits only within the ACT. Alexa ran 30 school visits in her term, each to an outstanding degree of quality. This is the highest number of school visits in the history of UN Youth ACT. It also saw expansion into regional NSW for the first time ever, in areas such as Yass, Crookwell and the Goulburn/Mulwaree region.

One of her biggest achievements was organising 11 school visits in three days with the Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations. There the Australian Youth Rep, Dan Ryan, was able to run hour long workshops with 1300 students from across the ACT and regional NSW. He collected statistics about issues youth were passionate and concerned about and shared these with the United Nations in New York.

Alexa helped organise the largest and most successful term of UN Youth ACT’s School Ambassadors’ Program (SAP) to date, a multi-week course dedicated to equipping students with the ability to run events in their own community on issues they are passionate about. Under her supervision, SAP is now available to more regional participation through Skype sessions. She also oversaw the development of the first ever conference for students in years 7 and 8.

Andrew Horne

2013 Highly Commended NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year – Andrew Horne – Illawarra Region

Andrew Horne’s passionate and hardworking nature is only the superficial layer of his volunteering persona. Andrew provides a wide array of skills to Cancer Council within his dedication to the cancer cause. An example of this dedication is evident in the time he has devoted to volunteer work with Cancer Council. Andrew has provided Cancer Council with 1246 Voluntary hours, which equates to 155 working days. His commitment extends far beyond these office hours. He has assisted with every Relay For Life he has had a part in organising. With many of these Relay’s being a significant distance from Wollongong, therefore requiring the extra dedication in regards to travelling. . The commitment to travel is not an issue for Andrew as he happily supports every Relay that he has assisted with.

2013 NSW Volunteer Team of the Year –Cootamundra Creative Arts and Cultural Centre Committee from the Riverina Region.

The eight volunteers that make up the Cootamundra Creative Arts and Cultural Centre Committee have been with the organisation since it was first created ten years ago. The team worked together to gain funding to build and establish a multi-purpose arts faculty for the Cootamundra Shire population. The Centre main focus is to allow the education, production, exhibition and performance of arts activity to the public as well as targeted audiences such as at risk youths, who are able to access comprehensive programs and workshops, while making use of the facilities within The Centre.

2013 Highly Commended NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards - Macarthur Zone Raft Brigade - Sydney South West/ Macarthur region.

The Macarthur Rural Fire Service Remote Area Fire Fighting Brigade (the Brigade) is a specialised team of highly qualified and skilled volunteer fire fighters. During the 2012/13 summer members of this Brigade volunteered well in excess of 1,500 hours to help protect NSW from the devastation caused by bushfires. Many hours were also spent on standby at airfields waiting for potential deployment. The Brigade is only deployed to bushfires that are in areas that are inaccessible to fire trucks. Generally these fires are located in very remote National Parks around NSW with the fires often started by lightning.

Volunteers will drive close to the fire in 4WD vehicles and finally access the fire on foot carrying all fire fighting equipment, food and drinking water. Alternatively, fire fighters and equipment can be deployed by helicopter. Generally dry fire fighting techniques are used to fight the fires. The main equipment being hand held racks and chainsaws which are used to manually construct fire breaks. If the Brigade has been deployed by helicopter then aerial water bucketing may be used in conjunction with manual fire break construction.

2013 NSW Corporate Volunteer of the Year – Dominic Lynch of Lend Lease

Dominic has been involved with the Property Industry Foundation (PIF) over the past 7 years and is incredibly passionate about supporting youth at risk. His involvement is supported by his manager at Lend Lease including time off to attend the various committee meetings and events.

The Property Industry Foundation was established in 1996, when industry leaders joined forces to help grass-roots charities that provide services to homeless and at risk youth. Their vision is to unite the entire national property and construction industry in an independent initiative to support community programs aimed at youth homelessness. https://www.pif.com.au

Dominic was a recipient of the PIF Award for Leadership in 2011 and has been actively involved in a number of PIF committees including:

  • Property Blitz Committee Member (2007-2013)
  • Board of Advisors (2010-2012)
  • Project Review Committee (2013 to date)
  • Western Sydney Chapter Committee Member (2013 to date)

Once of the major reasons Dominic deserves to be recognised for his volunteering is the depth and continuity of his involvement in assisting youth at risk. One of the main programs supported by PIF was conceptualised and brought to life by Dominic. Dominic devised The Property Blitz Street Sleepto give as many young professionals a real life experience of the issue of youth homelessness to raise awareness, raise funds, drive support for you at risk and to get young professionals involved. The inaugural Street Sleep has raised almost $100,000 for the Salvation Army, Open Family and Parramatta Mission. He was also instrumental in establishing a dollar-for-dollar matching commitment from the PIF Board of Directors for the funds raised by Property Blitz, PIF’s committee for young industry professionals.


Dominic’s volunteer work showcases the innovation and initiative that he has taken to develop awareness and funding for the causes he is passionate about!

2013 Highly Commended - NSW Corporate Volunteer of the Year - Ken Bellette

Ken Bellette has been a member of the Batemans Bay Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) since 2004 completing 329.5 hours in patrols and hundreds more in support, mentoring and training young members. Ken is also, a member of the club’s emergency callout team and as a key member of the callout team, he has responded to over 40 emergencies since 2008. As Ken is a self-employed builder, during emergency responses, he shuts down his entire construction site so his whole work crew, who are also club members, can respond 24/7.

Ken is currently the vice president of Batemans Bay SLSC and has worked very closely on securing local government approval for the redevelopment of their surf club.

Ken has shown his dedication to the SLSNSW emergency response network by ensuring that his construction sites have an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB), first aid equipment and radios on site so they can respond immediately to any request for assistance. The dedication Ken has shown has ensured the Far South Coast Branch maintains a very solid average response of just 12.1 minutes from the time of the initial call to the scene.

2013 NSW Corporate Team of the Year Award – Emerge Volunteer Mentor Team of ANZ

The ANZ Emerge Volunteer Mentor Team (EVMT) was made up of 13 middle level managers and team leaders from ANZ who volunteered, on average, more than 100 hrs each over 10 months to mentor 12 young adults with cerebral palsy. The program was called Emerge and was sponsored/supported by ANZ. It was a 12 month mentoring experience designed to develop the leadership abilities and work readiness skills of young adults with cerebral palsy.

Emerge is a skilled volunteering program where each member of the team shares their business skills and career experience with young people transitioning from school or tertiary education to the employment sector. Through the program the young adults, or mentees, gain immeasurable life skills, both professional and personal, which they can draw on as they progress through life.

Each fortnight, the EVMT met with their mentees after work. At each meeting, the volunteers worked through an assigned topic with their mentees. The purpose was to assess the skill level and then help the mentee reflect on their approach to various situations, and where needed, encourage alternate strategies or ways of thinking. The mentees had tasks to complete between each meeting. The EVMT would communicate with their mentees between the fortnightly sessions to ensure they were engaged, motivated and on track.

In addition to the regular meetings addressing individual concerns, the real and tangible difference the mentors made to the young adults with cerebral palsy came when they partnered with them on a project during the year. While working predominantly with their individual mentee, the team worked to achieve a successful outcome together. The challenge was to apply for a financial grant and put that money to use for the benefit of others. Through the encouragement of the EVMT, the mentees decided on an advocacy/inspirational video where each young adult reflected on a goal they had achieved in their lives despite some of the physical and attitudinal barriers presented by living with cerebral palsy. After successfully securing a $5,000 grant, they set out to create the video, write the script, find a production company and produce the film.

The outcome was a video called Believe Achieve which has now had in excess of 37,000 views on YouTube and has received an award from the Nova Short Film festival in Sydney. In addition to the video, the Emerge team created the Believe Achieve Initiative which is designed to inspire anyone, with or without a disability, to set themselves goals- big or small  and have the self-belief in their own ability to achieve the goals.

For more please see www.facebook.com/BelieveAchieve Initiative

To see the video: www.youtube.com/BelieveAchieve2013

2013 NSW Excellence in NFP Volunteer Management – Taronga Conservation Society Australia

Taronga Zoo has a large volunteer program with a variety of roles including:

  • Guest Services
  • Tour Guiding
  • Life Sciences (zoo keeping volunteers)
  • Administration
  • Bush Care
  • Project Volunteers

To support the large volunteer program, Taronga has a number of volunteer management and coordination staff including:

  • Volunteer Program Manager
  • Volunteer Program Coordinator
  • Volunteer Programs Administrative Assistant
  • Divisional Volunteer Coordinators

They have a comprehensive volunteer management program which includes:

  • Recruitment
  • Induction
  • Training
  • Support
  • Recognition

Due to the large numbers of interested volunteers Taronga receives, they have a structured volunteer management and coordination program which allows the volunteers to become part of the organisations teams which are more than just volunteer only groups. By having staff supervise volunteers day to day they can become a much more integrated part of the organisation. The introduction and expansion of short-term volunteering has also helped to expand their volunteer program as it allows their program more flexibility for interested volunteers. This is particularly beneficial in allowing them to benefit from short term skilled volunteers (eg, IT assistance) without needing to fit the volunteer into the mould of an ongoing program.

Taronga are also committed to the National Standards for Involving Volunteers in Not-For-Profit Organisations and have worked hard to comply in all the areas below:

  1. Policies and procedures
  2. Management responsibilities
  3. Recruitment
  4. Work and the workplace
  5. Training and development
  6. Service delivery
  7. Documentation
  8. Continuous improvement


Taronga is committed to involving the community in conservation and constantly growing their volunteers to be diverse and engaging and to be able to take away from the experience an understanding and enthusiasm for wildlife. Taronga feels that their volunteers are vital ambassadors for volunteering and wildlife in NSW as they involve their family and friends in their work with Taronga. Volunteers are given the opportunity to learn new skills, challenge themselves and contribute to a cause they feel passionate about. Taronga recognises that their volunteers are a vital link to engaging the wider NSW community with the importance of wildlife.