Volunteers from across the State’s Central West were today recognised for their outstanding contribution to volunteering in NSW, at a special ceremony in Bathurst.

The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards is an annual event run by The Centre for Volunteering and is the biggest celebration of volunteering across the country.

The NSW 2018 Volunteer of the Year Award recipients for the Central West region are:

Award Category Winner
Young Volunteer of the Year Elise Dukes, Forbes Youth Action Team

from Forbes

Adult Volunteer of the Year Karlene Irwin, Pay It Forward Community Shed Orange

from  Orange

Senior Volunteer of the Year Anne Hopwood, FoodCare Orange

from Orange

Volunteer Team of the Year
The Neighbourhood Centre Driver Supervisor Team, The Neighbourhood Centre

from Bathurst

Overall Regional Winner Karlene Irwin, Pay It Forward Community Shed Orange

from Orange

The Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said volunteers from across the region have made an enormous contribution to the local community.

“Volunteers from across the area give their time helping in schools, hospitals, sports, the environment, and with so many community based organisations,” Ms Rygate said.

“They all give so much without asking for anything in return.

“It was so pleasing to recognise their outstanding efforts and also celebrate the special contribution of the volunteers chosen to represent the region in the State final of the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards.”

Three years ago, Karlene Irwin set up Pay it Forward Orange from her own garage as a way to provide basic but much required items and services for people in need. Since then her tireless volunteering efforts have helped hundreds of people – regardless of their circumstances.

Pay it Forward Orange has grown significantly and has endured the ups and down of being a self-funded community based organisation but still plays a pivotal role in the community – including helping to coordinate drought relief for the local farming community.

Karlene is a very worthy recipient of this year’s Adult Volunteer of the Year Award and the overall NSW Volunteer of the Year Award for the Central West region.

Elise Dukes was selected as the region’s NSW 2018 Young Volunteer of the Year for her role organising a number of event and activities for young people as well as her local hockey team and her school’s wellness community.

Anne Hopwood Senior Award winner

The NSW 2018 Senior Volunteer of the Year for the Central West Region Anne Hopwood has been volunteering with FoodCare Orange since it was established six years ago. She’s now president of the social enterprise, but still fronts up for her fortnightly shift to help provide healthy food for its customers.

The five volunteer team members from the Neighbourhood Centre Driver Supervisors was selected as the NSW 2018 Volunteer Team of the Year for the region. The team has helped many people of all ages who otherwise could not afford the driving lessons required to get their driver?s licence and the independence, confidence and maturity that comes from learning to drive in a safe environment.

The 2018 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards is supported by principal partners the Department of Family and Community Services NSW and ClubsNSW, which represents the state’s 1,400 not-for-profit clubs. They are also supported by Etchcraft and Thrifty Car & Truck Rentals.

NSW Minister responsible for Volunteering, the Hon. Ray Williams, said the state’s 2.1 million volunteers contributed more than $5 billion to the NSW economy every year.

“Nominating local volunteers for an award or a certificate is a special way of saying thank you,” Mr Williams said.

“The fact that so many nominations were received this year is recognition of the amazing effort of volunteers across NSW who help build stronger communities.”

ClubsNSW CEO Anthony Ball said that volunteers were the backbone of registered clubs across NSW.

“ClubsNSW is very proud to support the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards and every one of the amazing volunteers recognised today,” Mr Ball said.

“Clubs across NSW rely on 32,000 volunteers to help make their venues a vibrant and enjoyable experience,” Mr Ball said.

“They also contribute so much more to our wider community, adding billions of dollars to the NSW economy each year.”

Further photos of the event can be found here.

The Centre for Volunteering would like to thank the generosity of the following organisations for their ongoing support of the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards:


The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards is an annual program launched in 2007 by The Centre for Volunteering to recognise the outstanding efforts of the 2 million+ volunteers in NSW, and to promote the importance of volunteering to the community.  The Awards are a celebration of the amazing commitment and achievements volunteers make in our communities and a chance for us to come together to give our thanks. The Awards acknowledge the efforts of thousands of volunteers, volunteer managers, volunteer involving organisations and corporates in bringing about social change through volunteering.