Volunteers from the Far West were recognised for their outstanding contribution at the 10th Annual Volunteer of the Year Awards in Broken Hill today.

The top award went to Susan Thomas of Broken Hill who received both the overall 2016 Far West Volunteer of the Year Award and the Adult Volunteer of the Year Award for her work with The Broken Hill Art Exchange Inc.

Chief Executive Officer of The Centre for Volunteering, Gemma Rygate, said volunteers improve people’s lives by helping out, keeping people connected and creating a sense of belonging in communities.

“This year The Centre for Volunteering received a record number of nominations: More than 7,500 nominations covering more than 100,000 volunteers – a record number since the awards began 10 years ago,” Ms Rygate said.

“Volunteering is in the DNA of Australians: In NSW more than 2.3 million people volunteer – if volunteering were an industry it would employ more people than any other sector including mining and tourism,” Ms Rygate said.

“Susan started the Broken Hill Art Exchange in 2001 and over the last 15 years it has grown into a major cultural force not only in Broken Hill and surrounds – it has become an international artistic portal,” Ms Rygate said.

“Susan’s passion for both Broken Hill and the arts has seen her nurture Art Exchange into a trans-disciplinary international artistic residency, hosting hundreds of artists, exhibitions, projects and researches,” Ms Rygate said

“Susan has helped launch the works of professional and emerging artists and she has imaginatively involved the local community in the various projects the Exchange undertakes,” Ms Rygate said.

“For example this year’s Desert Equinox competition, saw works displayed not only in art galleries but also in shop windows and even in people’s front yards.

“Her contribution to the cultural, economic and social lives of the Broken Hill community and the many artists she has championed through dozens of programs, exchanges, exhibitions and festivals is incalculable,” Ms Rygate said.

The Winners of the 2016 Far West NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are:

Award Category Winner
Overall Winner

Volunteer of the Year

Susan Thomas, Broken Hill Art Exchange
Special/Honourable mention Carrie Oakley, nominated by the Far West Local Health District.

Cheryl Meuret, Far West Local Health District

Adult Volunteer of the Year

(25 – 64 years)

Susan Thomas, Broken Hill Art Exchange
Senior Volunteer of the Year

(65+ years)

Lesley Sumsion, Dementia/Delirium Palliative Care Team
Volunteer Team of the Year Broken Hill Hospital Kiosk Auxiliary

The Minister responsible for volunteering, John Ajaka, said the awards are an important way of recognising the vibrant contribution individual volunteers make towards strengthening communities across NSW.

“Our incredible volunteers make NSW the beautiful and rewarding place it is to live and work,” Mr Ajaka said.

“Central to volunteer satisfaction is meaningful recognition of the vital and diverse contribution of volunteers.”

Twenty regional Volunteer of the Year Award ceremonies are being held around the state.

All regional winners will be in the running for the overall NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards, which are announced at a gala event in Sydney on Friday December 2, in the lead up to International Volunteer Day.

The Volunteer of the Year Awards are generously supported by principal partners the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, and ClubsNSW, the industry body which represents the states 1400 not-for-profit clubs, as well as Bupa Aged Care.


The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards is an annual program run by The Centre for Volunteering to recognise the outstanding work of volunteers in every region across NSW. Twenty award ceremonies are held across NSW from August to October where nominees are recognised with certificates and winners announced.

Regional winners will be entered into the overall State 2016 Volunteer of the Year.