Volunteers from across the Illawarra region were today recognised for their outstanding contribution to volunteering in NSW, at a special ceremony in Wollongong.

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 Illawarra region are:

Award Category Winner
Young Volunteer of the Year Rianna Le, Camp Quality

from Dapto

Adult Volunteer of the Year Nicki Bowman, Dress for Success Illawarra

from Wollongong

Senior Volunteer of the Year
Audrey Walsh, Illawarra Cancer Carers

from Fairy Meadow

Volunteer Team of the Year Port Kembla Branch United Hospital Auxilliaries, Port Kembla Hospital

from Warrawong

Overall Regional Winner Nicki Bowman, Dress for Success Illawarra

from Wollongong

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.”

Rianna Le was selected as the region’s NSW 2018 Young Volunteer of the Year for her dedicated volunteering for Camp Quality, the autism-specific service provider ASPECT, Catholic Care’s Sibling Support Program and the University of Wollongong’s Learning Labs Program. Rianna balances her busy volunteering schedule with her teaching studies at university.

Nicki Bowman is this year’s NSW Adult Volunteer of the Year and the overall NSW 2018 Volunteer of the Yearfor the Illawarra region for her tireless work over the past four years to establish Dress for Success Illawarra – a service that support vulnerable women in the region.

Nicki sources funding, establishes relationships with referral agencies, encourages clothing donations, recruits volunteers and finds suitable and affordable accommodation for clients. Since she established the Illawarra branch, it has helped more than 100 women.

Audrey Walsh was selected as the NSW 2018 Senior Volunteer of the Year for the Illawarra for her amazing work for the past 25 years with the Illawarra Cancer Carers.

The 11 volunteer team members from the Port Kembla Branch United Auxiliaries Cares at Port Kembla Hospital was selected as the NSW 2018 Volunteer Team of the Year for the region. The team has helped raise over $1 million for patient care over the past 50 years.

The 2018 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are 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 ceremony can be viewed 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.