Volunteers from Lake Tabourie, Towradgi, Thirroul, Port Kembla, Warrawong, Kiama and Jamberoo were recognised for their outstanding contribution at the 10th Annual Volunteer of the Year Awards in Wollongong today.

The top award went to Sharon Fulcher of Lake Tabourie who received both the overall 2016 Illawarra Volunteer of the Year Award and the Adult Volunteer of the Year Award for her work with The National Parks and Wildlife Service.

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.

Sharon Fulcher courtsey of National Parks and Wildlife Services NSW

Sharon Fulcher. Photo courtsey of National Parks and Wildlife Services NSW

Ms Fulcher has volunteered on numerous conservation and bush care programs with the National Parks and Wildlife Service for more than 25 years, Ms Rygate said.

“Sharon’s involvement with WildCount – a fauna monitoring program – has involved her hiking to remote locations, navigating difficult terrain in all sorts of weather to install and monitor motion sensitive cameras”, Ms Rygate said.

“Sharon has worked as a field assistant with PhD researchers, she has camped out for weeks in field sites in rugged terrain working on weed eradication projects and many other environmental campaigns.

“Sharon has contributed to environmental policy development including the Cooks RiverLife Project. She is a very worthy recipient of this award.”

The Winners of the 2016 Illawarra NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are:

Award Category Winner
Overall Winner

Volunteer of the Year

Sharon Fulcher

National Parks and Wildlife Service

Youth Volunteer of the Year
(up to 24 years)
Hannah McInerney

Jamberoo Rural Fire Brigade, Kiama

Student Volunteer of the Year Jake Beaumont

Thirroul Surf Life Saving Club, Thirroul

Adult Volunteer of the Year

(25 – 64 years)

Sharon Fulcher

National Parks and Wildlife Service

Senior Volunteer of the Year

(65+ years)

Colin McIntyre

TAD Disability Services, Towradgi

Volunteer Team of the Year Palliative Care Volunteers, Port Kembla Hospital

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 1,400 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.