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

The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards is an annual program run by The Centre for Volunteering which has grown to become one of the largest celebrations of volunteering across the country.

Regional finalists for the awards are announced at 21 ceremonies throughout NSW and are invited to the Gala State Ceremony in Sydney for the announcement of the 2019 NSW Volunteer of the Year.

The 2019 NSW Volunteer of the Year Award recipients for the Illawarra region are:

Award CategoryAward Winner
Young Volunteer of the YearTegan Robertson, Surf Lifesaving NSW and Bellambi Surf Lifesaving Club, from Corrimal
Adult Volunteer of the YearCatherine Reed, Jarvis Bay Meals on Wheels, from Sanctuary Point
Senior Volunteer of the YearLily Gulati, Illawarra Older Women’s Network, from Balgownie
Volunteer Team of the YearSCARF Homework Help Volunteer Team
Illawarra NSW 2019 Volunteer of the Year Lily Gulati, Illawarra Older Women’s Network

The Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said volunteers from across the region had given so much to the local community.

“Your volunteers build connections for people in towns and communities across the region,” Ms Rygate said.

“They help to build such positive experiences and links to services across health, education and community sectors. Our ceremony today recognises their work and allows us to say thank you.”

Illawarra Volunteer Team winners SCARF Homework Help Team, Senior and Overall winner Lily Gulati, Young Volunteer for the Illawarra Tegan Robertson and Adult Award recipient Catherine Reed.

Tegan Robertson was selected as the 2019 NSW Young Volunteer of the Year for the Illawarra region for her outstanding contribution to surf safety and education, racking up an impressive 600 hours of volunteering on the beach over the past six years at the Bellambi Surf Life Saving Club.

Tegan has matched her support on the beaches with volunteering at the Wollongong and Bulli PCYC.

Catherine Reed was awarded the NSW 2019 Adult Volunteer of the Year for the region for her dedication over the past six years to helping people in the Jarvis Bay area access healthy home-cooked meals. Cathie sources produce, organises menus and prepares meals at the Jarvis Bay and District Meals on Wheels. One Centre wasn’t enough work for Cathie, and so she helped another smaller Centre join up and now the two are thriving, providing healthy meals to 85 clients in the region.

The Illawarra NSW 2019 Volunteer of the Year is Lily Gulati who has been the driving force behind the Illawarra Older Women’s Network for the past decade. Lily takes on any role to help the group provide a support network for older women, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Lily helps with wellness programs from drumming and yoga to dancing and gentle exercise. These programs are designed to help older female clients with a range of conditions from grief, loss, social isolation and anxiety, and depression.

The 2019 NSW Volunteer Team of the Year for the region is the SCARF Homework Help Volunteer Team. The 25-member team helps people from refugee background with tutoring and homework support as a way to build education skills, confidence and to become a welcome part of their new home.

The team helps up to 70 students each year with English skills, but also more complex topics like chemistry and mathematics.

The 2019 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.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said volunteers made an enormous contribution to local communities.

“A vibrant volunteering sector leads to healthy and strong communities,” Mr Ward said.

“In NSW, volunteers contribute more than $5 billion to the economy each year and their social contribution is even greater. The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are a fitting way to say thank you.”

ClubsNSW CEO Anthony Ball said that volunteers were the backbone of licensed clubs across the state, so it was a natural fit for the industry to support such an important program.

“The calibre of our local volunteers never ceases to amaze me, and I’m proud to represent an industry in which around 32,000 volunteers help to make clubs such great places,” Mr Ball said.

“I congratulate all the volunteers who were recognised at today’s ceremony for their dedication and commitment.”