Volunteers from Byron Bay, Lennox Head and Yamba were recognised for their outstanding contribution at the 10th Annual Volunteer of the Year Awards in South Grafton today.

The top award went to David Steward of Byron Bay who received both the overall Northern Rivers 2016 Volunteer of the Year Award and the Adult Volunteer of the Year Award for his work with the Byron Community Centre.

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 acknowledging 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.

David is a mainstay of the Byron Community Centre – from back office support to front- of house ticketing and ushering duties at the Byron Theatre – David’s talents and enthusiasm are applied across a wide range of tasks, Ms Rygate said.

“Apart from his love of all things theatrical David also volunteers regularly at the so-called ‘Mug Stall’ at the Byron Markets, supporting its sustainability program, a reflection David’s environmental concerns and activism,” Ms Rygate said.

The Winners of the 2016 Northern Rivers NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are:

Award Category Winner
Overall Winner

Volunteer of the Year

David Steward

Byron Community Centre

Adult Volunteer of the Year

(25 – 64 years)

David Steward – Byron Community Centre

from Byron Bay

Senior Volunteer of the Year

(65+ years)

Doug Stinson – Cancer Council

from Lennox Head

Volunteer Team of the Year Maclean Lower Clarence United Hospital Auxiliary from Yamba

NSW Minister for Ageing, Disability, Services and Multiculturalism, the Hon John Ajaka, who is responsible for volunteering, said the awards are an important means of recognising the vibrant contribution individual volunteers make towards strengthening communities across NSW.

“When I talk to volunteers across the state, one of the things I hear is that meaningful recognition of the vital and diverse contribution of volunteers is central to volunteer satisfaction,” Minister Ajaka said.

“Sometimes that recognition is as modest as a morning tea or a simple thank you. At other times the approach is so innovative, or the impact so outstanding or significant, that a major act or recognition serves to not only recognise the individual contribution but also provides an example to the wider community of what a difference volunteering makes.”

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.

For?images from the ceremony visit the photo gallery


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.