25 August, 2017


Volunteers from the Sydney Mid-West region were recognised for their outstanding contribution at the Annual Volunteer of the Year Awards in Parramatta today.

The top award went to Isaac Kuruvilla of Melrose Park who received both the overall 2017 Sydney Mid-West region Volunteer of the Year Award and the Adult Award for his work with the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

“Isaac describes himself as the volunteer who came for a month but never left – and 20 years later he is still delighting the young patients in Sydney Children’s Hospital, Westmead with his magic tricks,” said Gemma Rygate, the CEO of The Centre for Volunteering.

“Children queue up outside the Starlight Express Room when Isaac is in session waiting for him to magic them to a medical free haven as he delights and distracts them from their pain,” Ms Rygate said.

Isaac also visits kids on the wards who are too ill to move, making it his mission to transform their day into a positive experience.

“The Volunteer of the Year Awards recognise the nation working hard at a grassroots level to deliver resilient and compassionate communities,” said Ms Rygate.

“This year there has been a record number of nominations for the Volunteer of the Year Awards, with almost 110,000 volunteers recognised across all categories,” Ms Rygate said.

“Volunteering is a mutual gift, delivering rewards to both the giver and the receiver. Volunteering contributes $290 billion to Australia’s economic and social good,” Ms Rygate said.

Award Category Winner
Overall Winner
Volunteer of the Year
Isaac Kuruvilla
(Melrose Park)
Youth Volunteer of the Year
(up to 24 years)
Arun Sharma
Adult Volunteer of the Year
(25 – 64 years)
Isaac Kuruvilla
Senior Volunteer of the Year
(65+ years)
Chris Burgess
Volunteer Team of the Year The Social Enterprise Volunteer Team
(North Ryde)

The Minister responsible for volunteering, Ray Williams, said the awards are an important opportunity to celebrate the contribution of local volunteers.

“The efforts of volunteers here today have, no doubt, greatly improved the lives of Sydney Mid-West regions’ residents. The NSW Government acknowledges and thanks all volunteers for their valuable contributions and commitment to creating inclusive communities.”

“People who volunteer are often happier, healthier and more connected to their communities,” Mr Williams said.

ClubsNSW CEO Anthony Ball said the club industry was pleased to be Principal Corporate Partner of the 11th Annual Volunteer of the Year Awards. On behalf of 1300 member clubs, ClubsNSW recognises and acknowledges the valuable efforts of the 2.4 million volunteers in NSW.

“Clubs across NSW generate over 40,000 volunteers in the club industry who dedicate more than a million hours of their time per year- we are incredibly grateful for their enormous contribution in building and strengthening our local communities.”

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

All regional winners are in the running for the overall NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards, which will be announced at a gala event in Sydney in December.

The Volunteer of the Year Awards are generously supported by principal partners, the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, and ClubsNSW. Other sponsors are Bupa Aged Care and Thrifty Car Rentals.

The photos can be found here.