Volunteers from Glen Alpine, Long Point, Wattle Grove and Mount Annan were recognised for their outstanding contribution at the 10th Annual Volunteer of the Year Awards in Campbelltown today.

The top award went to Sandra McDonald of Long Point who received both the overall 2016 Sydney South West / Macarthur Volunteer of the Year Award and the Senior Volunteer of the Year Award for her work with The Beautiful Minds Community Committee.

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.

Ms McDonald is a founding member of the Beautiful Minds Committee which she started 12 years ago to help bring joy and dignity to people living with mental illness, Ms Rygate said.

“Sandra is passionate about acute Mental Health Units – often forgotten, under-resourced places at the back of general hospitals,” Ms Rygate said.

“Sandra has worked with staff the Acute Mental Health Unit at Campbelltown Hospital on a beautification project where her team asked the staff to create a wish list that they then set about fulfilling.

“Sandra and her Beautiful Minds team have done their utmost to fulfil that list – creating a community garden, putting music into outdoor spaces, establishing a story telling workshop, purchasing decent clothes for patients – they have made all of these wishes come true.

“Sandra has reached for creative fund raising solutions – organising a Mad Hatters Dinner Party for 200, establishing the annual Waratah Day and selling these blooms at more than 20 points of sale across the Macarthur region.

The Winners of the 2016 Sydney South West / Macarthur NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are:

Award Category Winner
Overall Winner

Volunteer of the Year

Sandra McDonald, Beautiful Minds Community Committee
Student Volunteer of the Year Andrew Lockett and Zachary Moore, Groovers, (Lifegate)

Wattle Grove

Adult Volunteer of the Year

(25 – 64 years)

Stephen Cantrill, Campbelltown Colleagians Cricket Club

Glen Alpine

Senior Volunteer of the Year

(65+ years)

Sandra McDonald, Beautiful Minds Community Committee, Long Point
Volunteer Team of the Year Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living

Mount Annan

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 1400 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.