When 17 year-old Tegan Butts from Newcastle joins 150 finalists at the 2015 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards in Sydney on Friday, it will symbolise how far she has come in four years.

Despite experiencing family violence and homelessness at age 13, Tegan continued going to school and began volunteering with St John Ambulance NSW to help achieve her goal of becoming a paramedic.

Tegan is in the running for the State title for 2015 Student Volunteer of the Year and overall NSW Volunteer of the Year, after being crowned regional winner of the Hunter Volunteer of the Year Awards.

The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are run by The Centre for Volunteering – the State’s peak body for volunteering – to highlight the contribution 2.1 million volunteers make in NSW.

Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said Tegan’s personal and volunteering achievements were remarkable and showed the two-way benefits of volunteering.

“Volunteering opens doors – for others in need and for volunteers themselves,” Ms Rygate said.

“Tegan is impressive and by volunteering she is not only helping the community, she is also gaining valuable skills and experience that will enhance her job prospects.”

Tegan, who is in Year 11 at high school, also volunteers for the White Ribbon campaign against domestic violence, the Samaritans, the SHINE program for disadvantaged youth and is a volunteer netball coach.

Recent ABS data shows that while volunteering in Australia has fallen by 5% over four years due to time pressures, teenagers volunteer more than other age groups with 42% of teens aged 15 -17 volunteering.

The NSW 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 state’s 1400 not-for-profit clubs, as well as Bupa Aged Care.

Winners will be announced in the following categories:

Overall Winner  NSW 2015 Volunteer of the Year Volunteer Team of the Year
Student Volunteer of the Year Excellence in Volunteer Management
Youth Volunteer of the Year Corporate Volunteer of the Year (Individual)
Adult Volunteer of the Year Corporate Volunteer Team of the Year
Senior Volunteer of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award

NSW Minister for Multiculturalism Mr John Ajaka, who is responsible for volunteering, said the awards were an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the great achievements of outstanding people in our communities.

“The NSW Government is proud to be a founding partner and principal sponsor for these awards because it recognises the importance of volunteering to individuals and communities across NSW.

“Volunteers in NSW provide more than 240 million hours of support each year, conservatively valued at $5 billion. This incredible effort cannot be understated. I congratulate the winners and nominees and I applaud the wonderful example of volunteering they represent,” Mr Ajaka said.

ClubsNSW CEO Anthony Ball said the industry was proud to sponsor the Awards Program in order to help recognise volunteers across the state.

“With almost 50,000 volunteers engaged in our industry, clubs across NSW know how vital and valuable volunteers are to their activities and operations,” he said.

“We appreciate the inspirational role volunteers play in our communities to help others.

“These Awards are an opportunity to put a spotlight on our volunteers and say thank you.”

Download a copy of the Media Release –Tegan vies for NSW Volunteer of the Year Award 2015