Celebration of SA’s outstanding goodwill at state’s volunteer awards night

Last night was a celebration of the contribution of outstanding individuals groups, managers and businesses at the 2023 South Australian Volunteer Awards.

Image credit: Emily Bourke MLC, Nat Cook and Young SA volunteer of the year Sam Weavers

A mental health advocate, a collective of grandcarers, an SA energy powerhouse, a transformational team leader and a teenage entrepreneur raising funds for kids with cancer were celebrated for their outstanding volunteer efforts at the 2023 South Australian Volunteer Awards last night (Monday 15 May).

“Without volunteers, our communities would be very different places. They make an immeasurable contribution not only to our community, but also to our economy. They are the heart of so many communities we must never take them for granted,” Minister for Human Services Nat Cook says.

Kicking off National Volunteer Week, volunteers and volunteer advocates gathered at the Braggs Lecture Theatre at the University of Adelaide to recognise the contribution of outstanding individuals, community groups, managers and businesses across the state.

This year a new category – The Young Volunteer Award – recognised the inspiring efforts of young people aged 12-25 in our community.

The event was hosted by popular radio presenter Ali Clarke, with Minister for Human Services Nat Cook and Assistant Minister to the Premier Emily Bourke MLC presenting the awards.

Established by the State Government in 2005, the 2023 South Australian Volunteer Awards was presented in partnership with Volunteering SA&NT and Young Volunteer Award partner, the Youth Affairs Council of SA (YACSA).

“We live and breathe the stories of volunteers every day and it’s wonderful to witness the goodwill and appreciation that these awards foster,” Volunteering SA&NT Chief Executive Hamilton Calder says.

“Volunteering highlights how we all benefit by encouraging altruistic behaviours and particularly in our youth as our younger generation contribute to not just better outcomes for communities, but also our youth.”

An independent judging panel chaired by the Department of Human Services assessed the nominations. Judges considered nominees’ achievements in relation to their commitment, level of service and how their work benefited the South Australian community.

Collectively, South Australian volunteers contribute an estimated 1.7 million hours of unpaid work each year. The value of that unpaid labour is estimated at almost $5 billion.


Joy Noble Medal

South Australia’s highest distinction for an individual volunteer

Stella Braund – mental health and social justice advocate

Stella is a lived experience advocate at the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist who has served her community from an early age.

As a dedicated volunteer and champion of mental health and social justice issues – including as a Lifeline counsellor – Stella has made a significant contribution raising awareness of human rights, women’s safety, mental health and youth support services, to name a few.

Stella helped to establish the national domestic violence and sexual assault helpline 1800RESPECT. She brings lived experience of childhood domestic violence, sexual assault and trauma and has worked tirelessly to change attitudes, reform laws and pioneer change, particularly as a long term campaigner for health reform.

She is committed to advancing progressive social issues through governance and policymaking structures and provides advice to committees for SA Health across South Australia.

Her dedication to mental health was recognised earlier this year when was named Citizen of the Year 2023 by the Australia Day Council of South Australia.

The Young Volunteer Award

Recognising an impressive young volunteer The Young Volunteer Award is presented in partnership with Volunteering SA&NT and the Youth Affairs Council of SA (YACSA)

Samuel Weavers

Samuel Weavers started Sam’s Popcorn, an online popcorn business, when he was just 10 years old. While many kids might be kicking the footy around, Sam was making, selling and delivering popcorn to customers across South Australia.

As soon as he started making a profit, he was determined to use that money to help others facing challenges in his local community.

Sam’s grandmother was diagnosed with cancer so Sam was driven to help children in a similar situation. He developed an innovative fundraising program called Kids for Kids where schools, businesses, sporting clubs, networking groups, rotary clubs and other groups could sell Sam’s Popcorn Pails, with the profits going to the Childhood Cancer Association.

To date he has raised more than $25,000 for the organisation.

Sam volunteers presenting to classes, entire schools, businesses and networking groups to raise awareness about the work of the Childhood Cancer Association – in some cases to national and international audiences.

He has spoken to more than 10,000 people to date, sharing the importance of volunteering in their local community with a generation of children and young people.

‘The Andamooka’ Community Project Award

Recognising a community or group volunteer project of significant community benefit

Grandcarers SA Village Program, Grandcarers SA

Formerly known as Grandparents for Grandchildren SA (GFGSA), Grandcarers SA is a city-based NGO staffed primarily by volunteers. It provides evidence-based support and advocacy services to grandparent carers across SA who receive no ongoing assistance from government agencies and who often fail to meet the criteria for help from other NGOs.

The Grandcarers SA Village Program provides a central meeting point for grandcarers and aims to alleviate one of the most common causes of placement breakdown – social isolation – by connecting families with their community and culture and having a real and positive impact on carers and the future outcomes of the children in their care.

The program, named after the proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, is supported by a small, dedicated team of volunteers who have contributed about 3,000 hours per year since 2018.

There are now thirteen Grandcarers SA Villages, with about 500 grandparent-led families represented across South Australia.

The Excellence in Volunteer Management Award

Recognising a volunteer manager for their outstanding contribution to the profession The Excellence in Volunteer Management Award is presented in partnership with Volunteering SA&NT.

Erica Singh – Operations and Risk Manager, Community Care and Transport

Erica leads a small volunteer management team at Care in Motion, an organisation providing a Community Transport Network and Community Visitor Scheme. This is an essential service supporting thousands of disadvantaged people in regional communities and helping to prevent social isolation in older people.

In her role as Operations and Risk Manager, Erica empowers the 180 volunteers and 11 staff in her charge with the resources and support they need to achieve collective outcomes and consistently ensures that volunteering with the organisation is safe, inclusive, accessible and meaningful.

Regarded as a transformational leader who enables her people and organisation to consistently perform above industry benchmarks, Erica operates ethically and with humility, showing an inclusive and adaptive leadership style.

Erica is passionate about helping others stay independent and connected in their own homes. In the last financial year, she supported the Yorke Peninsula volunteer service to transport more than 2,000 clients.

The Premier’s Award for Corporate Social Responsibility

Recognising the community contribution of a South Australian for-profit business

SA Power Networks

SA Power Networks has a long and proud history of supporting the South Australian community through corporate partnerships, sponsorships, grants for local organisations, workplace giving and employee volunteering.

Contributing to the areas where staff live and work – including supporting community organisations and events – has led to a range of long-term partnerships.

It enjoys a particularly strong association with Operation Flinders and has provided valuable development opportunities for countless young people since 2004.

In 2022, SA Power Networks sponsored or partnered with 44 South Australian organisations, as well as launched its inaugural community grants program, supporting a further 25 community groups, schools, and not-for profits with up to $5,000 to make a tangible difference in their local area.

In 2022, the organisation invested a total of $2 million into the South Australian community through its partnerships, sponsorships and grants program. The Employee Foundation gave away over $550,000 in donations in 2022 alone and is expected to reach $5 million in total donations in 2023.

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