Read about the individual and team honours and all those nominated in the 2011 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.

Outstanding achievement by an individual

Metropolitan health service

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

Gus De Groot

Peninsula Health

Through his role on the Community Advisory Committee and Advisory Group, Gus De Groot has continuously managed to speak up and advocate for Peninsula Health consumers. Gus is a popular volunteer who provides a friendly face and assists with queries and directions. His involvement in medication safety has been exemplary.

Gus’ role in the ‘Speak Up’ campaign has been instrumental in encouraging patients to ‘speak up’ and ask about their treatment or medications. Gus is a volunteer who continues to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Beth Ferguson

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

One major impact of cancer therapy is the effect of hair loss at a time when an individual is feeling at their most vulnerable and their self-esteem is low.

Beth Ferguson has been involved as a volunteer at Peter Mac for 20 years and the headwear coordinator for 10 years, providing hats, scarves and turbans for people undergoing cancer therapies. Beth coordinates a sewing team of 28, providing quality control for the more than 20,000 pieces of headwear per year specially made and provided free to Peter Mac patients.

Primary health service

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

Janet Bennet

Council on the Ageing (COTA) – Victoria

Janet Bennet’s involvement in COTA is invaluable and helps to achieve the organisation’s aims. She has been a role model to many, encouraging older people to be more active through cycling and other activities. She is always willing to join in COTA’s promotional activities, guide program development and mentor others in program design and management. Janet is a confident and engaging speaker who is much sought after as a peer educator.

Vito Doquile

The Salvation Army Bridge Centre

Vito Doquile, a retired pharmacist, naturopath and drug educator, has worked in prisons and drug and alcohol facilities for many years and has been a volunteer with The Salvation Army Bridge Centre since 2005.

Vito facilitates ‘The Butterfly’ group, which provides life education and support to clients dealing with health and social issues associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs. Vito offers pre-treatment support, post-prison release support, health education, relaxation techniques and leisure activities. As one client said, ‘His message was inspirational … to me Vito was a godsend.’

Regional health service

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

Sandra Martin

Bairnsdale Regional Health Service (BRHS)

Sandra Martin has been a dedicated and loyal volunteer at BRHS since April 2004. In 2005 she became the president of the hospital’s kiosk auxiliary and also volunteers her Wednesdays to help at BRHS’s Planned Activity Group in Paynesville.

Sandra is a leader who inspires fellow auxiliary members. As chairperson of auxiliary meetings, she ensures all members have equal involvement and opportunity to contribute while keeping meetings on track, enjoyable and informative. Sandra shines because of her dedication, passion and commitment.

Marjorie Crothers

South West Healthcare

Marjorie Crothers has been a palliative care volunteer for 20 years. She has provided pastoral care and palliative care to countless grieving patients and families in a caring and committed manner.

Marjorie gives generously and tirelessly to help ease the grief of bereaved families in her local community. Along with her palliative care work, she performs all the duties of a paid pastoral care worker on a voluntary basis as well and organising the annual memorial service for carers who are bereaved.

Rural health service

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

Shirley Jones

Mallee Track Health and Community Service

Shirley Jones is a quiet achiever – always helping others. Shirley’s main role within Mallee Track is driving or escorting clients to appointments and social outings, supporting the Meet and Eat group, working as a special friendly visitor and volunteering monthly for Meals on Wheels.

Shirley represents the true spirit of volunteerism; she gives to the community without any need for recognition or fuss and has set the benchmark on being reliable and committed volunteer to the Mallee Track programs for over the past 15 years.

Faith Sutterby

Portland District Health

Faith Sutterby is a volunteer who is always available, doing all that she can to make other people’s lives as comfortable and as happy as possible. Faith shows how old-fashioned values of politeness, punctuality and cooperation can make a huge difference to others. In the recruitment and training of new volunteers, Faith is a mentor and a buddy, leading by example. She is enthusiastic and demonstrates the benefits of volunteering. When asked why she volunteers Faith answers, ‘It’s in my blood, I love doing it … I get as much from it, if not more, than what I give.’

Norman Mansfield

West Wimmera Health Service (WWHS)

Norman Mansfield is a generous and tireless local supporter for people with a disability and the elderly. Norm has volunteered for more than 15 years with WWHS and has made an enormous impression on individuals and organisations as a cheerful, dependable and committed volunteer.

Norm has volunteered across a range of services for adults with a disability and people at risk of unemployment, providing support to enter the workforce and encouraging participation in community life. Norm finds it very difficult to refuse a request for help from anyone and rarely does so.

Outstanding achievement by a team

Metropolitan health service

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

P.A.R.T.Y. Program Volunteer Team

Alfred Health

P.A.R.T.Y. is a full day, in-hospital experience where young participants get to experience first-hand the impact of risk-related behaviour on young lives. They hear from trauma doctors, nurses, therapists and trauma patients and their families, to give them a true-to-life snapshot of life post a major trauma. P.A.R.T.Y. volunteers are a unique group, carefully selected for their personality, connection to young people and deep desire to have a positive impact on the teens who participate in the program.

Peter Mac Massage and Reflexology Team

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Peter Mac)

The Peter Mac Massage and Reflexology Service was established 11 years ago in response to the recognised benefits of ‘therapeutic touch’. The team of volunteers offers massage and reflexology not only to cancer patients but also to their carers and family.

The service has grown consistently and now provides 1,500 treatments per year to patients at any stage of their illness. These highly skilled volunteers make an enormous contribution to patient wellbeing, helping to alleviate the pain and suffering experienced by many patients, their families and carers during a vulnerable time in their lives.

Beth and Peter McDonald

Southern Health

Beth and Peter McDonald are tireless volunteers supporting people who have been affected by mental illness either as carers or consumers.

The couple are pioneers in advocating for better conditions for consumers on inpatient wards and in community settings. They also help friends and families who care for patients with mental illness to become a part of the treatment team. Beth and Peter are truly committed and passionate advocates – a legacy of their volunteer work is that many services have improved their approach to treating patients with mental illness.

Primary health service

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

Peer Educator Team

Council on the Ageing (COTA) – Victoria

The peer educators deliver messages of positive active ageing and being proactive both mentally and physically in health management. The Peer Educator Team consists of 50 volunteers, some with more than 10 years of experience.

The team demonstrate outstanding commitment, volunteering their knowledge and time to improve the welfare of older people. It is estimated that more than 60,000 consumers have benefited from COTA presentations by the Peer Education Team. The volunteers challenge commonly-held views on ageing and promote mental, physical, lifestyle and social factors for well-balanced living.

House Volunteer Team

Very Special Kids

The Very Special Kids House, Australia’s first and Victoria’s only children’s hospice, was opened in 1996 and offers children and their families planned and emergency respite and end-of-life care.

Over the past year the Very Special Kids organisation supported 861 families throughout Victoria, providing respite and end-of-life care at the Very Special Kids House. The House Volunteer Team comprises up to 20 trained volunteers who work alongside the staff providing care and companionship for resident children.

Regional health service

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

Emergency Department Volunteer Team

Ballarat Health Services

The Emergency Department Volunteer (EDV) Team brings comfort and sensitivity to people at a most distressing time of their lives. Many patients have commented on how much they have appreciated the volunteers’ time and thoughtfulness and how much it helped them during their contact with the emergency department. Not only does their work aid the patients, their families and friends, it also helps hospital staff to concentrate on their main jobs without the distractions. As one patient said, ‘I thought the volunteer was so great when I was in the emergency department – I have applied to be a volunteer there myself.’

Gandarra Palliative Care Unit Volunteer Team

Ballarat Health Services

The volunteer team plays a primary role at Gandarra to create a welcoming environment for patients with advanced and incurable disease and their families. The volunteer team knows how to talk about the issues relating to grief and dying and the effect that it has on those left behind and to respond to people’s needs appropriately. They also offer great support to carers and try to make them feel supported throughout the journey as well. Time is not an issue for volunteers when they are with a patient; they bring quality to life.

The Birches Specialist Extended Care Services Volunteers

Western District Health Service

The Birches Specialist Extended Care Service volunteers are a band of extremely dedicated volunteers who provide quality companionship to the lives of residents who have special behavioural problems associated with dementia from Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s disease and other mental health issues.


These wonderful volunteers have enriched the lives of the people they visit each week. They are semi-retired people with excellent communication skills and a wonderful understanding of the needs of people with cognitive and mental illnesses. The volunteers all present in beautiful, coloured clothing, scarves and beads, which are excellent prompts for starting conversations.

Rural health service

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

The Creswick Pole Walking Group Leaders

Hepburn Health Service

Ken McDonnell and Mandy Porter are two volunteers who, for the past four years, have taken on the role of promoting, coordinating, leading and motivating the Creswick Pole Walking Group, which has 20 active members including eight registered leaders. Pole walking is a suitable activity for people who experience problems with knees and backs when walking in the traditional way.

The Creswick Pole Walking Group helps develop stronger communities, leading to better health outcomes and benefits for the community. The group provides a fun way for people to exercise with the direct health benefits exercise provides.

Telecare Volunteers

Portland District Health

The Telecare program is in its 27th year and has 21 dedicated volunteers involved. The volunteers provide individual client contact each day, be it a listening ear, a laugh, checking if medication has been taken, reminding clients about events or activities, or a general chat about what’s going on around them.

The volunteers take pride in their work, providing daily reassurance to every client and the client’s family and friends. This program would not exist without the fantastic support of the volunteers whose positive outlook has made the program the success it is today.