Read about the individual and team honours and all those nominated in the 2013 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.

Outstanding individual achievement

Regional health services

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

Gordon Bell

Barwon Health

Gordon is a very well known and respected member of the Barwon Health team. He volunteers across the emergency, renal dialysis, acute and community rehabilitation departments as a patient transport driver. Gordon strives for excellence in every aspect of his position and continues to inspire and motivate other volunteers in the region. Gordon transports consumers to and from life-saving and life-enhancing medical and recreational appointments, staff to their vehicles safely after dark and provides much-needed companionship to some of the region’s most isolated people. Gordon exudes an infectious positivity towards improving health outcomes for individuals in our community and a great community spirit in everything he does.

Ken Hawkins

Barwon Health

Ken volunteers at the Belmont Community Rehabilitation Facility, a community-based residential recovery service that provides support for people with a lived experience of significant mental distress. Ken provides expert peer support counselling, as well as coaching, to aid people in their recovery journey. Ken sets an example of the potential for recovery within the service. The courage and integrity with which he relates his story to others inspires hope within the community that they too can recover. The authenticity of Ken’s story and the personal nature of his journey allows him to meet others in a unique place and provide support in a manner that no-one else in the service can provide.

Rural health services

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

Cheryl Russell

Bass Coast Regional Health

Cheryl has been a Meals on Wheels volunteer since 1982, a mighty 31 years. She first volunteered with Bass Coast Shire Council and continued as a volunteer with Bass Coast Regional Health (BCRH) when it took over the program in 1996. Cheryl routinely delivers meals once a week and is willing and available to assist whenever BCRH is short of volunteers. She is such a flexible volunteer that she will complete different trips from her normal route and often does two trips on one delivery day. Her coordinator and other staff consider her a pleasure to have on the team. Cheryl is always helpful and friendly and the clients cannot speak more highly of her.

Abby Noble

Mallee Track Health and Community Service

Abby is a sweet and reserved young woman who quietly goes about her volunteer role, assisting with the planned activity groups. This encompasses a variety of roles such as craft, meal serving and preparation, outings, cooking, or even just a one-on-one chat with the clientele. In the 12 months Abby has been volunteering she has shown a maturity well beyond her years. Her demeanour with the clientele is kind, caring and respectful. She has become a popular part of the group and the clients all look forward to seeing her walk through the door. Abby, being 17 years old, has been a role model and guiding light for other youth in the community, hopefully encouraging the volunteering spirit to continue in our small town for generations to come.

Primary health service

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

Yvonne Rosengarten

Jewish Care Victoria

Yvonne Rosengarten has been a volunteer for Jewish Care Victoria for more than 60 years. Inspired by her father’s volunteer work, she began to work with orphans in the organisation’s children’s homes. Today, at the age of 90, she spends one day per week volunteering at Gary Smorgon House as a companion for lonely residents. Although Yvonne visits all residents, she pays special attention to isolated dementia clients. This is extremely challenging, especially because the individuals she visits are often her peers. Yvonne sits with these residents, entertains them with stories and news and listens to what they have to say. She provides them with a connection to the outside world where possible and acts as a passionate advocate for their needs.

Kiley Nicholls

Merri Community Health Services

Kiley has been a volunteer since 2003, initially volunteering her time on a camping trip, which aimed to foster connectedness and inclusiveness for families of Arabic origin who have children with disabilities. The understanding and insight from this experience inspired Kiley to become a volunteer host. A volunteer host provides regular respite for families caring for a child with a disability in their own homes, as well as providing opportunities that maximise the child’s participation in the community by expanding their exposure to new experiences and challenges. Kiley exemplifies and is a ‘public voice’ of what we aspire to as an organisation; to provide high-quality services and build the strength of our community by embracing the concept of inclusiveness.

Metropolitan health service

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

Jenni O’Sullivan

Peninsula Health

Jenni’s person-centred care approach to a busy, often stressful environment exemplifies all the core values of the Assistance and Care in Emergency (ACE) volunteer program at Frankston and Rosebud emergency departments. She is a leader among her peers, always providing support and guidance to new and existing volunteers. Jenni is a passionate advocate for the program, driving recruitment processes and ensuring program sustainability. She works tirelessly in her volunteer role organising rosters, meetings, training updates, guest speakers and communications. Her optimistic attitude and cheerfulness, together with her willingness and availability has not only provided support for emergency department staff and the 100-strong volunteer program but has ensured optimal patient experiences in the emergency departments.

Vera Dunscombe

Western Health

Vera is 97 years old and has been volunteering to support the Williamstown Hospital for more than 30 years. Vera and her two daughters volunteer at the Williamstown Hospital Opportunity Shop weekly. Vera offers updates to the customers on what is happening at the local hospital and enjoys meeting new people and telling them about the local health service that she is proud to raise funds for. Long-term volunteers such as Vera are a great connection for the community – people of all ages come into the Williamstown Hospital Opportunity Shop and see an active older person who is passionate about supporting her local health service and the community.

Outstanding achievement by a team

Regional health services

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

Emergency Department Volunteers

Barwon Health

A team of dedicated emergency department (ED) volunteers was established in 2003 to enhance the treatment and experience of patients and their families when attending the service. The team of 46 volunteers work 12 hours per day, 365 days per year to ease the anxiety and stress experienced by patients and their families in the ED. Volunteers offer companionship to patients who are alone, provide conversation and comfort to distressed families and friends, care for children to give parents a break, and provide information on facilities or services within the hospital. These volunteers donate their time in an extremely traumatic, emotive and fast-paced environment. Regardless of their surrounds, they continue to offer a friendly smile and thoughtful touch to our community.

Palliative Care Unit Volunteers

Barwon Health

Within the McKellar Centre’s Palliative Care Unit is a team of 11 specially trained volunteers who provide extensive non-clinical and social support to palliative clients, families and staff. They epitomise Barwon Health’s values of respect, compassion, accountability, commitment and innovation. The team has three key areas of focus: information desk, happy hour, companionship and hand massage. Within these key areas, each of the volunteers shows a high level of dedication and compassion. In what can be an emotionally challenging situation, volunteers generously give their time to share the client’s journey in what is a very vulnerable stage of their lives. The empathy and support to palliative care clients and their families provided by the team brings joy and relief to clients and their families.

Rural health services

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

Swish and Swat

Hepburn Health Service

Swish and Swat (Supporting Women in Strengthening Health and Supporting Women Around Trentham) was formed in 2003 to address women’s health issues across the four major towns in the Hepburn Shire. The team consists of six or more local female community members who enable individuals and groups to take a lead role in health promotion and to provide a local focus on health issues. The team has implemented a range of community strengthening strategies addressing isolation, frustration, anxiety, lack of information and support and feelings of helplessness, all of which were identified as common themes among the target group. Swish and Swat has built community capacity through recruiting community members to become involved in health promotion.

Dining In Team

Kilmore and District Hospital

Caladenia nursing home is a 30-bed, high care, aged care service. Due to their care needs, residents have limited, if any, opportunity to access their local community. To address this, two years ago Caladenia introduced a regular, special dinner to provide residents with the continued pleasure associated with dining with family and friends. A team of three volunteers have been involved since its inception and are central to the Dining In program. Dining In, which generally occurs fortnightly, allows residents to be involved in choosing the cuisine, to feel special, to be waited on, to engage in ongoing mealtime and evening conversation, and to enjoy an evening completely out of their usual daily routines.

Primary health service

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

OM:NI Representatives Group

Council on the Ageing Victoria

Each member of the OM:NI (Older Men: New Ideas) Representatives Group participates and facilitate their local OM:NI group. A representative greets each group member, establishes the topic for discussion, ensures every attendee has respectful time to share their experiences, facilitates discussion and supports men to express their ideas and listen to others. Without the commitment of the OM:NI Representatives Group volunteers, groups would have had limited capacity to develop in a manner that supports men to discuss significant health and wellbeing issues, social isolation and coming to terms with and planning for their retirement. The success of groups today and the strength of the OM:NI program is a testament to their commitment.

Community Social-bites Volunteer Team

Gateway Social Support Options

The Community Social-bites Volunteer Team has been together for almost two years. They have developed their own mission within the organisation to ensure that clients who attend the community social-bites luncheons are given a healthy, nutritious meal. This team is positive, spirited and creative in facing the challenge of producing 120 meals from donated produce, not knowing what they will be cooking until that morning or the day before. They leave nothing to waste and are very creative in their meal plans. Although a qualified chef guides them, the meals are prepared in the limited three-hour time allocated. They are a dynamic and hard-working team of three and show great teamwork and respect for each other and their clients.

Metropolitan health service

Nominee name

Organisation

Achievements

Falls Prevention and Wellbeing Team

Eastern Health

At the Peter James Centre in Burwood, an exceptional group of volunteers regularly work with frail and elderly patients who require individual therapies and assistance with meals and mobility. Assisting patients and reducing patient falls in hospital is an important part of what the team of volunteers do every day. This team is exceptional and very committed.
They not only implement the activities but have been instrumental in designing and developing activity programs for the patients. The 24 volunteers are so professional and reliable that their help has been enlisted to assist with a research program focusing on falls prevention and patient wellbeing. The team has had some impressive results and a very positive impact on staff, patients and their families.

Palliative Care Volunteer Equipment Delivery Team

Mercy Health

The Palliative Care Equipment Delivery Service lends small items of medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and commodes, to patients. This vital service enables patients to remain in their own homes for longer and to avoid hospitalisation or intervention and healthcare outside the home. This service often enables people to choose to die at home, allowing the patient to retain some independence and dignity in the final stages of their life. The role of the team includes picking up equipment following a death or hospital admission. The volunteer team has transformed the public perception of this service through the courteous, respectful and empathetic manner in which they deal with the diverse families and situations they come into contact with.