Congratulations to all of our nominees for 2017. Read about the individual and team honours and all those nominated in the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards in the showcase booklet.

Group photo featuring all the nominees at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.

Outstanding Achievement by a Young Volunteer

Louisa Detez, Eating Disorders Victoria

Louisa Detez at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.Louisa is a dedicated and enthusiastic member of the Eating Disorders Victoria (EDV) volunteer team. Her role includes supporting, encouraging and connecting with people who are affected by eating disorders.

Her thoughtful and considered responses to the EDV community on the phone, in person, via email or on EDV's forum form the core of the volunteer team's services.

Louisa has always put her hand up for extra roles, and is willing to go above and beyond her role to support the EDV community. This includes volunteering for shifts outside her regular shift, in addition to juggling her honours in psychology studies and her part-time job.

Michael Casha, Carers Victoria

Michael Casha at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.Michael is a 25-year-old young carer and ambassador for young carers and family carers in the community. Becoming a young carer from a very early age, supporting his parents to care for his eldest brother David who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of five, Michael now juggles his full-time career, his caring and his volunteering to go above and beyond the call of duty for the community.

Through his work as an Ambassador for Carers Australia and Carers Victoria and a volunteer and supporter of Little Dreamers, a young carer awareness raising organisation, he improves the lives of young carers by raising awareness, advocating for change and being a voice for so many who do not have one.

Outstanding Achievement by a Volunteer: Lifetime Achievement

Jan McNess, The Compassionate Friends Victoria

Jan McNess at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.2017 marks 20 years of wonderful, hugely beneficial voluntary work from Jan in supporting bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents. When Jan first experienced The Compassionate Friends Victoria (TCFV) - two years after the death of her eldest son Jeremy - the experience of peer support was a profound comfort, and subsequently Jan became the Geelong representative of TCFV.

Jan's volunteering with TCFV is two-fold. She provides ongoing support to bereaved individuals and families through support groups, one-on-one peer support, creative work, and advocacy, and she is also a supporter of the supporters, TCFV's state-wide voluntary force of support group leaders. In addition, Jan's advocacy work for families bereaved through military accidents has led to improved procedures and support for bereaved families. 

Julie Kilgour, Bass Coast Health

Julie Kilgour at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.Julie is an inspiration to the community of Wonthaggi and surrounding areas in South Gippsland. A passionate woman with a zest for life, Julie has unselfishly devoted 35 years to volunteering with Bass Coast Health, in a way that will forever shape the future of the volunteer program. Julie underwent training with a Bass Coast Health social worker some 35 years ago to assist women and children affected by domestic violence. This contribution to volunteering has shaped the life of many in the local community, helping children and women to recover from domestic violence and instilling self-esteem and hope for a better life.

A founding member of the Palliative Care Volunteer Team and a mentor to other team members in this difficult and often confronting role, Julie has also been an acute ward volunteer for the past 18 years; a Life Member of the Hospital Ladies Auxiliary, organising morning teas for people with diabetes; and a member of the Volunteer Steering Committee.

Colin Krycer, Victorian AIDS Council

Colin Krycer at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.Colin is a longstanding Victorian AIDS Council volunteer, as well as an unpaid committee representative for many other Melbourne community groups. He is also a presenter on JOY 94.9 FM, having been part of the planning before they went to air, as well as from day one of transmission on World AIDS Day, 1 December 1993. Colin has volunteered tirelessly for over four decades. The quintessential unsung hero, Colin is often behind the scenes as the audio-visual guy, ensuring that speeches can be heard, visual presentations can be seen, the voices of the Gay and Lesbian Choir can soar, and that thoughts expressed so passionately on JOY
FM are recorded for posterity on podcasts.

His willing engagement early in the life, and continued support, of a number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) projects and organisations displays his dedication to the community. He is a role model for giving something back without fanfare or fuss.

Outstanding Achievement by a volunteer: Improving the Patient Experience

The Dignity Therapy Team, Barwon Health

The Dignity Therapy Team at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.The Dignity Therapy team comprises 14 volunteers from a wide variety of professional backgrounds including journalism, social work, case management, local politics and school administration. Some also have personal experience with palliative care. Dignity Therapy involves interviewing patients with life-limiting illnesses, allowing people an opportunity to reflect on key aspects of their lives and document messages for loved ones in a printed book. Nine of the volunteers conduct face-to-face interviews with patients, and five of them transcribe the interviews and provide the behind-the-scenes support for the program. The volunteers have a high level of commitment and strive to provide individualised support to the patients.

The program is proven to have a profound effect on the patients who experience it firsthand. However, it also has a flow-on effect for family members and friends. It provides them with a safe place to start conversations about death and dying. Having these conversations prior to death protects people in bereavement and helps to address public health challenges associated with complex grief responses.

Julie Miller, Ambulance Victoria

Julie Miller at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.Julie has a strong passion to ensure her team and community are provided with a community first responder team, which is reflected in her passion and drive to nurture and support the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). First responders are volunteers who are despatched at the same time as an ambulance, and they provide basic emergency care services within their local community until the ambulance arrives.

A founding member of her local CERT, Julie has been instrumental in ensuring the CERT provides a vital 24-hour service to the community. Julie not only performs the hands-on role, she is also a vital link that maintains the team's cohesion, wellbeing, support and ensures that the CERT delivers on its promise.

Outstanding Achievement by a Volunteer: Better Care Victoria Innovation

Brian Catchpole, Solve Disability Solutions

Brian Catchpole at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.Brian is a founding member of Solve Disability Solutions, and he has volunteered for 41 years as a technical volunteer. Initially volunteering while working full-time, Brian continues in the role today, despite being well into his 80s. Through his innovative approach, Brian uses his ingenious problem-solving abilities and engineering expertise to design, make and or modify equipment for people with a disability when a commercial solution cannot be found.

His projects have allowed people to become more independent, try out new hobbies or sports, and have more opportunities to participate in the community. His work gives people with a disability opportunities for increased social interaction and the chance to experience the thrill of participating in a team sport.

Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance Community Advisory Group

The Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance (MGHA) Community Advisory Group at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.The Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance (MGHA) Community Advisory Group provides patient and community perspectives that inform how genomic medicine is implemented in Victoria. This group of volunteers is one of the world's first in the field of genomics -- established in January 2014, within weeks of MGHA's founding. It is a patient-connected, grassroots group of individuals, each nominated for their networks, knowledge and skills.

MGHA comprises leading healthcare and research organisations dedicated to bringing the global knowledge of genomics to the individual care of Victorians - the first such alliance in Australia. The Community Advisory Group has led the way in ensuring community perspectives inform the implementation of genomics into healthcare - resulting in better care for patients. A pioneer in its field, nationally and internationally, the group has created a model and framework for community involvement in the genomic medicine era.

Steven Taylor, Hepatitis Victoria

Steven Taylor at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.Steven is a social worker and film student who has volunteered with Hepatitis Victoria for over a year. He has done this in two capacities - as someone with high level skills and passion, and as someone with a lived experience of hepatitis. Steven has contributed to peer support programs such as HEPConnect - an over-the-phone support service for those living with viral hepatitis, as well as community advocacy for hepatitis. As a HEPHero,

Stephen has publicly pledged to advocate for the elimination of stigma and discrimination of viral hepatitis. Using his film production skills, he provided Hepatitis Victoria with a short film, C the change, which he produced in his own time outside his designated volunteer hours. By sharing his personal story, he challenges the stigma and discrimination of viral hepatitis.

Outstanding Achievement by a Volunteer: Improving Public Healthcare

Friends of Carinya Auxillary, Peninsula Health

The Friends of Carinya Auxillary at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.The Friends of Carinya Auxiliary (FCA) was established in 1992, six months after the Carinya Aged Persons Mental Health Residential Care Facility first opened. The facility provides highly specialised and unique care for elderly members of the community who have dementia or mental health diagnoses and cannot be managed in nursing homes due to behavioural issues. The membership is made up of Carinya staff, family of past and present residents and community members who have a passion for making a real difference in mental health residential aged care.

The FCA's passion and commitment is reflected through their long-standing membership - this small cohesive group has raised well over $100,000 for Carinya. For several years, the FCA has partnered with a local Rotary Club in an annual community raffle to raise much-needed funds. During Senior Citizens Week each year, funds raised by the FCA enable farm visits, entertainers and activities such as Harley Davidson motorbike or stretch limousine rides for the residents. The FCA is an integral part of life at Carinya, and residents describe the members as a surrogate family.

Kate Hutchison, Merri Health

Kate Hutchinson at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.Kate has been contributing to volunteering for over four decades and is passionate about improving social conditions and services for women and marginalised families in Moreland. A humble and compassionate woman with a very warm and gentle demeanour, her work in this area is complemented by her very strong advocacy for the advancement of much-needed healthcare services for children and disadvantaged families.

A Merri Health volunteer for the past eight years, Kate also volunteered for three years in a Greek dancing group that entertained people living in nursing homes. Being the first non-Greek woman to join the group, Kate's exceptional abilities to communicate in a way that transcends all barriers proved exemplary. Kate uses her knowledge and skills as a Senior Speech Pathologist to work closely with the Merri Child Health Team, and her dedication to paediatric speech pathology has inspired many other therapists whom she has mentored to pursue a paediatric role themselves.

Outstanding Achievement by a Volunteer: Supporting Diversity

Gabby Gamble, Bendigo Health

Gabby Gamble at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.Gabby, a well-known Aboriginal Elder, is incredibly passionate about Bendigo Health and the Aboriginal community of the Loddon Mallee Region. Approximately two years ago, Gabby joined the volunteer team with the clear view of trying to encourage the local Aboriginal community to be comfortable to get involved with or receive care at Bendigo Health. It didn't take Gabby long to show interest in other ways to improve and support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cohort, and she sought to join the Bendigo Health Consumer Advisory Committee.

Her ability to communicate to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community means that many of this cohort can better navigate their way around the health service. Gabby acknowledges that 'yarning' with people while they are at Bendigo Health has the potential to promote positive knowledge about the health sector that will encourage more people to present at hospital rather than not.

Linda Kotsopoulos, Northern Health

Linda Kotsopoulos at the 2017 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards.Linda is known for the support, comfort, kindness and countless smiles she has brought to dementia patients and their families during her 11 years of volunteering at the Kath Atkinson Wing (KAW) of Northern Health's Bundoora Extended Care. Linda is committed to gaining a better understanding of the needs of people with dementia, while adding a personal touch to their everyday lives.

A bilingual speaker, Linda goes out of her way to fulfil her friendly visitor role of assisting to bring the outside world in. By making Greek and Italian coffee and baking cakes for patients to enjoy while playing cards or chatting, she helps patients to experience a little bit of their culture and home life.

2017 Honour Roll inductees

June Goudie, Eastern Health

Trevor Wyatt, Ambulance Victoria