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Celebrating Victoria’s public healthcare volunteers

Congratulations to all the 2014 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards nominees

On 14 May 2014 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Minister for Health, the Hon David Davis MP presented 16 awards for Outstanding Volunteer Achievement to individuals and teams.

The Minister commended all the nominated volunteers for their exceptional commitment and dedication to the health and wellbeing of the Victorian community.

Now in its sixth year, the 2014 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards received 97 volunteer nominations from 67 metropolitan, regional, rural and primary care organisations.

Minister Davis said, "We are a fortunate community where volunteers from all backgrounds, ages and interests are committed and passionate in their care for others."

Outstanding individual achievement

Metropolitan health services

Nominee Name Organisation Achievements

Meg Rynderman

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Meg joined the Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre (ACSC) at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in 2008, following a long journey with cancer herself. She is passionate about improving support, information and follow-up care for others experiencing cancer and positively influences the quality of survivorship care in Victoria and nationally.

Meg brings to her role at ASCS significant life experience and has been involved in a range of innovative, novel survivorship initiatives. Her role includes representation on the Cancer Survivorship Advisory Committee, completing cancer survivor stories, providing presentations at patient and health professional educational forums and facilitation of the VCSP consumer forum. Meg generously provides her time, shares her story, and documents the stories of others providing a voice and influence to improve care for people with cancer.

Linda Diep

Western Health

Linda is a very community minded and giving young woman. Since becoming a volunteer as a teenager at the age of 16, Linda has achieved many things for herself, Western Health and her local community. Linda has volunteered for four years now and is part of several volunteer teams, including the Sunshine Opportunity Shop, Patient Library Service, fund raising and community awareness and the research unit. In addition, she frequently offers her time to sit and talk with the patients and visitors, enhancing patient experience and contributing to their well-being.

Linda is a great role model for all young volunteers and has played a huge role in encouraging other young people and families from her local Vietnamese community to be connected with the local health service.

Primary care

Nominee Name Organisation Achievements

Annie McPherson

Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria

Annie is a founding member of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) Victoria Inc. and president for the last nine years. She has been instrumental in the establishment and growth of this group, an Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria peer support group for people living with AS. She has increased the knowledge of over 600 people living with AS and the general community through delivering information and education to a range of community groups and individuals. She is also a health consumer representative and advocate providing information to La Trobe University and Melbourne University physiotherapy and medical students about AS. Annie is a very passionate and determined woman who despite living in chronic pain herself is highly focussed on supporting others living with musculoskeletal conditions and advocating on their behalf.

Ray Carr

Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre

Ray is a volunteer driver in the Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men Community Support program and supports clients living with HIV/AIDS by taking them to important medical appointments and social gatherings, which would otherwise be, in most cases too difficult to attend. Despite a number of setbacks, Ray is committed to his volunteering role and always returns with increased passion and vigour. He is known as the volunteer who is always available and never one to say no to an urgent driving request. Ray says, above all, he loves the connection he has when meeting clients for the first time who are shy or have feelings they will be judged for the HIV status.

Regional health services

Nominee Name Organisation Achievements

Linda McWaters

Albury Wodonga Health

Linda volunteers on a weekly basis at Wodonga Hospital and the local private hospital. She commenced volunteering in 1991 and rarely misses a day. Linda fulfils a number of roles, including working as a Pink Lady and a member of the Pastoral Care Team.  She graciously offers something that makes patient stay at the hospital more palatable. Linda regularly looks after the flowers around the hospital and stops to chat with patients, contributing to their well-being during their hospital stay. She is also responsible for providing comfort and a spiritual connection to people in any one of the four local hospitals. She has the ability to make people feel good and relax in her presence, which makes her special.

Margot Johnson

South West Healthcare

Margot has been volunteering at South West Healthcare since 1985. She commenced her duties as a flower lady then moved into other roles within the department until she assumed the role of Community Liaison Volunteer, which she currently fulfils and has done so for several years.

Margot is an inspiring volunteer who works tirelessly to improve the healthcare and experiences of patients. She has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to finance otherwise unaffordable medical equipment and aides. She displays a strong ethic and works in the most modest and compassionate way, giving her time for the benefit and enrichment of her local community.

Rural health services

Nominee Name Organisation Achievements

Bronwyn Wheeler

Gippsland Southern Health Service

Since 2009, Bronwyn has volunteered as a Lifestyle & Leisure Assistant at Hillside Lodge – the low care residential facility in Gippsland Southern Health Service. Bronwyn’s involvement over this period has allowed for the expansion and improvement of the Lifestyle & Leisure program and has increased the Lodge’s capacity of providing more individualised attention and personal support to the residents. Bronwyn also takes care of the pets that form part of a Pet Therapy program. She has been a great role model to volunteers, staff and residents as she lives by an attitude that leaves others feeling important and cared for. Her inclusive and welcoming approach endears her to many people and ensures that community contributors come back to volunteer time and time again.

Ellie Lane

Portland District Health

As a long standing volunteer at Portland District Health, Ellie positively impacts many lives. With memberships of the Consumer Advisory Committee and the Safety and Risk Management Committee, she provides consumer insight and feedback into service planning, delivery and evaluation, Portland’s quality activities, risk management and OH&S. She brings her local knowledge and passion for the community to ensure her local health services are continuously of a high standard.

In addition, Ellie is also valued member of the volunteer community transport, telecare and the Meals on Wheels teams. She selflessly gives up her time and comfort to transport and accompany patients to health facilities in Melbourne, making 8-10 long trips each month.

Outstanding team achievement

Metropolitan health services

Nominee Name Organisation Achievements

Respecting Patient Choices Community Ambassadors

Austin Health

The Respecting Patient Choices Community Ambassadors provide a unique and much needed service in the Northeast of Melbourne by assisting people to understand their choices about health care and to make advance care plans to ensure their choices are respected. The Ambassadors are all retired volunteers who are hardworking, committed and excellent communicators. These skills are particularly important when sensitive issues such as death and dying are the topic of their advocacy. The training that the volunteers receive and the sensitivity and compassion with which they approach their volunteer work makes it invaluable to very many members of the Victorian community.

Tai Chi Leaders

Peninsula Health

The Tai Chi leaders are a dedicated team of seven volunteers who provide exercise groups for community members on the Frankston Mornington Peninsula. These volunteer leaders were among the first to be trained by Arthritis Victoria. This dedicated team of volunteers has displayed an outstanding level of commitment by providing ongoing opportunities for people to participate in Tai Chi classes for over fifteen years. In addition to leading the Tai Chi classes the volunteers regularly attend meetings and work with staff to plan and review all aspects of the program and ensure that the highest standards of health and safety are maintained for all involved. Every participant is made to feel welcome and part of the group as the Leaders promote social inclusion.

Primary care

Nominee Name Organisation Achievements

Afghan Community Team

South Eastern Melbourne Medicare Local

The Afghan Community Team volunteers provide culturally appropriate information to the local Afghan community on basic health awareness and how to access local health services. The volunteers take responsibility in tailoring the key health messages, organising and delivering community health information sessions to meet the needs of the community and evaluate the effectiveness of the sessions. The team provides innovative and outstanding services to the local Afghan community to address a significant gap in accessing and understanding the healthcare system. Their effective work has empowered community members to improve their health seeking behaviours and health outcomes, including accessing after-hours health assistance telephone lines or GP home visiting services rather than attending the hospital emergency department for primary care treatments.

Bereaved Parent and Sibling Support Group Leaders

The Compassionate Friends Victoria Inc.

The Support Group Leader team consists of individuals who experienced the death of a child or sibling and have been trained by The Compassionate Friends Victoria. They team facilitate a number of monthly meeting groups, both in regional and metropolitan areas, throughout Victoria providing support, help, inspiration, care, understanding and a safe environment to others who tragically experience the death of their child or sibling.

They offer a pathway for others to pick up the threads of life, to learn to live again and make a new life. This is a group of people who have being significantly impacted by their own trauma of the death of a child yet not only willingly but passionately lead groups every month.

Regional health services

Nominee Name Organisation Achievements

Palliative Care Volunteer Team

Albury Wodonga Health

The Palliative Care Volunteer Team was formed in 2001 as part of the Wodonga Palliative Care Consultancy Service. The team of 19 volunteers went through a rigorous 30 hour training program and provide social and emotional support, transport and in home respite for palliative patients and their carers. They also facilitate the Carer Support and Bereavement Support Groups.

The Palliative Care Volunteer Team shows incredible compassion to the patients as they support them in their journey, until death. The volunteers have been invaluable for Albury Wodonga Health as they are able to relieve carer stress, provide support to patients and provide a high level of service to the health service which would otherwise have been unaffordable.

Make your Mark Committee

Echuca Regional Health

The Make your Mark Committee is made up of ten enthusiastic, passionate and committed volunteer members who, in 2012, undertook the most successful fundraising campaign undertaken to date in the Echuca community.

The Committee diligently planned the campaign and approached thousands of community members, businesses and organisations in order to raise funds for new equipment for Echuca Hospital and to enhance the quality of healthcare available to the entire community. Unperturbed that the local community was still dealing with the impact of drought and flood, the group raised $2.3 million and connected the hospital with the local community through their Make your Mark campaign. Due to the significant contribution of the Make Your Mark committee, the Echuca and surrounding community will benefit for many years to come.

Rural health services

Nominee Name Organisation Achievements

Pastoral Care Team

Bass Coast Regional Health

The Pastoral Care Team offer pastoral care to patients in the acute and sub-acute wards and in the Dialysis Unit of the hospital as well as to residents in the aged care facilities, two of which are high-care, the third is a low-care residential hostel.  The Pastoral Care Team are a positive example of people from different traditions working together to provide nondenominational spiritual and emotional support to all, regardless of religious affiliation or none.

The team is always willing to learn and are committed to providing professional pastoral care as part of holistic care in a multidisciplinary healthcare setting. They are a generous, passionate and dedicated team.

Nursing Home Support Group

Dunmunkle Health Services

The Nursing Home Support Group, formed in 1989, consists of 10 dedicated volunteers. The Support Group runs a number of activities, including assisting with organising activities at the home, transporting residents to local functions and helping at mealtimes.

Following two floods in 2011, Rupanyup staff were unable to drive through the floodwaters. The Support Group volunteers were of critical support during this time of emergency, helping prepare meals and providing comfort to the nursing home residents while the domestic staff were unavailable. The Support Group enhances quality of life for the residents and day centre clients in the aged care facility by organising and funding activities such as musical entertainment and special outings. Their dedication and commitment is praiseworthy.


The Awards Secretariat, which includes the Victorian Public Healthcare Awards and the Minister for Health Volunteer Awards, are managed by the Commission for Hospital Improvement, Department of Health.