Queensland Volunteering Awards Presentation & Recognition Ceremony 2016


The inaugural Queensland Volunteering Awards acknowledged the extraordinary and valuable work done every day by thousands of volunteers and organisations across the state.

Award nominees, finalists and recipients were honoured at the Awards Presentation and Recognition Ceremony at Brisbane Room, Brisbane City Hall on Friday 13 May during National Volunteer Week 2016.

This prestigious event highlighted and paid tribute to the caring individuals and organisations who inspire and epitomise the spirit of volunteerism through their compassion, commitment and hard work.

National Volunteer Week and the Queensland Volunteering Awards are proudly supported by the Queensland Government.


Lifetime Contribution to Volunteering Award 

Recipient: Aunty Lillian Burke

The recipient of the Lifetime Contribution to Volunteering Award is an Aboriginal woman of the language group “Butchulla/Kabi Kabi” who experienced a childhood of extreme disadvantage as part of the Stolen Generation.

  • She is president of the Cooloola Aboriginal Services Inc. - an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander based not for profit organisation
  • the Indigenous Advisory Committee for Fraser Island World Heritage Area
  • the South Pacific Strategic Solutions initiative
  • Lillian coordinates all National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Commemoration (NAIDOC) celebrations annually in Gympie
  • She project manages Yarn-Up for Jobs which has helps young people find employment
  • She volunteers her time to the Gympie State High School to support the endeavours of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
  • She runs and coordinates a Leadership Camp for Indigenous high school girls from Gympie State High School
  • She supports a range of agencies in the Gympie community assisting with building the rapport between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the Non-Indigenous community
  • She supports a healthy eating cooking program for young indigenous mums at a playschool
  • There are many other Government, religious and academic organisations that she supports in an advisory and support capacity
  • She assists the Workforce Council for non-Indigenous foster carers to understand and assist with fostering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • She volunteers support to urban and Indigenous health services, education authorities, the Tenants Advice Bureau, Drug and Alcohol agencies, agencies tasked with addressing homelessness and domestic violence and many others
  • She supports all organisations in Gympie (Government, non-government, Indigenous and non-Indigenous and other) and volunteers her services on a full time basis to the betterment of All Australians. She seldom has much time for herself but enjoys giving to community.

Lillian sums up her life role in her community by saying that she works to share an understanding of where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are coming from, their past history and that their history and culture are embedded in them and will continue to be for future generations. She says: “She is not here to change the world but to ensure that all acknowledge the past and understand and to make it a better place where everyone can be equal to each other.”


Mr John Lee

Mr John Lee has been with the Queensland State Emergency Service (SES) for over 40 years. During this time he helped people during their darkest hour when they were affected by natural disasters and other crises. The selection panel thought that his story was particularly touching. Through his nomination we learned that John is a warm, caring, optimistic and determined person who simply wants to help people during their most challenging times.

Mrs Marcia Scholes

Mrs Marcia Scholes has given 70, that is seven zero!, years of continuous service to Mission to Seafarers, Brisbane. The selection panel recognised that it must be challenging to offer assistance to people from other countries who find themselves in a foreign land. We also wanted to acknowledge her 50 years of service with the Anglican Mother’s Union.


Youth Volunteering Award

Recipient: Taylor Birtchnell

This young woman was summed up perfectly by her nominator who described her as having a heart to serve, a passion to speak for those who don’t have a voice and to assist wherever she can.

Taylor began volunteering when she was 7 years old through the Guides. She has been achieved the Duke of Edinburgh Silver and Gold awards.

Some of the projects that Taylor has been involved in include:

  • Regular visits to the elderly at Ormiston House
  • A 2 year involvement with Daughters of Promise
  • Caring for native and domestic wildlife at the Redlands Veterinary Clinic
  • a librarian assistant at her school for 7 years
  • she established EXO Day at her school which raised awareness of mental health issues in the school community, but also benefited parents, teachers and the wider business community
  • She founded Calvary Cares school program which promotes a caring school community by handing out free hot chocolate and biscuits and a chat
  • #bringbackourgirls in association with Amnesty International to raise awareness about kidnapped Nigerian school girls and social justice in general

She has a long history of involvement across multiple organisations which really impressed the selection panel. 


Claire Kelly

Claire is an extraordinary young woman who travelled all the way from Mackay to join us. She is a passionate advocate for women’s rights. She has travelled to Fiji and Vanuatu to tutor children in orphanages and she is involved with many local charities. Her local community benefits as Claire is involved with the annual Christmas carols event and annual free car wash and coffee days. She is a mentor, public speaker, youth leader and she has completed the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award. The selection panel were impressed by how much someone of her age can achieve locally but also by how she was able to translate that internationally. They felt that Claire encapsulates what volunteering is all about.

Tegan Lather

Tegan has been a passionate fundraiser for wildlife and marine conservation since the age of 11. Over the past 6 years Tegan has raised in excess of $135,000. The selection panel were impressed by how she taken her volunteering to such a high level that she is able to generate so much income for the causes that are close to her heart. Tegan has inspired a book that has become a commercial success, she makes volunteering fun and she has created her own event – Zoo Run – which she has used to help multiple charities.


Volunteering Impact Award

Recipient: Lions Club of Mooloolaba, Lions Sunday Markets Fishermans Road

The Lions Club of Mooloolaba has run the Lions Sunday Markets Fishermans Road for the past 16 years which has generated around $1.6 million in funding for local, state, national and international causes and disasters.

The club is involved in a number of programs including:

  • Student driver education programs in conjunction with local state high schools
  • The PA Hospital spinal unit
  • Mater Hospital core bank
  • Emergency accommodation shelter for victims of domestic violence
  • Camp Duckadang a youth outreach project
  • Drought assistance in western Queensland
  • Bushfire assistance across Australia

The selection panel were impressed by how a relatively small number of people, around 10 people, who run the markets each week, are able to generate so much funding and help so many organisations across different levels.  


Blue Nurses Thrift Shop, Lowood

This service, which is based in Somerset, is run by 25 volunteers and has been going for 40 years. It creates opportunities for social engagement and skills development. The thrift shop was able to support Charleville after the 1990 floods and the local emergency centre after the 2011 floods.

They have supported the ongoing services and resources of the Blue Care Community Nursing Services and the Glenwood Aged Care facility including a $250,000 contribution to the community care facilities.

The selection panel felt that economically they are making a big impact on the local community which was commendable but the shop is doing more than fundraising, it provides a vital link in the life of the Lowood community.

Toowoomba Hospice Volunteers

This organisation has been operational for 12 years with a team of around 100 volunteers. It is estimated that volunteer services save the centre around $450,000 per annum conservatively. They have helped around 1,100 clients and their families during extremely difficult times. Some of the services done by volunteers at the organisation include: flower arranging, preparing meals, gardening and maintenance, cleaning, reception and administration duties, fundraising and many more. The selection panel noted that it must be a very well run and well trained body of volunteers to be able to run such a dependable and well-serviced organisation.


Corporate Volunteering Award

Recipient: Deloitte

Deloitte has partnered with Oxfam Australia since 1999 to promote the Oxfam Trailwalker fundraiser in Brisbane. This event raises $1.2 million a year for Oxfam's work overseas. In addition the pro bono work that Deloitte provides Oxfam is currently valued at $1.4 million. They have supported feasibility studies, strategy advice and infrastructure projects, as well as hosting workshops and offering their expertise.


Wilmar Sugar owns and operates eight sugar mills in North and Central Queensland. They run Community Support Programs that financially assist community organisations, schools, clubs and groups.

They also support the State Emergency Service (SES) and make it possible for employees to volunteer and make a difference within their communities during natural events and disasters including the 2010-2011 Queensland floods, Cyclone Yasi, Cyclone Ita, Cyclone Oswald and Cyclone Marcia. Without volunteers with supportive employers the SES would not be able to carry out their function of supporting the community.


Thank you!

Thanks to everyone who attended and celebrated volunteering with us!

A special mention to Ros Bates MP, Member for Mudgeeraba, Shadow Minister for Communities, Child Safety, Disability Services and the Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence (pictured here with our President Ross Wiseman and Committee Member Carlton Meyn).

Thank you also to Rob McMullan for providing wonderful entertainment, including a musical tribute to Queensland's volunteers.

Watch the recipient speeches