State’s Best Volunteers Named


2 December 2020

Volunteering Queensland revealed the recipients of the 2020 Queensland Volunteering Awards today in its first ever virtual awards program, ahead of International Volunteer Day this Saturday 05 December.

Volunteering Queensland CEO Mara Basanovic said despite the many challenges of 2020, the organisation received the largest number of nominations ever, with more than 240 nominations received.

“Volunteers are the largest workforce in Australia and provide a significant economic and social impact to society. Many businesses would simply not be able to function without the valuable and important contribution of volunteers.”

“Of course, 2020 has been a year like no other, in which we have seen the value of volunteers really come to the fore. Throughout isolation we have come to understand the importance of human connection, and have seen more people wanting to connect, give back and contribute to society through volunteering.”

Ms Basanovic said that recipients were recognised across six award categories highlighting the diversity of volunteering roles.

“The awards highlight the many types of civic service that volunteers contribute to our society. From sporting clubs and community groups through to the organisations and volunteer coordinators who support, mentor and provide opportunities for volunteers – it really does take a village.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to pay special tribute to each and every one of our nominees and thank you for your selfless and tireless contributions – you are the unsung heroes of our community.

Queensland Volunteer of the Year Liz Downes was recognised for over 40 years of volunteering service and her significant contribution to wildlife conservation and historic preservation.

Earlier this year Liz was also awarded the Heart of Volunteering award by Volunteering North Queensland and said she was surprised to receive the Queensland Volunteer of the Year award.

“I started volunteering as I was interested in local wildlife. While wildlife conservation seems so big, I feel it is better to do something, even small, rather than nothing at all.”

“I love what I do so it doesn’t feel like hard work for me. I really enjoy learning new skills, meeting likeminded people and knowing that I am making a valuable and important contribution to the community.”

Winner of the Youth Volunteering Award Jak Hardy has been volunteering for more than a decade and was recognised for his passion and dedication to many human rights issues.

Jak is passionate about building communities with purpose and empowering individuals to live with dignity.

This year has shown us that when we take everything away, the connections we have with other people and our communities are the most important thing.”

“To me, volunteering my time and contributing to various projects and people has shown that a little change can make a significant and long term impact.”

The 2020 Queensland Volunteering Awards are available to stream on the Volunteering Queensland YouTube channel from Wednesday 2 December 2020. Members of the public are invited to view the online awards at:

Award recipients include: 

  • Volunteer of the Year: Liz Downes 
  • Lifetime Contribution to Volunteering: Vicki Warren 
  • Youth Volunteering Award: Jak Hardy 
  • Volunteer Management Award: Susan Solakovic 
  • Volunteering Impact Award: Karuna Hospice Services – Palliative Care Support and Biography Volunteer Program 
  • Corporate Award: RACQ Foundation Assistance Projects