The team which cared for burned wildlife in the South Coast bushfires and a man providing mental health care to Scouts have reached the NSW finals of the Volunteer of the Year awards.
WIRES Mid South Coast branch members and Paul Hamer were today recognised for their outstanding contributions at a virtual ceremony.
WIRES was named Volunteer Team of the Year for the South Coast region. The branch cares for wildlife from Milton to Tilba.
Mr Hamer, co-founder of the Scouts Mental Health First Aid for Youth program, was named South Coast Volunteer of the Year.
Organisers said the WIRES team's 97 members gave their land and lounge rooms to help care for sick and injured animals after the fires.
"More than 2,750 rescues were made over that period, in the most dire and desperate circumstances," they said.
"The team also includes three trained volunteer shooters who take on the responsibility to humanely euthanize injured animals."
Mr Hamer, a high school teacher from Catalina, near Batemans Bay, helped establish the Mental Health First Aid for Youth program for the NSW Scout organisation.
"Paul has helped train over 200 scout leaders across NSW in vital skills to identify and help support young people experiencing mental health issues," organisers said.
Tathra resident Carleen Maley was named South Coast Senior Volunteer of the Year.
"Carleen has been supporting multiple causes and organisations and thousands of people throughout the Far South Coast and other remote regions for the past four decades," organisers said.
"She has given more than 60,000 hours of her time over this period for the VIEW Club of Australia, the Bega District and Pambula Hospitals and Telstra Connected Seniors program. She has helped raise more than $1 million for the Smith Family, but her contribution across so many other areas of support has been immeasurable."
About 100 special guests, volunteers and community leaders attended the virtual event to recognise and celebrate the region's volunteers.
The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are an annual program run by The Centre for Volunteering which has grown to become one of the largest celebrations of volunteering across the country.
Regional finalists for the awards are announced at 25 ceremonies throughout NSW and are invited to the Gala State Ceremony for the announcement of the 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year.
The 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are supported by principal partners the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and ClubsNSW, which represents the state's 1,400 not-for-profit clubs.
The Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said: "Volunteers from across every region of NSW have continued to give their time, energy and compassion in the face of enormous adversity over the past 12 months. This is what the Australian spirit is all about. Helping others. Helping your community and never giving up. I couldn't be more proud of the region's volunteers and their incredible resilience and spirit. We are just so glad that technology allowed us to still come together to say thank you."
NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said: "Volunteers are the essence and flavour of our regional communities. They're the people raising money for vital causes, they're there for us in terms of emergency and they're the friend on the end of a phone breaking the cycle of isolation. We can't put a price on volunteers. These regional awards ceremonies are an opportunity to thank all our volunteers and to recognise the best and brightest."
Clubs NSW CEO Josh Landis said: "Volunteers are the backbone of registered clubs across the state, so it was a natural fit for the industry to support such an important program. Congratulations to all the volunteers who were recognised at today's ceremony for their dedication and commitment. Volunteers from across NSW have continued to give of their time and effort to help others, while facing so much adversity from bushfires, drought and the impacts of COVID-19. I'm proud to represent an industry where 32,000 volunteers help to make clubs such great places."