Colyton’s Susan Robertson has taken home the top honour at the local Volunteer of the Year Awards for her role in progressing people’s welfare and mental health as a volunteer chaplain for St John Ambulance NSW.
As well as providing chaplaincy and pastoral care for members, Ms Robertson was recognised for her countless hours spent providing counselling for others who have been through trauma in their volunteer work.
“I was just flabbergasted, it just took me by surprise,” Ms Robertson said.
“I think in the field that I am in, the greatest payment is to see volunteers live fully functional lives.”
Ms Robertson is using her platform as the winner to highlight the need for mental health strategies for volunteer first responders that are battling trauma, fatigue and PTSD.
“When you have people giving altruistically, being there for the community, the reward cannot be mental illness. We need to do something about our wonderful volunteers,” he said.
“They witness some horrendous stuff, and if we’re not there to watch their mental health, to do something proactive, then we’re really failing them.”
Centre for Volunteering CEO, Gemma Rygate, said the awards recognise the nation working hard at a grassroots level to deliver resilient and compassionate communities.
Werrington’s Helen Williams was awarded Senior Volunteer of the Year for her tireless work at Clairgate Public School, while the Nepean Cancer Council Information Service was also awarded Volunteer Team of the Year for their remarkable work.
Emily Newton is the Weekender’s police and political reporter. Emily is also the Weekender’s Senior Journalist.