Volunteering North Queensland
Volunteer of the Year Awards

Volunteering North Queensland (VNQ) appreciates the thousands of volunteers contributing to our North / North-West Queensland communities.

The VNQ Conference & Awards, held on 27th & 28th May 2022, celebrated the individuals and leaders that enrich our Northern Queensland communities through volunteer groups and activities in Townsville, Burdekin, Charters Towers, Hinchinbrook, Palm Island and the Overlanders Way.

See the VNQ Conference and Awards 2022 Post Event Report here.

Volunteer of the Year Award

Sponsored by

Anthony "Tonka" Toholke

Anthony is passionate about community and will help any organisation that needs a hand. 

He has raised more than $150,000 for men’s mental health and more than $25,000 for palliative care in Mount Isa.

The many organisations that benefit from Anthony’s volunteering include:

Mount Isa international Men’s Day, Mount Isa Apex, Mount Isa Hockey, Isa Rodeo, Cloncurry Shire Council, Bedourie Sports Club, Mount Isa Show, Royal Flying Doctor Fundraising Ball, Mt Isa Women in Mining Conference in Mt Isa, helping them at the Breast Cancer Fundraising Dinner.





The Volunteer of the Year Award is presented in honour of an individual who has made an exemplary voluntary contribution. This award celebrates those who have made a significant impact towards North Queensland’s well-being through their volunteering.


Youth Volunteer of the Year Award

Sponsored by
The Hunting House

Keely Johnson

Keely is the founder of the Golden Octopus charity and works tirelessly helping children with cancer and their families. Keely has raised over $1million for different charities, and now her own charity. Diagnosed with childhood cancer at 13, Keely started making jewellery from her hospital bed to raise money for other families.

Despite her ongoing health issues, and whilst working as a Assistant in Nursing, Keely who has a beautiful voice, is a well-known music artist and has recently launched her album “Dance Like An Animal” which has spent time at No. 1 on the ARIA Top 20 Australian Country Albums. She also gives her heart and does presentations at fundraisers to help families dealing with cancer locally, and all across Australia.


Presented in honour of an individual (aged between 14 to 24), who has demonstrated an outstanding voluntary commitment to North Queensland. This award celebrates how the nominee positively impacted the lives of others through volunteering.


Lifetime Contribution to Volunteering Award

Sponsored by
Ergon Energy

Ann Dunn

A volunteer since 1963, Ann is currently Treasurer for three different organisations as well as Canteen Convener for the Charters Towers Touch Association. Ann also volunteers with the Charters Towers Cancer Branch, Charters Towers Lions Club and the Visitor Information Centre.

Ann lives for volunteering and never says no to anyone who needs a hand and in a small regional area, this is often.







Presented in honour of an individual who has made an exemplary life-long contribution to volunteering. This award is proudly presented to the nominee whose long-term dedication to giving, clearly demonstrates betterment of the community in North Queensland.


Excellence in Volunteer Management Award

Sponsored by
Queensland Country Bank

Angela Atkinson

Angela Atkinson is the Founder and Director of Townsville Foster and Rehoming Animals (TFRA). Angela saw a need for a group, different to those already offering similar services, to be developed in Townsville to assist with rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming vulnerable animals within the community.

Foster carers act as a temporary, loving family for these animals before they are adopted into their forever family. As the heart and soul of the organisation, Angela directs a group of roughly 90 volunteers.




Presented in honour of a volunteer manager (salaried or non-salaried) who has demonstrated best practice and outstanding performance in the management of volunteers and the delivery of volunteering programs. The award recognises the dedicated individuals who deliver successful volunteering programs.


Volunteering Impact Award

Sponsored by

Kennedy Region Scouts

Kennedy Region Scouts provides fun youth development activities, building resilient and confident children, adolescents, and young adults in the Joey Scout, Cub Scout, Scout, Venturer Scout and Rover Scout sections. Youth members ages range from 5 to 26 years old.

Outside of the development of its youth and volunteer Leaders, Scouts from the Region participate in and support a number of community events and activities such as Clean Up Australia Day, ANZAC Day, Landcare Activities, Italian Festival, Cultural Fest, Towers Rush.


Presented in recognition of a volunteering program or activity that has made a significant impact on the North Queensland community. This can be defined as positive, measurable and sustainable, economic, social, cultural and/or environmental impact.


Corporate Volunteering Award

Sponsored by

Energy Queensland
(Ergon Energy)

Energy Queensland’s Corporate Volunteering Program, provides staff with two days of paid volunteering leave each year. The program is available to more than 7400 staff, and covers every community from the Cardwell Range, to Bowen and out beyond Mount Isa.

Staff can volunteer as a team or individual staff members can do their own volunteering activity, ensuring that each volunteer activity is meaningful to the staff and benefits the communities.
Staff have contributed thousands of hours volunteering and fundraising for hundreds of charities and community organisations all across North Queensland.


Presented in recognition of an North Queensland based business that has contributed volunteer hours through an employee volunteering program. The program is able to demonstrate the significant positive outcomes brought about in the North Queensland community.