Volunteering North Queensland
2023 Volunteer of the Year Awards

Nominations for the 2024 Volunteer of the Year Awards coming soon…

Congratulations to the winners of the VNQ 2023 Volunteer of the Year Awards  announced at a Mayoral Civic Reception on Thursday 18th May 2023.



Robyn has made a significant impact on the North Queensland Community through her involvement with CORES Queensland (Community Response to Eliminating Suicide) since 2010. She has helped to train over 2000 community members in Townsville, which has increased awareness and knowledge of suicide prevention and mental health.

Her efforts have extended beyond Townsville as she has volunteered to train in other communities, which has had a positive impact on more people. Furthermore, Robyn has demonstrated her commitment to suicide prevention and mental health advocacy by volunteering to sit on the CORES Australia board for a number of years. This has allowed her to have a wider impact on suicide prevention efforts across Australia.

Robyn’s impact on the North Queensland Community extends beyond suicide prevention as she has volunteered and advocated for other organisations such as Seniors Creating Change Townsville. Her involvement in these organisations has helped to create positive change in the lives of seniors in Townsville and has made a difference in the community.

Robyn Moore, CORES QLD
with Mayor Jenny Hill and VNQ President, Emily Sehu

Robyn’s contribution to the Townsville community has been significant and noteworthy. Her dedication to suicide prevention through her involvement with CORES Queensland is particularly commendable. Suicide prevention training is not an easy task, and it takes a special, caring individual to create a safe space where difficult conversations can take place. Robyn’s caring and patient nature has made her an excellent example of the type of person required to deliver this confronting but valuable training. Furthermore, Robyn’s long-term commitment to the program has directly saved lives in the community. Her selfless efforts in training over 2000 community members in Townsville and volunteering to train in other communities have made a positive impact and contributed to a safer and healthier community. In summary, Robyn’s significant contribution to the Townsville community through her involvement with CORES Queensland and other organisations, along with her caring and patient nature, make her a truly remarkable individual. The Townsville community is fortunate to have someone like Robyn who is committed to making a positive difference in the lives of others. 



Taryn is a foundation member of our Charters Towers Emergency Services Cadets Unit and volunteers her time at 90% of our Volunteering opportunities such as the Community Markets and our monthly fundraising BBQ’s.

Her natural leadership abilities make her the perfect mentor to our younger Cadets and has made her a natural choice for PCYC’s ESCape Week program that is only offered to the best cadet from each Unit.

Taryn has also played an important role in our community with a Council initiative called the Youth Development Group where she was a Youth Councillor and consultant for ideas and implementations affecting the youth of Charters Towers.

She has also helped to establish and plays in the first female football team for Charters Towers. Taryn comes from a musical family and she has taken out the Junior Bursary Winner at the Dalrymple Country Music Festival and has more recently been a contestant in the Hughenden Country Music Talent festival. Taryn also volunteers her time mustering cattle in her ‘spare time’.

Taryn started with our Cadet Unit as a shy 12 year old (now 17) and has worked her way up to the Cadet Leader rank with an aspiration to continue into Adult leadership.

Taryn Woodard, Charters Towers Emergency Services 
Cadet Unit 
with Mayor Jenny Hill and VNQ President, Emily Sehu

Taryn shows initiative beyond her years and is quite capable of running training nights, camps and events for our Cadet Unit. Her warm and engaging personality lends itself well to her mentor role, along with her impeccable attendance record makes her the best candidate for PCYC’s State Youth Leadership Program which she has been nominated for recently. It has been a true inspiration to witness her transformation from a shy kid to a confident young woman who has the potential to be a well-respected leader within the Charters Towers community.




Margaret has been volunteering with NQ Wildlife for 42 years. In that time Margaret has rescued and rehabilitated thousands of native animals. Margaret specialises in critical care for young joeys that have lost their mothers. We call them pinkies. They have no hair and are unable to regulate their body weight which means around the clock care to ensure the joey is kept at the correct temperature as well as feeding through the night.

Margaret can have up to 12 joeys in care at a time. There is always a line of Bettongs following her around her house. The Bettongs are another species of macropod that Margaret specialises in. Margaret also cares for Echidna Puggles and full grown echidna. She used to also catch the snakes and other reptiles for NQ Wildlife. Her career as a volunteer wildlife carer and rescuer has been such a gift to Australian wildlife.

I am nominating Margaret today as she has mentored just about every macropod, echidna, bettong carer in Townsville and surrounding areas and her input over the years to North Queensland Wildlife has been extraordinary. 

Margaret Neihoff, North Qld Wildlife Carers
with Mayor Jenny Hill and VNQ President, Emily Sehu

Margaret is also a representative of Queensland Wildlife Rehabilitation Councils District 3: Northern Region Savannah – Townsville Marine Carers under Margaret know they can call any time day or night for first aid for their animals in care and is always there for you. Personally, I have rocked up at 5am with a dying joey in my arms that Margaret has been able to save. Her contribution to North Queensland Wildlife Care INC to Townsville and to Australia’s wildlife in general has been immense, and without people like Margaret championing the grassroots of wildlife care and rehabilitation we wouldn’t have the knowledge we now have on wildlife care in Australia. Margaret is a walking encyclopedia on wildlife care.



Wendy Hume has supervised volunteers for 13 years and has exhibited outstanding leadership and dedication to supporting the community through the Safe Alert Alarms program. The volunteer team adds significant value to the service by regularly calling the people they serve in the program across North Queensland, asking them to test the alert and ensure that it is working. They do more than that though. They provide social contact and a listening ear as well. In the event of an emergency, the alarm provides a way to contact emergency services from anywhere in the home or garden with just a press of a button. The volunteers exhibit exceptional patience and communication skills as they interact with customers who may be hard of hearing and those who do not speak English. Through their efforts, they provide peace of mind for the alarm user and their family, helping people stay connected with the community for longer.

Wendy fosters a team spirit that is more like a family than a workplace which is reflected in the low turnover of volunteers.

Wendy Hume, Blue Care
with Mayor Jenny Hill and VNQ President, Emily Sehu

Wendy even keeps in contact with past volunteers, understanding and valuing that volunteers are looking for that connection. Wendy manages personalities and challenges professionally and has even organised emotional intelligence training to help them understand themselves and each other better. She enjoys supporting volunteers living with disabilities to help them stay connected and feel part of the team, enabling them to make a meaningful difference in the community through their volunteering. Additionally, Wendy goes above and beyond by investing personally into thank you morning teas etc to appreciate the volunteers.

In the last 12-18 months, Wendy has been regularly advocating up to her line mangers stories and statistics to demonstrate the volunteers’ contributions to the program. Last financial year, Wendy provided a report highlighting the significant financial value added to the Safe Alert program by volunteers. The financial report showed the cost of volunteering including their time spent coordinating, training and supervising vs the donations made personally, and the time contributed by volunteers. I believe that the report was influential in the release of finances to pay last year’s Christmas Morning Tea.




VRAP is a non-profit, volunteer driven in-house visitation program run by the St Vincent De Paul Society that aims to provide English language and cultural support for refugee families all over Townsville. Pairs of volunteers visit the homes of refugee families who have arrived in Australia. Tutors help children and parents with school and TAFE homework, conversation practice, letter reading, game playing and understanding of cultural practices. The list is endless and guided by the needs of each family. They also provide discounted driving lessons to refugees to enable them to drive and be mobile around Townsville. The volunteers are of various ages and come from varied walks of life. No experience is needed – just an interest in assisting our new residents. Regular tutor meetings provide opportunities for tutors to share their experiences, raise any issues and broaden their knowledge of both refugee issues and how best to assist the families.

Another VRAP activity is family visits, where pairs of volunteers (Conference Members – these are members of the Blessed Rosalie Rendu Conference, associated with the St Vincent De Paul Society) visit families now and then. These visits are a way to stay in touch and to ensure the families know that there are people interested in their welfare. The visits help them to keep in touch with each family in the program, and to ensure the family is being supported with clothing and other requirements.

Juliette and Davina, Vinnies Refugee Assistance Program
with Mayor Jenny Hill and VNQ President, Emily Sehu

One beautiful example of how they assist refugees is a particular family lost the patriarch and could not afford a culturally appropriate funeral for him. The VRAP team assisted them financially so they could give him a proper send off. They also won a grant to provide driving lessons to refugees so they can get their licence. They also provide kitchen items, clothing and home items for families who have come to Townsville with virtually nothing so they can settle into their homes. They are an absolutely beautiful bunch of volunteers who donate their time to assist families that otherwise would have minimal support and would find it hard to fit in.



Ray White Townsville has been an ongoing supporter of RMHC North Australia for years. They always support our wish list campaigns by providing much needed household and grocery items, sometimes over the value of $2000 per delivery. They are always very supportive at Christmas and Easter time by donating presents, chocolate eggs and Easter packages that they’ve made themselves. But this year, they have gone above and beyond by locking in 4 dates across the year to allow their employees to come to the House and take part in our “Feast with Friends” experience. This is where a business pays a donation to the House to cover grocery costs, and allows up to 10x employees time off work to come to the House and cook dinner for our families. They do everything, from prepare the meals, to prepare the space and furniture for all of our House guests to eat, to serving our families, to cleaning up and packing up the space following dinner.

Because they have 40 plus employees, they have locked in 4 dates this year so each of their staff has the opportunity to volunteer at the House and take part in the “Feast with Friends” experience.

Teena and Jasmine, representing Ray White Townsville
with Mayor Jenny Hill and VNQ President, Emily Sehu

These experiences make such a huge difference to the lives of our families that stay at the House. It creates distraction from dealing with their child’s severe illness or injury, the constant hospital visits and doctors’ appointments. It forces the families to come out of their rooms and interact with each other, which helps their mental health by showing them that they are part of a community, and they don’t have to deal with their sometimes overwhelming life traumas on their own. It also means they get a beautiful home cooked meal for their whole family, and all the leftovers are frozen into individual portions and left in the communal freezers for anyone to eat after a long day at the hospital.

Nothing is ever too much for Ray White Townsville. They have assisted RMHC North Australia on so many occasions over the past few years, and donated countless hours and items to the House. Without the incredible support of businesses like Ray White Townsville, RMHC North Australia would not be able to provide the support of our 5 care programs to 5,000 families yearly.