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Inspiring volunteers making meaningful contributions

31 October 2023

Volunteering Northern Territory is shining a light on volunteers, volunteer managers and volunteer organisations who have made an outstanding contribution to their volunteering efforts and have positively impacted the lives of others.

The 2023 Northern Territory Volunteer of the Year Awards are being held in Central Australia on Tuesday, 31st October, and in the Top End on Thursday, 2nd November, 2023.

Volunteering gives meaning to the art of giving due to its significant impact on the lives of individuals, communities and not-for-profit organisations.

Volunteering NT Executive Manager Megan Saltmarsh said the 2023 prestigious awards would showcase the many valuable members of our community.

“The 2023 Northern Territory Volunteer of the Year Awards celebrates our volunteers and their significant role in all aspects of community life. Through interconnected actions, volunteers' work undoubtedly enhances our communities' strength and vibrancy,” Megan said.

“These important awards promote the important contribution of volunteering to the social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being of the Northern Territory. It is an opportunity for the community to acknowledge and recognise the positive impact their generous giving of time, energy and commitment has across all aspects of our social connections.

“Volunteering performs a vital role in helping to deliver the programs, services and events people of the Northern Territory depend upon. It can offer ways to build friendships and connections in the community,develop new skills and pathways to employment, and improve personal health and wellbeing. Volunteeringcan provide meaningful connections and create a sense of belonging for people as they support one anotherand contribute towards goals that benefit the community.”

For the 2022 Youth Volunteer of the Year award recipient, Alina Biju, who grew up in Katherine, volunteering helped her socially connect with like-minded people.

“While I love the personal reward of volunteering, receiving the NT award last year spurred me on to keep volunteering and doing more for social good. When I moved to Darwin to study biomedical science at the University of Charles Darwin, I recognised a gap for women and formed the Women Collective Club, which now has more than 180 members. The club meets to discuss women’s issues and challenges and had the opportunity to meet with the Minister for Women to discuss key issues. We also hold a celebratory end-of-year annual ball,” Alina said.

“Volunteering also connected me with a mentor who has been integral in my personal life and studies. The skills I developed while volunteering have transferred to other areas in study and work, which is a great benefit.”

The many advantages of youth volunteering to the individual cannot be underestimated – a report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies revealed the intangible benefits of youth volunteering, including a reduction of the potential for poor mental health by 28 per cent.

There is also a serious message behind the 2023 NT Volunteer Awards. The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal that the Territory is experiencing a 5 per cent decline in volunteering numbers, reflecting the national trend.

“The way people volunteer is changing, but the purpose behind it is not. We also need to give our young people opportunities to engage positively and meaningfully for our local volunteering community to thrive in the future,” Megan said.

“We know many people from all walks of life generously devote their time and resources to activities and causes that positively impact communities and people’s lives. We see this through the incredible award nominations, but we also see this in our everyday lives. Recognising and thanking volunteers at every opportunity is just as important as these awards.”

The Awards, established in 2014, are an initiative of Volunteering SA&NT. Nominations are assessed by an

independent judging panel chaired by Volunteering NT. The categories are:

1. Chief Minister’s Volunteer of the Year Award

2. Chief Minister’s Youth Volunteer of the Year Award

3. Chief Minister’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Volunteer of the Year Award

4. NT SESVA Emergency Services Youth Volunteer of the Year Award

5. Emergency Services Volunteer of the Year Award

6. INPEX Community Volunteer Organisation/Team of the Year Award

7. Excellence in Volunteer Management Award

8. Higher Education/TAFE Student Volunteer of the Year Award

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