Shayne Neumann MP
Federal Member for Blair

Australian Labor
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2015 Blair Volunteer Awards


Volunteers do not help out because they want thanks or reward; they do it because of a desire to be part of their community, and to provide opportunities for others in schools, community groups, sporting clubs and churches. More than six million Australians generously volunteer their time, energy and expertise each year and, through more than 730 million hours of unpaid work, provide an estimated benefit to the Australian economy of $16 billion.

I want to congratulate 41 volunteers in the Blair community. Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of hosting the 2015 Blair Volunteer Awards, where we recognised the outstanding contribution of many individuals. There were 11 volunteer category winners and over 30 outstanding volunteers who have given of their time to the community, and they were recognised as well. I want to name a number of them and speak briefly about them.

John Robinson was the worthy winner of the 2015 Blair Volunteer Veterans Award. John is a Vietnam veteran who has provided years of dedicated service to the Kilcoy RSL Sub Branch in a number of positions, including branch president. John is also heavily involved in the wider Kilcoy community. It almost seems there is no committee in the Kilcoy community that he is not involved in.

George and Barbara Millard received the 2015 Blair Volunteer Senior Award for their work with Ozcare's Mozart Program, which provides recreational opportunities for adults with disability living in the Ipswich area.

Donna Reggett received the 2015 Blair Volunteer Disability Awareness Award. Donna has volunteered in many roles from the local to the national level. She is one of my community's most passionate and dedicated advocates for veterans and mental health support. She is a founder and president of Operation PTSD Support, which facilitates respite retreats for partners of military veterans and emergency services personnel experiencing mental health issues such as PTSD. Her daughter, Nicole Reggett, received the 2015 Blair Volunteer Youth Award. She is a quiet achiever and has been a member of the Ipswich PCYC Youth Committee since 2006 and is an active member of Operation PTSD Support.

Alice Metz was a very worthy recipient of the 2015 Blair Volunteer Junior Award. She is an exceptional young person, who gives generously of her time. She is involved in the Air Force Cadet Program at the RAAF Base at Amberley. She is a natural role model, and, despite her own health problems, which are a numerous, has a strong and practical sense of social justice.

Trudy O'Grady, whom I have known for many years, was awarded the 2015 Blair Volunteer Emergency Management Award. She began her State Emergency Service career as a cadet at age nine and is now Deputy Group Lead at Ipswich SES where she is renowned for her fantastic leadership skills.

Marilyn Spletter received the 2015 Blair Volunteer Environment Award for her lifelong dedication to our native flora and fauna. She has volunteers all the time in koala conservation. She has in the last 20 years hand raised orphaned baby koalas, possums and gliders and is vice-president of the Ipswich Koala Protection Society.

John Bopf, known as 'Mr Squash' in Ipswich, has given over 40 years service to this sport. He has been president of the Ipswich Squash Racquets Association for 42 years and received the 2015 Blair Long Term Commitment Award.

The Ipswich West State School Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden team was acknowledged for their community service and their stellar work and garden success at the school.

Reg Tohia was the very popular winner of the 2015 Blair Volunteer Education Award. Reg, a Maori elder, is a beloved figure at my old high school, Bundamba State Secondary College, where he has volunteered for 13 years. He was nominated by Bundamba principal, Kathy Morrison, who attended the awards ceremony together with other school staff. Kathy says Reg volunteers the same hours each week to the college as a full-time teacher and that his role in the P&C has been critical. He also represents the community at Anzac Day services.

Finally, Steph Shannon OAM received the award that I personally chose: the 2015 Blair Volunteer MP Award. Steph is an amazing person. She retired from her career as paediatric nurse after 47 years and now volunteers about 20 hours each week to help grieving children at Hilda's House at Ipswich Hospice Care. She was instrumental in steering the hospice's kids' grief group where she has helped hundreds of children and their families on their grief journey. After Steph spoke at the awards ceremony, there weren't many dry eyes in the room, I can say. Ipswich Hospice director Wendy Bryce nominated Steph saying that the most common description of Steph is simply 'an inspiration.' She is a worthy winner.

Congratulations to all those people whose service and commitment have improved our local community.