Palliative Care NSW Volunteer Support Services Programme
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Far West’s Mary Leehane in the finals for volunteer management excellence award

From the original article in the Barrier Daily Truth, Saturday, 4th November 2017.

A Broken Hill woman who manages the work of over 200 volunteers from the South Australian and Victorian borders, north to Tibooburra and east to Ivanhoe has been selected as a finalist in the 2017 NSW Volunteer of the Year awards. Mary Leehane is Volunteer Manager for the Far West Local Health District (FWLHD) which covers an area of 193,000 square miles with a population of approximately 32,000.

She was nominated for the Volunteer of the Year awards in the Excellence in Volunteer Management category. Volunteers are involved in a wide range of operations including the hospital kiosk, rehabilitation services, dementia support, drug and alcohol programs, mental health, palliative care, family support and physical activity programs such as Tai Chi and aqua classes.

She helped implement programs such as the Palliative Care Biography Team and others which were developed to make the most of the limited resources of a small community and provide innovative local solutions to the problems of living in a remote area.

She centralised the volunteer program’s administration in Broken Hill and established formal procedures for volunteering, including training and at the same time forged links with organisations such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Volunteers have been quick to respond to the inclusive approach she has developed and regard her with affection. A thank you card from one of her students on the wall of her office reads: “I would like to start by saying thank you. Thank you for being the most inspiring, loving, energetic, kind, compassionate, nurturing, strong beautiful supervisor….for watching out and supporting me”.

Chief Executive Officer of The Centre for Volunteering Gemma Rygate, said the valuable work of volunteer managers needs to be acknowledged. “They are the people who ensure the volunteering experience is a good one. They help retain and grow, develop and recruit volunteers to ensure the essential work of volunteers continues to be done.”

The Awards Patron, the Minister for Multiculturalism and Minister for Disability Services, the Hon Ray Williams said volunteering was an excellent way to give back to our community. “These awards are an opportunity to acknowledge the essential work of volunteers, and the vital role of corporate volunteer managers who recruit and develop their volunteers,” he said.

“The NSW Government is proud to support these awards because we understand the significant social and economic value of volunteering, he said.”

ClubsNSW CEO Anthony Ball said the club industry was proud to be Principal Partners of the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards. “On behalf of our 1200 member clubs, we are very proud to support this Awards program which shines a spotlight on the 2.3 million volunteers in NSW. “Clubs across NSW rely upon over 40,000 volunteers to assist in their operations to provide services to members and their local communities.”

Pic: Mary Leehane.

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