By Stephen Easton and Yasmin Noone

Nominations are now open for the 2012 National Volunteer Awards, which recognise and celebrate those people who go above and beyond the call of an already generous vocation in their work with not-for-profit organisations.

This year’s awards include a Senior Volunteer of the Year category for the first time, as recommended by the Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians

All Australians are invited to nominate exceptional volunteers in their community who donate their time to assist not-for-profit organisations.

Senior Australian and active community volunteer, Frank Violi from Adelaide, won a National Volunteer Award last year. 

As the current president and former long-serving secretary of the Italian Pensioners of Thebarton and Suburbs, Mr Violi was nominated for his valuable contribution to his local community and to the process of preserving older Italian-Australian traditions.

“Part of my role involves organising social activities every Wednesday. We play cards and bocce, bingo,” Mr Violi said as he mentioned a few of his many community-oriented duties. 

“These activities bring older people out of isolation, bring them together to pass a few hours, and get them to chat and do social activities or exercise.”

Nominated by a fellow member of his local community, Mr Violi recalls how privileged he felt to be recognised for his efforts.

“I was very thrilled because someone out there realised the work that I do. That boosts my ego and so I commit myself to volunteering a bit more.”

Mr Violi said he also volunteers at his local church and at other fundraising events.

‘It is important for the government to recognise what the older generations are doing to keep some of the traditions going and to keep ourselves out of isolation.

“There are people out there doing a lot of work, putting in a lot of time and effort. They are giving their time away although they are enjoying it. But they should be recognised and appreciated.”

Get nominating now

Federal MP’s will accept nominations throughout September and October and will host award ceremonies across the country to celebrate the achievements of local volunteering heroes.

The awards were launched this week by the Minister for Mental Health, Ageing and Social Inclusion, Mark Butler, who gave a nod to the 6 million Australians who volunteer in communities across the country.

“We rely heavily on people who generously volunteer their time, energy and expertise to deliver services across welfare, sport, disability, emergency services, human rights and environmental sectors, to name just a few,” Mr Butler said.

National Volunteer Award categories include: 

  1. MP’s Volunteer of the Year 
  2. Junior Volunteer Award (17 and under) 
  3. Youth Volunteer Award (18-25) 
  4. Senior Volunteer Award (65 and over) 
  5. Business Volunteer Award 
  6. Education Award 
  7. Emergency Management Volunteer Award 
  8. Environment Award 
  9. Innovation in Volunteering Award (organisation or individual) 
  10. Long–term Commitment to Community Service Award

For information on application procedures contact your local federal Member of Parliament or visit

Nominations are also still open until 14 September for the NSW Volunteer Awards, which have included a Senior Volunteer category since they were launched in 2007.

The 2011 NSW Senior Volunteer of the Year Award went to Margaret Hardy of Saratoga, north of Sydney, who was recognised last year for her commitment over 37 years to the Central Coast Art Society, of which she is president and secretary.

She also won the award and the $1,000 not-for-profit donation, trophy and prize pack that goes with it  for giving “innumerable hours” to ten other organisations each week.

Above: Margaret Hardy receiving the 2011 NSW Senior Volunteer of the Year Award from NSW Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Victor Dominello.

Ms Hardy is a member of the Gosford Regional Gallery Advisory Committee, secretary of Multi Arts Confederation and Friends of Caroline Bay Inc and editor of their monthly magazine, as well as secretary of the Gosford Sister City Organisation (Gosford’s sister city is Edogawa, Japan).

She also sits on the committee of Friends of the Performing Arts Precinct, is president and secretary of the Kincumber School of Arts and a volunteer at Radio Five-0-Plus, and she is also a member of Central Coast Enviro Network.

But that is not all the tireless volunteer does for her community. Ms Hardy is also a member of the Central Coast Disability Network and the International Women’s Day Organisation, as well as providing care for her disabled son who was injured in a hit and run accident.

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