Wednesday, 5 September 2018

The Andrews Labor Government is celebrating the tireless work and commitment of Melissa Ferguson from Gippsland, who is among almost 60 incredible Victorians shortlisted for the 2018 Premier’s Volunteer Champion Awards.

Ms Ferguson founded Gippsland Farmer Relief Inc two years ago to collect food donations and distribute them to farmers in need. Her efforts have inspired a whole community. With a warehouse and office in Traralgon and teams of volunteers helping with deliveries, donations and counselling, Melissa is spreading hope to farmers and families throughout the region. She is an inspiration.

Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos and Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Harriet Shing, revealed the shortlist of local heroes who will each be celebrated at the Awards Ceremony at Government House on 9 September.

During the morning, one will be named Victoria’s Volunteer of the Year, taking home the prestigious Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Trophy and $10,000 for a charity of their choice.

Twenty-year old equality advocate Riley Briese was last year awarded the title for his work with transgender people in regional Victoria, including creating the Wodonga Gateway Health Gender Service.

The Premier’s Volunteer Champion Awards recognise, celebrate and thank Victoria’s 1.5 million volunteers for the incredible impact they have across communities, services and connections.

They contribute more than $23 billion to the state economy, a figure that is expected to jump to $42 billion by 2021.

More than 260 Victorians were nominated for their individual and team volunteering efforts in every corner of society, from emergency services to the arts, sports to health, ageing and disability services.

To learn more about this year’s volunteers, or to find out about the Premier’s Volunteer Champion Awards, visit volunteer.vic.gov.au/awards.

Quote attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“It’s truly an honour to share the stories of volunteers from Gippsland – they are making a difference every day in the lives of others, and this is something worth celebrating.”

Quote attributable to Parliamentary Secretary for Carers and Volunteers Gabrielle Williams

“Volunteers play a critical part in every sector of our society, and I hope the stories of this year’s shortlist inspire more Victorians to get involved, lend a hand and recognise volunteers around them.”

Quote attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Harriet Shing:

“Every day in Gippsland we have wonderful people giving up their time for others – these awards are our way of saying thanks.”