THE extraordinary efforts of our volunteer army were recognised at a special celebration this month.
The Western Health National Volunteer Week Appreciation Event was held at Club Italia, with hundreds of volunteers, school students and community partners treated to a lunch of roast lamb or chicken parmigiana and a giant cake, as a thank you for their hard work.
The service awards were also announced at the event, honouring those who have dedicated as many as 45 years to volunteering at Western Health.
The day was a roaring success, with volunteers carving up the dance floor at the end of formalities, and posing for pictures in the photo booth.
CEO Russell Harrison said the luncheon was one of the most important events on the Western Health calendar, acknowledging a group of people “whose significant contributions don’t always get the recognition they deserve”.
“Western Health is extremely fortunate to have the biggest volunteer team of any of the major Melbourne health services, with 650 community-minded citizens generously offering their time,” he said.
“Add to that 250 students – from grade 4 through to VCE – involved in various school partnership programs, and you’ve got a volunteer network that is the envy of any health service, anywhere.”
He said it was a privilege to witness the exceptional work being done by volunteers for patients across our wards and departments.
“Every single day I see the invaluable difference you make to the experiences of patients, families, visitors and staff of Western Health,” he said.
“And you’ve got a remarkable bag of tricks. At last count, there were 35 distinct roles for volunteers across Western Health. And together – whether you are a visitor guide or fundraiser, administrator or gardener, or whether you help support patients at meal time, or call bingo at Hazeldean, or look after kids while their parents are being treated in ED – you help underpin all we do at Western Health.”
Community Engagement & Volunteers Manager Jo Spence paid tribute to the generosity of volunteers, and shared some of their inspiring stories when announcing the service awards.
“It is through the time that you all give as volunteers that does bring about change ,” said Ms Spence, who was last year awarded the Volunteer Manager Award of Excellence by the Australasian Association for Managers of Volunteers.
“The fact that a family knows that their loved one will have specific help at meal time changes a family’s stress levels. The fact that a volunteer will help to divert a patient who may be getting agitated to look at the garden, or, to sit and listen to the newspaper being read, can change the mood of the day that a nurse might be having. The fact that a patient hasn’t got any toiletries, but know that they can buy them off the volunteer patient support trolley and have a nice chat and a smile for free – will lift the state of that patient’s wellbeing.”