Hosted by the Redfern and Waterloo Neighbourhood Advisory Board Events Group, the ceremony was a friendly affair emceed by Michael Modder of Family and Community Services (FACS), with 118 groups, organisations and individuals recognised. Laura Kelly, Redfern Waterloo Community Development Worker at Counterpoint Community Services, said: “This is a staggering number and a true testament to the wonderful communities we live and work in.”
The awards recipients, unpaid volunteers or groups of volunteers whose contributions provide extraordinary help or care to families, individuals or groups in the Waterloo-Redfern area, commit their time, talent and energy to improve the quality of life in the community.
The event commenced with a Welcome to Country from Uncle Allen Madden and a short address by Gemma Rygate, CEO of the Centre for Volunteering, who informed the gathering that the 5.8 million Australians or 31 per cent of the population who engage in volunteering activities and programs make an estimated annual contribution of $290 billion to the Australian economy, which is greater than that of the mining industry.
Recipients were presented with certificates of appreciation signed by Michael Shreenan, Executive Officer of Counterpoint Community Services, and Adrienne Picone, Chief Executive Officer of Volunteering Australia. Gift bags included toiletries, tea-bags, playing cards, note books and other stationery items (courtesy of sponsors Connect Redfern, Waterloo Salvation Army, Sydney Story Factory and Barnardos).
Presenters included City of Sydney Councillor Jess Scully, Superintendent Luke Freudenstein from Redfern Police, and Margaret McCrae of FACS Housing. Musician Sam Pellegrino entertained the crowd of more than 200, and a delicious hot lunch was shared in the sunny weather.
Special recognition was given to Brian Fitzgerald, a “mystery man” who maintains a regular practice of picking up litter and “keeping Redfern clean”. Michael Shreenan presented the Founder’s Choice award to Richard Weeks, chairperson of the Waterloo Public Housing Action Group. The contributions of recently departed volunteers, John English, Ross Smith and Marlene Newton were acknowledged with a memorial slide presentation and respectful silence.
The Indonesian Welfare Association, one of many groups recognised on the day, holds weekly get-togethers at Redfern Town Hall. Each Friday, from 11am to 2.30pm, a group of 30 or more – Indonesian members as well as Filipino and Chinese – enjoys cooking, knitting, English language classes, singing and line-dancing. Visitors are welcome and the cost is just $5.
“The line-dancing is a lot of fun and the teacher is wonderful,” said May Loan Basoeki, who has been a member of the group for six years. “I like to contribute to the lunch – fried vegetables or fried chicken in peanut sauce.”
Evita Purnomo, the association’s treasurer, helps with the cooking as well as general organising. “We have members aged in their 50s and several in their 80s,” she said. “Redfern Town Hall is a good venue. We’ve been there since late April when renovations commenced at our regular home, the Alexandria Town Hall in Garden Street. I think we’ll return to Alexandria in October or November this year.”
Close friend and fellow member Weny Boenawan describes Indonesian culture in terms of welcome, happiness and enjoyment. If you’d like to make contact there’s a Facebook page, or emails may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.