Honours for selfless volunteers

Rebecca Trigger

Brendon Lazaroo, Craig Spencer, Joe Tuazama, Sue Hedley, John Van Bockxmeer, Bill Gaynor, Ruth Reid and Dawn Butterworth. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian


West Australians doing everything from helping bring early education to poor areas, rescuing animals from euthanasia and contributing to the wellbeing of indigenous and migrant communities in the north were recognised at the WA Volunteer of the Year awards last night.

Six individuals, a business and an organisation were celebrated at the ceremony at the Hyatt Regency.

Dawn Butterworth, 75, was named WA Volunteer of the Year for her work supporting early childhood education and women's rights in Australia and Papua New Guinea through the National Council of Women WA and World Organisation for Early Childhood Education.

Two years after a cyclone devastated villages in northern PNG in 2007, Dr Butterworth went to the rural town of Poro to help train volunteer teachers who had built a school from scratch.

It was made out of sticks and woven palms on the site of an old American supply base from World War II, Dr Butterworth said.

"My brief was to train some volunteers to be the teachers, and to demonstrate early childhood education, what it looked like, remembering these people had never been in a pre-primary kindergarten," she said.

She has dedicated 55 years of her life to volunteering.

Dr John van Bockxmeer, 28, is Youth Volunteer of the Year. He founded the charity Fair Game, which recycles sports gear and gives it to indigenous and migrant communities.

Sue Hedley from Saving Animals from Euthanasia won the Excellence in Volunteer Management Award for her work co-ordinating foster carers for abandoned animals.

Liberian-born Joe Tuazama won the Edie Hoy Poy Volunteering Award for Ethnic Communities for his leadership in the African community.

Bankwest won the Corporate Volunteer of the Year award and the YMCA Perth Big Brothers Big Sisters program was named Community Volunteer of the Year.

Former RSL WA president Bill Gaynor won the Lifetime Contribution to Volunteering Award jointly with Ruth Reid, who has worked with many charities over almost 50 years.

This week is National Volunteer Week.