Clarence Valley Council’s inaugural mayor, Dr Ian Tiley, was last night named the 2021 NSW Northern Rivers Volunteer of the Year.
Doctor Tiley’s volunteering, as an Aboriginal development advocate, was cited as the reason for his selection – he was also named the 2021 Senior Volunteer of the Year.
Dr Tiley has volunteered with Community First Development since 2002, working on 27 projects across 12 Aboriginal communities in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia.
“His volunteering has resulted in successful funding proposals that have allowed organisations to keep their doors open and continue to provide services to Aboriginal communities,” The Centre for Volunteering wrote in a media release.
“[He has been involved in] mentoring in governance and administration, development of business and operational planning documents, the establishment of transparent finance and accounts systems, and the creation of local and regional partnerships.”
Dr Tiley said, in the past, he hasn’t been one to “talk too much”, about his work in Aboriginal communities, however, he told the Independent that he “tries to make a difference”.
“For me, it’s all about capacity building of the leaders in Aboriginal communities,” he said.
“I do things like preparing strategic plans, business plans, grant applications and project management.
“And in the process created a network of beautiful people in Aboriginal communities all over Australia – elders in Aboriginal communities crave the skills they need.”
How does your work assist self-determination for those communities?
“We all know successes in ‘Closing the Gap’ is limited; my strong view is that by enabling people to determine their futures will effectively address the various Close the Gap targets.
Doctor Tiley said there were “opportunities” for skilled retirees and others to help close the gap.
“With the lifelong business and commercial skills of those who are, perhaps, retired, they could do nothing better than volunteering to assist Aboriginal communities,” he said.
“That is the way to close the gap and enable Aboriginal people to determine their own futures.”
The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards, which are run by The Centre for Volunteering, recognise the outstanding effort of volunteers working across all sections of communities throughout NSW.
The awards are supported by principal partners, the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and ClubsNSW, which represents the state’s 1,400 not-for-profit clubs.
Other Northern Rivers award winners were:
Adult Volunteer of the Year, Mark Wilson from Goonellabah, a “nursery manager at Friends of the Koala Inc, has propagated and distributed tens of thousands of koala food trees, as well as educate hundreds of people through school talks and educational days”.
Volunteer Team of the Year, Byron Bay Community Association Management Committee, “gives about 80 hours of volunteer time a week … providing invaluable support to Byron Community Centre staff in running community services, markets and community events, and managing the Byron Theatre”.
The inaugural NSW State of Volunteering Report found that volunteers contribute more than $127 billion to NSW annually in social and economic benefits.
The research concluded that every dollar invested in volunteering services across the state returns $3.30 in economic benefit and that the 4.9 million volunteers in NSW contributed 1.5 billion hours to their communities in the past year.
ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis said, “After the challenges we have all endured over the past 18 months, the efforts and sacrifices of our state’s volunteers feel more significant than ever before.
“In NSW we have 32,000 volunteers who help to make clubs such fantastic places — without them, clubs wouldn’t be able to accomplish all the wonderful things that they do for their local communities.”