Victorian Volunteers Awarded For Incredible Work

A Volunteer who has dedicated more than 50 years to the rights of people involved in the criminal justice system has been given the Premier’s Volunteer of the Year, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Award.

Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan today presented it to Carmel Benjamin AM at the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Volunteer Champions Awards at Government House.

Ms Benjamin received the honour for her work as a victim counsellor, official prison visitor, board member, ambassador and consultant on ministerial advisory committees. She has also established vital initiatives like the ‘woman 2 woman’ program that helps women transition from prison into the community.

In 1980, Ms Benjamin founded the Court Network, a volunteer-based organisation devoted to the welfare of court users at Prahran Courthouse. With her ongoing involvement, the organisation now helps more than 190,000 court users a year, across 36 courts throughout Victoria and Queensland.

Ms Benjamin received a handcrafted trophy and a $10,000 donation to a not for profit organisation of her choice.

Now in its seventh year, the Victorian Premier’s Volunteer Champions Awards were created to recognise and celebrate the value and impact of volunteering across Victoria in building our communities, services and connections.

More than 1.5 million Victorians volunteer their time, skills and experience – making a huge contribution to our local communities. Their contribution to the Victorian economy is estimated to be worth up to $42 billion by 2021, if volunteering rates continue.

This year, 247 nominations were received across the categories of Service, Leadership, Impact and Teamwork and 57 volunteers were recognised for their invaluable contributions.

To find out more visit: volunteer.vic.gov.au/awards.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan

“Congratulations to Carmel and to all of today’s award recipients. You are the backbone of our local communities, providing comfort and relief to people who need it most.”

“These awards recognise the outstanding and selfless work that all our volunteers do in the community every day.”

Quote attributable to the Parliamentary Secretary for Carers and Volunteers Anthony Carbines

“Every year we see outstanding volunteers who are putting their heart and soul into working together to support Victorians. Thanks to Carmel and all our outstanding volunteers who help make Victoria a better place to live.”