Volunteer Recognition Evening Salutes Those Making a Difference

Date19 May 2023

The City of Rockingham proudly acknowledged the contribution of several local volunteers at its annual Volunteer Recognition Evening, held on Thursday 18 May 2023 in the City’s Reception Room at its Administration Building. 

As part of National Volunteer Week 2023, this year’s event was marked by the introduction of a new awards ceremony to help the City best recognise some of its most outstanding volunteers.

Eighteen finalists featured across six volunteer categories, with winners selected by a judging panel. 

Volunteer of the Year Mabel Laidlaw, who has dedicated 20 years to the Rockingham Sound Day VIEW Club, said she was honoured to be recognised. The Rockingham Sound Day VIEW Club supports the Smith Family’s Learning for Life Program, which financially supports disadvantaged children with their education. Since 2003 Mabel has been instrumental in driving the group’s growth.  

“I’m very honoured to get the award but it’s never about just one person. We’ve got 70 women in the club and while I got the award it’s really thanks to the efforts of everyone. It wouldn’t happen without them,” Mabel said. 

“We’ve been to graduation ceremonies and seen the work the Smith Family are doing with these students thanks to funding that we’ve provided, which is always an incentive to keep going. It creates a whole new lifestyle for the students and really opens up their future.” 

Mabel has also volunteered in other roles with the help of the City of Rockingham’s Volunteer Centre (RVC), and encouraged anyone thinking of volunteering in the community to reach out to the RVC.

Switched on Seniors, which won the award for Community Volunteer Organisation of the Year, is a group dedicated to teaching technology skills to seniors. 

Founder Sheena Edwards said Switched on Seniors was focused on creating a community of seniors who can support each other in a world where technology is changing rapidly. 

“It’s very fulfilling because we can see people’s lives transform. Previously they were feeling frustrated, alienated from society, and they were almost feeling hopeless. With Switched on Seniors, we can see immediate benefits,” Sheena said. 

Sheena said a $4,000 grant provided by the City through its Community Grants Program had been significant in helping Switched on Seniors become a much-loved support group, which now holds regular sessions at the City’s Autumn Centre and also at Shoalwater Church Hall.


Mayor Deb Hamblin congratulated the winners and thanked all volunteers for being the heart of the community. 

This year’s theme for National Volunteer Week is ‘The Change Makers’ and our Volunteer Recognition Evening was the perfect opportunity to celebrate the positive change local volunteers make.

"We thank them for sharing their passion, expertise and time in helping to make our community a fabulous place to live,” Mayor Hamblin said.  

The full list of winners included:

  • Volunteer of the Year – Mabel Laidlaw (Rockingham Sound Day VIEW Club).
  • Young Volunteer of the Year – Jacob Heath (Rockingham Flames). 
  • Senior Volunteer of the Year – Lyn Meredith (Rockingham Kwinana SES). 
  • Community Volunteer Organisation of the Year – Switched on Seniors. 
  • People Who Make a Difference – Helen Williams (Rockingham Uniting Church).
  • Act Belong Commit – Barbara Sciesinski (Rockingham Community Garden).  

For more information on volunteering contact the RVC on 9528 8670, visit Volunteering or email the City.

Main image: City of Rockingham elected members celebrate with the award winners and nominated finalists at the Volunteer Recognition Evening. Pictures: City of Rockingham. 

Image two: Mayor Deb Hamblin with Volunteer of the Year Winner Mabel Laidlaw.

Image three: Jacob Heath (Young Volunteer of the Year) with Cr Dawn Jecks.  

Image four: Cr Caroline Hume and Lyn Meredith (Senior Volunteer of the Year).

Image five: Sheena Edwards (Founder - Switched on Seniors), collected the Community Volunteer Organisation of the Year Award from Mayor Deb Hamblin on behalf of the group.

Image six: Helen Williams received the People Who Make a Difference award from Cr Rob Schmidt. 

Image seven: Cr Lorna Buchan and Barbara Sciesinski (Winner of the Act Belong Commit award).

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