2020 Award Winners

2020 changed the way we volunteered, worked, studied and lived. We adjusted to a new way of life, but what didn't change was the incredible kindness and ongoing support of our amazing volunteers.

The annual University Volunteer Awards recognise the exceptional contributions and achievements of one student volunteer, one non-student volunteer and two volunteer groups. Congratulations to all those nominated during a very challenging year.

Please enjoy these short videos showcasing the award winners in action.

Volunteer of the Year

Peter Bird has been volunteering with the University's Waite Conservation Reserve since 2001. As a trained ecologist, Peter has made a significant impact to the preservation and restoration of the reserve that is enjoyed by the community of hikers, runners and visitors from far and wide every year. Peter dedicates many hours every week to his role as President of the Friends of the Waite Conservation Reserve and running the fortnightly walking bees. He is an inspiration and works with grace, humility, kindness and care for his fellow beings – humans, plants and animals.

Student Volunteer of the Year

Amelia Rungkat's has made a significant contribution to the Arts Peer Mentor Program. She is a natural leader, who has shared ideas for the development of the program and invested an average of two-five hours per week while also studying. She has strived to add value to the program, improve the team identity and inspire her fellow mentors to follow her lead. The Arts Peer Mentors is a student-lead volunteer program that aims to support first year Arts students as they transition to university. Volunteers regularly meet with their assigned student throughout the academic year, one-on-one, in small groups or at events. Amelia had a significant impact on her mentees, who said they felt very well supported and able to settle into university life during a very challenging year.

Community Volunteer Group of the Year

The University Library volunteers experienced major change in 2020. The program was restructured and recommenced in February with a new Volunteer Coordinator, only to be suspended for five months because of COVID-19. Staff suddenly having to work from home during the pandemic was made significantly easier because of the work already completed by the volunteers. Their research, documentation, digitisation and organisation of information proved valuable, as the demand for online access and reference enquires increased. The volunteer's ongoing commitment to the program enabled staff, students, researches and the wider community to access information easily in a remote setting. The disruption to the program was a perfect opportunity for volunteers to find redirection and another purpose with their time; with some moving to working virtually from home. Around 93% of the volunteers returned to campus in August with an enthusiasm and keener than ever to finish their projects.

Student Volunteer Group of the Year (joint winners)

The International Peer Mentors (IPM) are dedicated volunteers who transform the international student experience by helping new students settle into life in Adelaide and make connections at the University. During the pandemic the IPMs created a safe online space for international students (with some still off-shore) to come each week to learn from guest speakers, participate in breakout room discussions, and have fun through the creative games facilitated by the IPMs. As a result, the international student cohort have been able to maintain continuity of community and a social space to touch base during these isolating times.

The Peer Assisted Study Session (PASS) Leaders provide high level service and commitment to the academic success and cohort connection of thousands of students each semester, performing their volunteer roles with diligence and passion. PASS Leaders would normally hold face-to-face study sessions for students in over 80 courses, however COVID restrictions meant pivoting to an online format in 2020. In one week, the group retrained in remote delivery and reworked session plans for online delivery. Across the year they contributed more than 3600 hours of volunteer service. 

2020 Volunteer Award nominees

  • Associate Professor Paul Grbin, Wine Alumni Network Steering Group

    Paul is a founding member of the Wine Alumni Network and convenor of its Steering Group since it was launched in 2012. He saw the need to celebrate the history of wine at the University of Adelaide, bringing together alumni from Roseworthy Agricultural College and the University of Adelaide in the disciplines of viticulture, oenology, wine business and wine marketing and took steps to create the Wine Alumni Network.

    Over the past ten years, Paul has been a strong advocate for reconnecting and engaging with wine alumni through the network program. As convenor of the Steering Group, they have found many lost wine alumni and increased engagement with wine alumni through a number of programs and events.

  • Steven Phung, English Language Centre Intercultural Program

    Steven commenced volunteering with the English Language Centre's (ELC) Intercultural Program in 2015 and in that time has contributed more than 155 hours of volunteering. He has volunteered for all of the different components of the program including Coffee & Chat, Cross-cultural Conversations and Social Club events, demonstrating his diversity and flexibility. 

    With only a few volunteers when Steven first joined, he added diversity and youthfulness to the program. His consistency and generosity with his time has contributed to the program’s growth and popularity, for both volunteers and students. He has had to manage large groups of students by himself at times when facilitating events, navigating reduced resources with last-minute cancellations by other volunteers. He thrived in this challenging environment, and proved his capability of stepping up and going above and beyond his role.

  • Hilary Stephens, Don Dunstan Foundation

    Hilary is a long term-volunteer with the Don Dunstan Foundation (DDF). In 2020 Hilary single-handedly delivered more than 12,000 data records to a new database system. As part of her work on the Technology Project, she researched and reviewed the best options for a new database, patiently explaining the features and benefits to the team so they were able to provide recommendations to the board for the best way forward. Hilary learnt the specifications for the program and software, enabling her to then train the team on how to use the new technology. During the COVID-19 period when staff were working from home, Hilary continued this training via Zoom, and collaborated with the management team to deliver the project through to completion. Because of Hilary's work on delivering this new technology project, DDF now has a fully automated online donation system, a new digital communications platform, a donor management portal and easy data analytics and reporting. 

2020 Student Volunteer Award nominees

  • Alison (Ali) Roennfeldt, International Peer Mentor (IPM)

    In 2018, Ali was interviewed for the International Peer Mentor volunteer role. She thought she was applying for the Sciences Peer Mentor program, however, at the interview, realised her mistake! After listening to the other applicants in the group interview, and hearing about the impact of the IPMs on their lives during orientation and weekly events, she immediately knew she wanted to be part of the team.

    She was promoted to Senior IPM at the end of 2019, and at that time, no one realised what 2020 held. Ali has been part of an exceptional senior leadership team in the IPM program, demonstrating resilience, creativity, professionalism, organisational skills, and equanimity in the face of the COVID-19 challenges to our student engagement. She has kept her IPM pod motivated and on track across their volunteering during a challenging year, and has been a joy to work alongside at orientation and CommuniTeas.

  • Azriel Poskey-Miles, Women in STEM Careers (WiSC)

    Azriel has been an ambassador for the WiSC program since January 2020. While completing her final year at University, she not only volunteered her time for the WiSC program but also took on the role of President of the Chemical Engineering society. Azriel has assisted with countless speaking opportunities, event support and even direct mentoring. She has had an enormous impact on the program and the Chemical Engineering society.

  • Luisa Cappella, English Language Centre Intercultural Program

    Luisa started volunteering in 2018 with the English Language Centre's (ELC) Intercultural Program. She manages to find a common ground with all the ELC students and is able to adjust her English speaking accordingly to the student’s ability. She enjoys meeting people who have grown up in a completely different country, speak different languages and who have had different experiences. 

    Luisa is committed to assisting with the program in all the volunteering opportunities offered by the ELC. She has been very consistent in volunteering for Coffee & Chat and Cross-cultural Conversations, now O Chat and Cross-Cultural Conversations (online) delivered via Zoom. She has often extended her relationships and connections to these students beyond the ELC Intercultural Program, by organising her own activities and increasing the students’ opportunity to be part of the University and the wider community. She makes the most of the opportunities created by the ELC Intercultural Program to meet new international students and experience the different cultures from around the world. 

  • Ellen Watson, Women in STEM Careers (WiSC)

    Ellen has been an ambassador of the WiSC program since 2018. She has been a wonderful ambassador who has helped support events, workshops, outreach activities and industry workshops and has excelled in every role offered. Always willing to say yes to opportunities and works with incredible initiative that has contributed to the success of the program.

2020 Volunteer Group Award nominees

  • Adelaide Business School MBA Alumni Network

    The Adelaide Business School MBA Alumni network, was formed in 1997 and has always been an active and engaged network. As much as 95% of the network’s engagement activities were face-to-face prior to 2020, consisting mainly of networking and professional development activities.

    The executive committee network saw the need to quickly pivot when COVID-19 put a stop to face-to-face engagement activities, swiftly changing their engagement model for 2020. The committee immediately emailed all its members, recognising 2020 would be an extremely tough year and encouraging them to come together and support one another.

    The committee then developed a series of engaging webinars featuring current Business School lectures and alumni on topics including Bitcoin and Crypto Currency, How do Machines Learn, Knowledge Management in an age of disruption, Innovating in Design Thinking and Small Steps to BIG changes. The average registration for each session was in excess of 90 individuals.

    A massive benefit of online engagement activities is they are not a geographically restricted event. The webinar series became globally activities, with the network receiving registrations from countries including Singapore, Hong Kong, China, South Africa, Netherlands, UK, USA, Mongolia, Maldives and the UAE.

  • John Bray Law Alumni Network

    In 2019 the John Bray Law Alumni Network, with a volunteer committee of 14, coordinated four Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions at the law courts for law alumni, engaging with 307 University graduates. They also coordinated three Alumni In Conversation presentations with high profile speakers attracting 919 law (and other) alumni. The impact of the Network's activities mean they are able to fund both a law scholarship ($5,000) and a prize ($500). The Network also heightened awareness of their activities and fostered engagement between alumni and the University. 

    The committee donates their time to monthly meetings to arrange activities. They have also sought the voluntary assistance of their colleagues; fellow lawyers, QCs, SCs and judges to act as speakers for the CPD events, making sure to have highest quality practitioners delivering these educational offerings.