Our Board Members

Volunteer South West Board of Management 2018-2019

Volunteer South West board of management, staff and volunteers continue to deliver important and substantial support to individuals and volunteer involving organisations in the Bunbury Geographe Region.

VSW Board of Management 2020-2021

Nicola Smith – Chairperson

Nicky currently works for WALGA’s RoadWise in the area of injury prevention and reduction of road trauma in the South West. She has a Bachelor of Social Science (Human Services) from Edith Cowan University and has worked in the community services sector in the region for coming up to 30 years. She has worked with young people and older adults as well as in the mental health sector and many of her roles have included working with volunteers.

Nicky has coordinated an aged care service, lectured in community services at TAFE and been the Manager at Headspace Bunbury. She has volunteered on a number of Boards including most recently as Chairperson for SW Emergency Care for Children and was involved with the Committee that set up the South West RYDE program that matches volunteer driver mentors with young novice drivers to assist with gaining supervised driving hours.

She is a member of Amnesty International Australia, campaigning for human rights and recently began teaching Dru Yoga in her local community of Dalyellup.

Brenda Hamlett – Vice Chairperson

Brenda is now retired from a career as a secondary teacher of mathematics and science and a primary teacher educator. As a mature age student she completed a Doctor of Mathematics Education research degree.

This focused on the mathematical literacy of pre-service primary teachers with a view to ensuring they could answer the questions they were asking children to do in class.

As a new graduate in the 1970s she spent two years working with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in Sierra Leone as a secondary teacher – the experience of a lifetime!

Brenda has been involved in Girl Guides since joining as a Brownie at the age of seven and over that time has held positions at local, state, national and international level. As well as working in Guide Units in the UK, Sierra Leone and Australia with girls aged from six to eighteen, she has been a District Manager, member of the Asia Pacific Training Pool, Australian Training Adviser and State Commissioner for Girl Guides WA. She is currently Region Manager for Southwood which includes Waroona, Bunbury, Capel, Busselton and Boyup Brook.

Paula Hempstead – Treasurer

Paula has been working in Local Government for 11 years as a Finance Officer.  She has held her current role for 7 years and is studying at Edith Cowan University towards a degree in Social Work.

Paula has held many volunteer positions, in Collie as a Board member for Collie Agricultural Society, School P&F, canteens, and in Bunbury now on the Board for the Intown Centre.  She has also volunteered for City of Bunbury projects that allow the whole community to come together.

She looks forward to this new role as Volunteer South West Treasurer.


  Lyn Frings – Secretary

Lyn says that volunteering is something she’s been involved with since the age of 11, when as a St John’s Nursing Cadet, she would attend events to give first aid to anyone who needed it.

Lyn brings with her a wealth of experience

of secretarial duties, including writing up a constitution. She currently volunteers at the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre and really enjoys it.

Lyn says ‘I find helping out in the community to be very beneficial for all concerned, and it is a wonderful way of staying connected in this increasingly dis-connected world of non-contact times.’

Mel Baruffi – Board Member

Mel says that volunteering has always been a part of her upbringing and life.  Most recently she was a volunteer Board Member and volunteer co-ordinator with the Bunbury Soup Van and currently volunteers with Share the Dignity.  She has been involved in many not for profit organisations including Advocacy South West, Milligan House, Red

Cross both as a soup van volunteer for 13 years and as an Emergency Response volunteer and South West Family Support before it became Enable to mention a few.

Mel volunteers because she believes that it not only improves our community and the lives of those living in our community , but she also personally gains a great deal in personal growth, well being and the ability to keep her in touch with people around her who she may never have known otherwise and  now considers friends.  Mel says ‘Volunteering is like chicken soup for the soul’.

Laurette LeCras – Board Member

Laurette LeCras is the Corporate Outreach Program Manager for Bethanie Aged Care.  Based in Bunbury, she has the privilege of recruiting and supporting the 600+  volunteers that commit their time and talents across both residential & community care in the metropolitan, regional & rural areas of Western Australia.

“We consider volunteers to be highly regarded and add so much to many lives.  It is wonderful to see a range of ages from teenagers to young 80+  One of the most important gifts a volunteer  brings is to show our seniors that the community cares.  So valued are volunteers in the wider aged care setting, that each year the Bethanie Medallion is held giving recognition to volunteers in the categories of individual, organisation & youth”, Laurette said.

Laurette is passionate about volunteering and volunteers herself with a number of fund raising groups, a Board member & the community portfolio holder at her local church and as a proud volunteer for St John of Hospital Cancer Accommodation Unit.

Jo Gibellini – Board Member

Jo currently works as the Regional Officer – South West at the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. Prior to that she has worked in local government, health and community organisations as well as lectured in Certificate III and IV in Community Services, and all these diverse experiences has given her exposure to a variety of community organisations, stakeholder demographics and especially volunteers.

Jo brings with her 35 years of experience of being a volunteer within various sporting organisations as well as managing up to 40 volunteers.

During this time she developed a sound knowledge and understanding of volunteering and believes it’s a ‘two-way street’ which benefits the organisation as well as the volunteer.


 Cassie Fry – Board Member

Cassie has been volunteering for 18 years within her local community of Burekup in numerous roles and is extremely passionate about community and keeping people interested and actively involved in community participation, especially children and youth.

Cassie joins the VSW Board to assist in the promotion of volunteering and the importance of volunteers. She wants to see more interaction with local schools, encouraging the importance and benefits of volunteering and active involvement of young people.

Cassie comes from an extensive background working in community services with the elderly, people with disabilities and the health sector.

VSW holds an Annual General Meeting late in the year where new Board positions become available. If you are interested please contact the Coordinator, Shamara Williams on 9791 3214