Our Board Members

Volunteer South West Board of Management 2018-2019

Volunteer South West board, staff and volunteers continue to deliver important and substantial support to clients and agencies in the Bunbury and South West region.

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.

Laurette LeCras – Vice Chairperson

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.

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.

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’.

Brenda Hamlett – Board Member

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.

Karen Colley – Board Member

Karen has been a volunteer in her community for many years, in Narrogin and then in Bunbury (from 2000 – present). These have been active roles and also included sitting on committees in various positions. She is currently the marketing coordinator and Life Member of the Bunbury Musical Comedy Group.

Karen’s working career has predominantly been in the human service sector where she managed staff as well as volunteers, which has included students doing their volunteer placements.

She sees volunteering as an important part of our community and understands the positive impact of the contribution of volunteers as well as the social and economic value they add.

Karen says she has always admired the work that Volunteer South West do and is excited to be more actively involved.

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.


Samantha Dixon – Board Member

Sam has just celebrated two years as BREC as the Front of House and Volunteer Manager. She has found it to be a challenging but very rewarding position.  Her previous career has consisted of working in the hospitality and events industry for the last 15 years both in Australia and overseas. Her main focus throughout her career has concentrated on staff sustainability and training; her ethos is based on the fact that the staff are at the coalface of the business. If they are supported, trained and happy the business will thrive. It’s a simple philosophy but one that many businesses (in many fields) forget to abide by.

Sam has implemented a Volunteer web hub so that volunteers can access their rosters, training documents, social information and news about BREC and its community. She devised the BREC Volunteer Think Tank, which is a peer nominated ‘committee’ (in a non-political sense) that sits with the FOH & Volunteer Manager and one other BREC management representative. Think Tank members are the liaison link between management and the volunteer base. They also advise on the development of training documentation and operational procedures and help to plan the social events organised for the volunteer army throughout the year.

Since settling into her role at BREC Sam has been on the lookout for additional projects to be involved in, and the prospect of working with Volunteer South West felt like the right step forward to continue in this amazing field of work.

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