“By Participating, There Develops a Sense of Ownership” – Volunteer Committee Members Speak on Why They Contribute to BRHS

Our Community Advisory Committee: Back – Ana Talko-Nicholas, Julie Small and Tony Brett. Front – Maria Beasley, Louise Kelly and Jennifer Whitworth. (Absent: Jessica Ward.) Photo: Jess Shapiro/BRHS


Here at BRHS, we rely on volunteers to do a wide range of important tasks that support the health service and the community.

Some are more visible than others. For example, anyone that has visited the hospital will probably have seen one of our orange-shirted Ambassadors, been given a ride by a transportation volunteer, or chatted with one of the volunteers that help out in various departments around the hospital.

One of the volunteer roles that gets less attention is the Community Advisory Committee.

The six local men and women that serve on the Community Advisory Committee have the important task of making sure that the perspective of the patient, visitor or community member is always factored in to the way we operate and communicate.

That means providing guidance on our website and printed materials, ensuring that the community has adequate opportunity to provide feedback and receive responses, and keeping BRHS leadership abreast of pertinent issues or concerns in the community.

It can be a thankless task. Members generously give up their own personal time in the evening to attend committee meetings, and work diligently out of hours to provide critical feedback to BRHS staff.

In addition to taking the opportunity of National Volunteer Week to thank the Community Advisory Committee for their work, we also thought it would be a good opportunity to hear from the committee members, in their own words, why they are inspired to volunteer their time to BRHS.


“As a volunteer, not only do I have the opportunity to ‘give back’ to my community, but it also offers me the possibility to stay connected and participate in the community in a meaningful way (particularly when retired). Being a member of the Community Advisory Committee at BRHS gives me the opportunity to have a say in how my health service works, and how it will also benefit the community at large in a more positive way.”

Maria Beasley


“The reason I volunteer as a member of the Consumer Advisory Committee is to be a voice for the East Gippsland community, as an advocate on behalf of the general community, those who use the services, their families and carers.”

Tony Brett


“When I retired and moved to East Gippsland six years ago, it was important to me to feel that I belonged, so I got involved with several local clubs and interest groups.

To now be a member of the BRHS Community Advisory Committee is a natural progression to continue my concern for the wellbeing and best interests of the community of which I am a part.

Through our interactions with the various local people and groups, we hear their views and needs regarding our health service. Our purpose is to integrate this information in influencing the planning, policy development and operations of BRHS.

By participating, there develops a sense of ownership, and I am proud to be able to be an advocate for my community and the BRHS team.”

Jenny Whitworth


“When my husband and I made the decision to make East Gippsland our home 10 years ago, this was a great opportunity for me to become involved in the local community.

I am very passionate about my community and health, which is why I applied to be a Board Member at BRHS as well as wanting to Chair our Consumer Advisory Committee.

It’s important that we partner with our community and include our consumers in decision-making about health service planning, policy development, setting priorities and quality issues in the delivery of services at BRHS.”

Julie Small


“I joined the Consumer Advisory Committee because I had a strong interest in helping to build on and improve health services in our area.

I felt that I had strong community ties in a variety of areas which would allow me to assist in passing on the needs and views of different groups within our community including disadvantaged and marginalised groups.

Citizen engagement is extremely important in terms of improving the delivery of our health services as it is the community who utilise these services.

The Consumer Advisory Committee allows for the members to act as advocates to bring the views and opinions of the community to the attention of the BRHS Executive group, where they may not otherwise have been aware. This is a very worthwhile committee to be involved with.”

Jessica Murray

May 20 – 26 is National Volunteers Week, and we’re taking a moment to recognise and celebrate the many volunteers that make invaluable contributions to the BRHS community.

If you’d like to know more about volunteering at BRHS, just visit www.brhs.com.au/volunteers-fundraising.