I arrived in Cairns aged 5 years and have lived in Far North Queensland for most of my life with brief sojourns in other places.
School years were spent at Machans Beach, Good Counsel and later St. Monica’s College. Nursing beckoned and I trained at the old Cairns Base Hospital, thus began a lifelong career focus on healthcare. I deviated towards preventative, complementary and primary healthcare and have a particular interest in nutritional care in mental health and spectrum related disorders. I enjoy facilitating workshops and seminars assisting people to turn around their lives towards healthier food choices and building stronger bodies, particularly as we age and experience degeneration in our strength and flexibility.
In 1991 I was elected to Mulgrave Shire Council and spent the next 17 years representing our community. A particularly exciting time was the amalgamation of Mulgrave Shire and Cairns City Council. Transition to a super Council and the introduction of computer technology, coupled with rapid technological change and population growth was challenging and a fast-learning curve. Maintaining a balance between community wellbeing and urban development is never simple.
I was with FNQ Volunteers from its’ inception as a Board member and subsequently became President in 2010. We have experienced many ups and downs, particularly over the past few years with the abandonment of the Volunteer Management Program and its transition to a new service delivery model. In 2023 we introduced a new program, the Aged Care Volunteer Visitor Scheme with our successful application for 106 places.
Retirement? I find myself as busy as ever, volunteering is the panacea for the aging body and I find myself engaged and involved with community and friends. There is never a dull moment.
I have been in hospitality industry all my working life, managing and owning hotels and more recently caravan parks and was with the Queensland Hotels Association for over 20 years as a consultant and I was awarded life membership of the Association.
When I retired 3 years ago I very quickly became bored and that is when I started volunteering at Far North Queensland Volunteers.
I got immense pleasure out of giving back when asked to join the board of Far North Queensland Volunteers and was honoured to accept as I feel I have a lot to contribute with a combination of my business skills and my knowledge of the inner workings of the Far North Queensland Volunteers.
Program Coordinator VMA
With a varied and adventurous background in Business, Leadership and Coaching I’m excited to be a part of the FNQ Volunteers Team where I can put my vast array of skills to use. Having volunteered over the years in environmental and science projects, disaster response and reef restoration, I know the true value and reward that comes with contribution to a worthy cause.
My goal as Program Coordinator is to support my team to deliver the VMA to our community and reinvigorate volunteering in our FNQ Region.
I have a passion for improvement in organisations and systems, and helping individuals develop their potential, so we can all have a better experience and enjoy our precious time here on this planet.
When I’m not spending time with my partner or teenagers, I’m likely out on the reef tending a coral nursery or on the dance floor attempting a Salsa.
I have lived in Cairns for 37 years, working and volunteering in the local Cairns Community over that time including in the Health, Education, Multicultural and Volunteer Sectors. I am excited and privileged to be working at FNQVI with a new program as coordinator of the Aged Care Volunteer Visitor Scheme.
I enjoy supporting volunteers and embracing the diversity, skills and lived experiences that they bring through their volunteering. I look forward to contributing my unique knowledge and skills to FNQVI and working with a team that will assist to improve the lives of elderly people in the Cairns Community.
Volunteering has always been a part of my life it connects me to community, expands my world and gives me a sense of purpose. One of my greatest joys in life is hanging out with my grandkids, having my hands in the earth, being in nature and singing and dancing through life.
Since its inception in 1999, FNQ Volunteers Inc. has been a dedicated force in meeting the evolving needs of our community. As the primary agency for volunteering in the Far North Region, we have played a pivotal role in fostering community development and social inclusivity throughout the Far North Queensland area. This has been achieved through the implementation of community participation initiatives and comprehensive volunteer involvement services.
Our offerings encompass a spectrum of services including volunteer training, education, advocacy, community development, and volunteer referrals, benefiting a diverse array of community and non-profit member organizations across the region.
In addition to our direct services, FNQ Volunteers takes a leadership role in elevating the prominence of volunteering within the not-for-profit sector. We aim to cultivate an inclusive and thriving community.
FNQ Volunteers Inc. operates as an Incorporated Association under the Associations Incorporation Act 1981. Our incorporation was established on May 23, 2002, bearing the Incorporation Number IA31139. The Constitution was adopted during a board meeting on April 9, 2002, with subsequent amendments made on December 3, 2004.
A dedicated Volunteer Board of Management guides FNQ Volunteers Inc., convening monthly to set the strategic course for the organisation.
Our Strategic Plan outlines the expectations and commitments of the FNQ Volunteers Inc. Board and Staff. It serves as a guiding framework, articulating key objectives and goals, all within the context of community development and rooted in a set of guiding principles.
The operational team of FNQ Volunteers Inc. is led by our VMA Program Coordinator and ACVVS Coordinator, supported by volunteers who hold key positions across all facets of our organisation.
In March 1999, CEO Jennifer Hunter embarked on creating a volunteer referral service. She recalls her first day, seated on the floor with a briefcase and mobile phone. Within a month, 12 volunteers were referred to four agencies. This success sparked our growth, envisioning outreach centers in Tablelands, Mossman/Port Douglas, and even Innisfail.
Today, we proudly list over 200 voluntary positions throughout the year, partnering with more than 100 registered agencies. Our opportunities span a wide range, from administrative roles like data entry and receptionists to cooking for day respite centres, shopping for the elderly and people with disabilities, reading to children, fundraising, and beyond. We’re involved in various activities, from planting trees to organising exhibitions, greeting tourists, assisting newcomers to Australia, and much more.
FNQ Volunteers Inc. spans from Mission Beach/Tully to Mossman and Ravenshoe, collaborating for services in Cape York. Our community thrives on diversity, welcoming international students seeking to immerse themselves in Australian community life.
Our members represent a rich tapestry of community organisations. From health and childcare to arts, environment, youth, and animal welfare, every prospective volunteer is carefully matched to skills and interests.
Beyond community service, volunteering yields personal and professional growth. On average, 35% of volunteers transition to paid employment, making it an invaluable path for skill-building and networking.
FNQ Volunteers Inc. extends heartfelt thanks to all levels of government, the corporate sector, and local businesses for their support. Together, we’ve elevated the profile of volunteering across Far North Queensland, making a lasting impact on our community.