Andrea Vallance received one of The Weekly Times’ Heart Volunteer Awards this year, recognising her commitment to volunteering and her local community. But the modest, mother of three, who milks 800 cows with her husband on their 286-hectare farm, says she is just a part of a community where stepping up comes naturally.
Since 2008, Andrea has volunteered with Ambulance Victoria. She has two roles, as a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member at Nullawarre and as an Ambulance Community Officer (ACO) at Timboon where she drives ambulances and supports paramedics. The eight CERT volunteers she works with include a broad cross section of the community and Andrea and the team have helped at situations ranging from childbirth to car accidents.
It took Andrea 80 hours of training to become a CERT volunteer and she feels privileged to be able to help people when they need it most. “It’s incredibly humbling helping someone when they are at their most vulnerable and worried about themselves, their child or partner,” she says.
“We are part of a great team – almost like a family – and we have been through both wonderful and tragic circumstances together, but Ambulance Victoria supports us in the field and after emotional cases,” she explains. She says volunteers are involved in everything from fighting fires to surf rescues.
A big challenge for regional communities is ensuring the next generation steps up and understands the importance of volunteering. To help secure this next generation of helpers, Andrea works one day a week at Timboon P-12 School where its Timboon Agriculture Project (TAP) connects students with local industries and communities.
Volunteers work with teachers to give students applied-learning opportunities. Students have also participated in workshops to help them understand the roles of emergency service volunteers. “The response from students, teachers and the community has been amazing,” says Andrea. You can find out more about volunteering here.
Pictured above: Ambulance Victoria volunteer Andrea Vallance, winner in The Weekly Times’ Heart Volunteer Awards, on her dairy farm in Nirranda, South West Victoria