Giving volunteers a hand this National Volunteer Week

Press Release
  • St John WA (SJWA) appoints two volunteer specialists to enhance and streamline the volunteer experience;
  • SJWA Group CEO’s personalised ‘Thank you’ during National Volunteer Week, May 15- 21;
  • Event Health Services/Youth & Community Engagement Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony to be held May 18.

St John WA is celebrating National Volunteer Week, May 15-19, by enhancing and streamlining the volunteer experience across the state-wide organisation through the appointment of two specialists.

The new Volunteer Experience Business Partners (VEBPs) Allison Rayner and Elza Wallis began their journey at St John as volunteers in the regions and metropolitan Perth for many years. Allison was most recently a Volunteer Coordinator at Event Health Services and Elza a Country Ambulance Transport Officer and the chairperson at Bridgetown sub centre.

They will deliver a range of initiatives to enhance the ability to recruit, retain, and inspire St John volunteers.

Volunteers at St John undergo intensive training and support to deliver clinically proven lifesaving first aid, such as CPR, as well as applying defibrillators, drive vehicles and best practice on managing medical emergencies.

Volunteers have been at the heart of St John WA’s establishment in 1877 and continue to support the Western Australian community through health emergencies, natural disasters, medical transport, event support and first aid education.

The annual Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony for Event Health Services/Youth & Community Engagement officers will also be held on May 18 and St John is conducting a targeted regional recruitment drive which includes rewarding volunteers for referrals, called Legend to Legend.

“We have incentivised encouraging others to join up because we recognise the importance of spreading the word from those in the driving seat, who bring the passion and dedication to this service, every single day,” Mr Brown said.

“Having signed up as a volunteer myself, I have seen firsthand the comradery within St John. Aside from the pride of lending a helping hand, it also provides the opportunity to develop leadership, communication and teamwork skills, which are valuable in all areas of life.”

Among the thousands of volunteers who selflessly dedicate their lives to their communities by serving through SJWA, there are always unique stories to be found.

Here are just a few who deserve a spotlight:

Katie Nelson, Morley 


Katie joined St John straight out of high school through the Cadet Program in 2005. She was welcomed to the Morley division and treated her first patient during the Australia Day fireworks in 2016. Volunteering with St John sparked her interest in undertaking a Bachelor of Nursing, which she completed prior to the pandemic and worked in Intensive Care. Katie continues to volunteer for SJWA and has received a Commandery Commendation. 

Iain Hamilton, Rockingham

Iain initially joined St John in Canberra in 2004 and then enlisted in the Navy. After a long military career, Iain’s passion for helping others led him to join St John WA’s Rockingham division in 2021 and has taken on multiple roles as an Event Health Officer, Volunteer Development Officer, Rapid Ambulance Support Officer and country ambulance volunteer.

Shu Yin Chia, Belmont


Shu signed up to St John’s Event Health Services (EHS) in 2016 after talking to a friend who just completed training. Her favourite event as a volunteer was being part of the team which helped the Princess Margaret Children’s Hospital relocate to Perth Children’s Hospital. Shu was recently named one of the Council of Ambulance Authorities (CAA) Women in Ambulance 2023 recipients for St John WA.  

Sophie Van Wyngaarden, Wanneroo


St John’s newest EHS Divisional Team Leader and long-term volunteer, Sophie started volunteering while completing her Master of Forensic Science and a postgraduate certificate in Human Rights. Sophie said she was proud of volunteering for an organisation aligned to her interest in humanitarian work and human rights, which ultimately led to a career at St John.  

Ben Gilbert, Melville


Ben began volunteering for St John after graduating high school in 2015. Seven years later, he has helped at local community events, during bushfires, missing person searches and assisted in the COVID-19 response. In 2019 he made the leap and studied paramedicine. Ben now works full-time on road with the metropolitan ambulance service. Ben still volunteers at the Melville division and helps pass on his knowledge as a Volunteer Training Manger.

Paul Kightly, Albany and Denmark 


Paul has a strong track record for volunteering across various organisations, so when he moved to Denmark in 2005 he started volunteering at St John’s local sub centre. After 11 years of dedicated service, the community awarded him Denmark Citizen of the Year in 2016. Since moving from Denmark to Albany, he expanded his involvement to include a paid role as a casual Patient Transport Volunteer and was accepted into the Order of St John in 2021.  

Michael (Tiny) Napier, Tom Price and Paraburdoo  


Tiny, as he is fondly called, has served St John for almost 20 years as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). His knowledge and skills have helped countless Tom Price and Paraburdoo residents having attended more than 100 emergency call outs a year and training the next generation of EMTs. Tiny joined the Order of St John and was recently recognised as St John’s Volunteer of the Year in 2022.  

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