A group of local animal-loving volunteers and a woman who dedicated 30 years to Neighbourhood Watch have been acknowledged at the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Volunteer Champions Awards.

Member for Northern Victoria, Mark Gepp, thanked the local award recipients for representing Mildura and dedicating their time to significant causes in the community.

“We have a wonderful community that is the perfect place to volunteer, and I encourage more people to get involved,” Mr Gepp said.

At Sunday’s awards ceremony at Victorian Government House, Mildura resident Helen Worcester received the Leadership Award for being instrumental in bringing Neighbourhood Watch to the North West.

Mrs Worcester was acknowledged for building police and community support in the group, and for introducing the Neighbourhood Watch educational curriculum to schools that services more than 600 children in the local area.

Also representing Mildura was a team of five volunteers at the Sunraysia Animal Rehousing Group, which received the Team Award for their extraordinary efforts to rehouse dogs and cats in the region.

The team has helped to increase the re-housing of dogs by more than 86 per cent and cats by 54 per cent, while volunteering a total of at least 64 hours per week and raising awareness in the community.

Team members include Carleen (Charlie) Bayldon, Trudie Chant, Carolyn Dufty, Nicole Thiel, and Ines Wendt.

Mr Gepp said, “Mildura residents take pride in supporting our local community, and I congratulate our six award recipients for their incredible volunteer work.”

They join 60 volunteers across the state who were formally recognised at the ceremony, spanning support for a range of different communities and causes as well as a range of services and activities.

“The benefits of volunteering are endless and can help people make new friendships and learn new skills,” Mr Gepp said.

The Premier’s Volunteer of the Year Award went to equality advocate Riley Briese, for helping change the landscape of care and support for young transgender people in regional Victoria.

Pictured: Left to right: Carolyn Dufty, Gabrielle Williams, Mr Howard, Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews, Governor Linda Dessau, Trudie Chant, Penny Fowler, Nicole Thiel, and State Minister Jenny Mikakos.