Volunteer Community Reference Group

The Volunteering Community Reference Group is established under the direction of the Hon Minister for Volunteering. The purpose of the Volunteering Community Reference Group is to provide a direct voice on volunteering issues from the sector to government.

The Volunteering Community Reference Group will provide the Hon Minister with non-binding advice and information on trends and issues impacting the sector and feedback on the implementation of the State Volunteering Strategy.



Communique #1 – August 2020

Terms of Reference

Below are members of the Volunteering Community Reference Group:


Hon Mick Murray MLA

Minister for Seniors and Ageing; Volunteering; Sport and Recreation

Mick Murray has been a Member of Parliament since 2001 and was appointed the Minister for Seniors and Ageing; Volunteering; Sport and Recreation in the McGowan Government in March 2017.

Mr Murray has represented various parts of the South West region since entering Parliament, with numerous boundary changes giving him responsibility for the shires of Collie, Capel, Dardanup, Donnybrook-Balingup, Harvey, Boyup Brook and Boddington during his time as an MP. Mr Murray also served as a Collie Shire Councillor for 12 years before entering Parliament.

Mr Murray and wife Anna have four daughters, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Mr Murray is a keen recreational diver, fisherman and motorsports fanatic.

Hon Mick Murray MLA


Craig Spencer

Craig chairs the Volunteer Community Reference Group.

Craig has had a long term commitment to community service, currently holding several board and community representative roles and as an emergency services volunteer for over 17 years in both NSW and WA.

Craig believes the economic, social and cultural value of volunteering is very significant and that volunteering is an important part of the strong social fabric of our society, particularly in Western Australia where the vastness of our state often means that vital community services are delivered by volunteers.  



Tina Williams

As the CEO of Volunteering WA, the state peak body for volunteering, Tina is committed to driving VWA’s mission in leading, advancing and celebrating volunteering in WA. Tina’s work focuses on developing and leading a strong, inclusive and dynamic volunteer sector in WA that enriches our communities and makes volunteering safe, accessible and meaningful for everyone.

Tina is the convenor of the Volunteering Community Reference Group, where she provides government with a direct voice from the sector on their shared needs, interests and priorities. She is a passionate advocate for volunteers, supporting WA’s volunteering involving organisations and promoting the benefits of volunteering to grow the sector.


Volunteering WA – Peak Representative

Meredith Blais

As Volunteering WA’s Senior Policy Advisor, Meredith works with all levels of government, the volunteering sector and the community to develop policy that supports the growth and development of volunteering.

Meredith has experience, both locally and overseas, in strategy, policy and community engagement with qualifications in commerce and corporate governance.   

Meredith is a long-term volunteer, currently working with Street Law Centre of WA, Share the Dignity and as a member of the City of Joondalup’s Strategic Community Reference Group.

Her happiest times are working with people and communities who care for each other and are committed to making this world a kinder, more inclusive and healthier place.  


Volunteer Representatives

Esme Bowen

Esme has been involved in the family surf retail business for 30 years and has a background in nursing and disability services, working as a community volunteer and road safety advocate for many years. 

Esme’s volunteering has included leadership roles with Wheelchair Sports WA, Wheelchair Sports Australia, Disability Sports Australia and the Australian Automobile Association.   She recently retired from the RAC Council after serving 15 years including as President, Honorary Life Member, RAC Councillor and Chair of the RAC Sponsorship Committee.  Esme is also Chair of the WA Ministers Carers Advisory Council and a Board member of the Paraplegic Benefit Fund and Children’s Hospital Alumni of WA. She is the President  of the PMH  Ex Trainees Association and sits on the RFDS Consumer and Carers  Advisory group .

Esme believes it is a privilege to be a community representative on the Minister’s Volunteer Community Reference Group and explore the priorities, strengths and challenges of volunteering across WA and its diverse and vibrant communities.

Esme shares the vision of a stronger, more connected and resilient Australian community through volunteering and serves on the board of Volunteering Australia


Not-for-profit Representatives

Maija Hildebrand

Maija is the Voluntary Service Development and Engagement Specialist with  Australian Red Cross in Western Australia.  Her role is to lead and manage volunteers as well as leading Red Cross’ strategy on volunteering, both in the local government and non-profit sectors.

Maija has recently completed  a Masters’s degree focusing on the volunteering experiences of CaLD people and the differences between formal and informal volunteering within migrant cultures.

Maija is passionate about advocating for diverse and inclusive volunteering practices that allow people to contribute to the community in meaningful ways.  She looks forward to introducing some of the innovative volunteer projects Red Cross is working on to the reference group and learning more about the work of others.


Dan Minchin

Dan is the CEO of Chorus, an organisation operating in the community aged and disability sector and committed to bringing a fresh approach to communiuty service.

Dan has been an active volunteer in a wide range of settings beginning with his days at university and continuing over 25 years with various roles in sporting clubs, health and art organisations and in the  education sector.  Currently he is a member of Minister Simone McGurk’s Supporting Communities Forum, the Methodist Ladies College Council, a regular participant in the Hawaiian Ride for Youth and he volunteers with his own organisation.

Dan’s volunteering and professional experience has given him a unique insight into the needs of the most vulnerable in our community and he believes the reference group can provide advice to the Minister that is both aspirational and practical, in turn leading to improved conditions for volunteering in Western Australia.


Corporate Representative

Gemma Rapson

As Woodside’s Social Investment Manager, Gemma is responsible for Woodside’s social contribution portfolio, including the Woodside Development Fund, a collaborative approach to creating early childhood development outcomes.

Gemma has held several Corporate Affairs roles at Woodside across operations and developments over the past decade. Before joining Woodside, Gemma worked in the hard rock mining and construction industries, specifically the remote Pilbara and Kimberly regions in Western Australia and the diverse community of East London for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Gemma is the Chairperson of the Corporate Volunteer Council in WA and steering committee member of the London Benchmarking Group Australia New Zealand, recognised as the leading independent verification of corporate community investment.

She holds a Bachelor of Business with a Double Major in Marketing and Indonesian from the University of Notre Dame Australia.


Research Representatives

Dr Megan Paull

Dr Megan Paull is a senior lecturer at Murdoch University where she teaches in Management, including a unit in Leading and Managing Nonprofit Organisations.

Megan has had a long affiliation with Volunteering WA, having first been involved when undertaking research on managing change in volunteer involving organisations in the 1990s.  She has been a leader and driver of the Volunteering WA Research Committee since its inception in 2001. 

Most recently Megan led a federal government funded project examining university student volunteering -  Volunteering to Learn.

Having completed her research masters and her PhD researching difficult aspects of managing volunteers, Megan prides herself on ensuring that the work undertaken in her research is communicated back to the community and to those who contributed to the research. 


Department of Communities

Sue Fielding

Sue Fielding has extensive experience in Community Services in both government and non-government portfolio’s. Sue is currently employed at the Department of Communities in the position of Director Community Development. In this role she provides management and leadership to the Community Development team in the Volunteering; Youth; Carers/Grandcarers; Changing Places; Service Design; Seniors and Aging; Age-friendly Communities Program; Elder Abuse and; Veterans Issues portfolios. Sue has tertiary qualifications in community services management, project management, training and assessment, education and social science.


Local Government Representatives

Nick Sloan

Nick Sloan is the Chief Executive Officer of the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA).

Prior to joining WALGA Nick was the Executive Director, Planning and Service Delivery at the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.  Nick has extensive experience at Executive level in State Government including roles in regional WA. During this time, Nick managed complex policy agendas at both State and Local Government level.

Nick is currently a Director on the Local Government Insurance Scheme (LGIS) and a Board member of the not for profit association, NaturePlay WA.

Volunteer Resource Representatives

Elizabeth Acason

Elizabeth is the Manager of the Swan Volunteer Resource Centre, where she coordinates a team of volunteer and paid staff to deliver support, information, referral and resources to the community and Volunteer Involving Organisations. With the Centre’s current membership of 220 groups, ranging from large not for profits and NGO’s to smaller volunteer led community groups, Elizabeth has a breadth of understanding of the successes and the challenges facing a wide cross section of the West Australian NFP sector. As a Centre that connects individuals through face to face consultation with volunteer opportunities in the community, Elizabeth is uniquely placed to understand the motivations and requirements of volunteers and how these issues should drive volunteer program development and innovation.

Elizabeth has volunteered and worked in the NFP sector in Perth for 29 years and is currently a member of the Volunteer Resource Centre Network Steering Committee.