Metro Sydney volunteer news


Northern Beaches Palliative Care Launch, hosted by Northern Suburbs Cancer Action Network

Cancer Council NSW staff Jess Green and Carolyn Grenville, NSCAN Chair, Liz Hing and MC Phil Gough.

Cancer Council NSW staff Jess Green and Carolyn Grenville, NSCAN Chair, Liz Hing and MC Phil Gough.

On Tuesday 16 May, Cancer Council NSW had the opportunity with local advocacy network, Northern Suburbs Cancer Action Network, and Chair Liz Hing, to host a Palliative Care Campaign Launch at Dee Why RSL.

The night was an absolute success. We had approximately 148 people attend, including the NSW Minister for Health and Member for Wakehurst, Brad Hazzard, and Member for Manly, James Griffin. For those volunteers who have participated in our Advocacy training, it was a great example of snow flaking!

Audience at Palliative Care Launch

Importantly the night could not have been such a success without the commitment, determination and passion of our local volunteers and advocates.

A huge “Thank you” to all those involved – thank you to those who spoke, managed RSVPs, printed name tags, collected pledges, took photos, provided gifts and donations, those who kept time, and wrote media articles! Thank you to those that MC’d, mingled, collected pledges, who brought friends, who put all the gift bags together. THANK YOU.

Importantly, thank you to Liz Hing, who has Chaired Northern Suburbs Cancer Action Network for over five years, and brings so much energy, passion and inspiration to all of our meetings and activities.

It was an incredibly moving event, and we will continue to campaign for a positive outcome for Palliative Care.


Meet the Team | Rashmi Nara and Alex Koukoumas

Alex and Rashmi - Meet the Team

This month we meet Metro Sydney team members Rashmi Naran and Alex Koukoumas.  Alex and Rashmi work together in Southern Sydney on the management and implementation of community based programs and events.


Name: Rashmi Naran

Role at CCNSW: Community Relations Coordinator

How long you have worked at CCNSW: 19 months

Favourite part of your job: My volunteers – they are such an incredible bunch of people, and I’m so humbled by their efforts and how much they give back.

How you work with volunteers: I work with volunteers (organising committee and interns) on a daily basis in my role to put together both the Sutherland Shire and Sydney Relay For Life. I really enjoy working with them to engage with each of the relevant communities and empower them to stage a successful event.

What are three things still left on your bucket list?

  • Trek to Everest Base Camp
  • Go on a volunteering holiday
  • Run an ultramarathon


Name: Alex Koukoumas

Role at CCNSW: Community Programs Coordinator

How long you have worked at CCNSW: 10 months

Favourite part of your job: Being able to represent Cancer Council in my local community. I also love working with the people in my team and larger organisation.

How do you work with volunteers: I work with volunteers on a daily basis in various roles: Cancer Council Information Service, Member of Parliament Liaisons, interns and Relay committee members. I enjoy working alongside them to make sure they know they can always approach me about anything that is concerning them and I am there to listen and help.

What are three things still left on your bucket list?

  • Travel to Greek Islands and Maldives
  • Get married
  • Have kids!


Fundraising Focus |Sutherland Shire Relay raises more than $300K

On 6 and 7 May, more than 1700 walkers, runners and supporters arrived at Don Lucas Reserve at Wanda Beach to support Cancer Council NSW and take part in the 2017 Sutherland Shire Relay for Life.


Highlights of the weekend included the opening ceremony being kicked off with our ribbon cutter being driven in a vintage car around the track, our survivors and carers being treated to a ‘High Tea By the Sea’ themed morning tea, and a variety of activities for children and adults including pony rides, a petting zoo, bungy jumping and mini jeep rides.

There were also food trucks, an ‘I Care For Palliative Care’ campaign launch, an INXS tribute band, and a heart-warming story shared at Candlelight Ceremony where there wasn’t a single dry-eyed face in the event.

Massive thanks to the incredible committee of more than 30 volunteers who have dedicated their hearts and souls into putting this Relay together, especially with relocating the Relay to a new venue after 15 years. Also a special thanks to our major sponsors Sutherland Shire Council and Tradies for helping us put on this event.


Volunteer Opportunity | Hornsby Relay For Life Event Committee Leadership Team

The Metro Sydney Team is seeking dynamic and enthusiastic volunteers to join the Hornsby Relay For Life Event Committee as part of the Leadership Team.

As a Relay For Life team leader and committee member you will be an advocate for this unique event. You will work with the Organising Committee to promote, organise and run the event on the day, which will be held on 4-5 November, 2017.

This role will run from July – November, with the opportunity to be ongoing or transition to other roles within the committee.

If you would like to learn more about this opportunity, please click here or contact Becky Dadswell on (02) 9334 1459 or


Volunteer Profile |Christine Saraff

Christine Saraff at Sutherland Shire Relay

Volunteer Role: Event Administration and Support Volunteer

What is your background? I am currently in my last semester at University of Technology Sydney, majoring in event management, and have been involved in various events across Sydney. My growing involvement in the events sector has been a natural progression for me as I hope to pursue a career as an event manager for both public and non-profit events.

What does your Volunteer Work Involve? My role involves providing administration support for both the Sydney and Sutherland Relay For Life. Tasks range from contacting participants, assisting with stocktake of event merchandise, preparing/updating various event documents, and assisting in the information tent on event days.

Why did you choose to volunteer at Cancer Council NSW? I chose to volunteer at Cancer Council NSW mainly because of a personal connection that I have with cancer, as my brother was diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and has since passed away. By getting involved with Cancer Council NSW, I feel that I have been able to give back in some way and indirectly support those on their own cancer journey.  

What do you enjoy most about volunteering? I’ve enjoyed the inclusive and supportive team environment that is fostered and encouraged in the office, as well as having the opportunity to acquire practical skills and knowledge in event administration.

What work have you done at Cancer Council NSW that you are most proud of or excited about? Being at the event and supporting the team on the day has been the most exciting aspect, as it’s opened my eyes as to how supportive and generous both local communities are in supporting the cause. It also indicates that those in the wider community are equally generous. It’s heartwarming to know that when the going gets tough, we can all get together and support a worthy cause.


Previous regional news from 2017

Volunteers make the Metro Sydney Team happy

Volunteers Make the Metro Sydney Team Happy

Today( Monday 8 May) marks the beginning of National Volunteer week, which runs from 8-14 May.

The theme for Volunteer Week is Give Happy, Live Happy.

We know that volunteers make the Metro Sydney Team live happy.

We receive support from volunteers in every aspect of our work from office administration to supporting people impacted by cancer at our information and support services.

Without the support of volunteers we would not be able to deliver our mission, to lead, empower and mobilise the community to beat cancer.

We look forward to seeing many of you at the celebrations taking place at Woolloomooloo office through-out the week.  – Lauren McAlister | Regional Manager, Metro Sydney.

Please watch a short video message here about why volunteers makes us happy.


Volunteer Role Spotlight

Meet the team – Jeny and Angie

Jeny & Angie

Name: Angie Burnett

Role at Cancer Council NSW (CCNSW): Community Engagement Manager – Fundraising

How long you have worked at CCNSW: Seven years and eight months

Favourite part of your job: Working for such an important cause, I love all of our events and programs and believe very strongly in them, plus I love the people and culture of Cancer Council NSW and always have.

How you work with volunteers: Working across all of our fundraising campaigns and with the Community Relations Coordinators and Regional Administrator, I am lucky enough to meet and work with all of our wonderful committees, our amazing office interns and volunteers, and our dynamic event volunteer workforce.

What is it you like to do to relax?  Head to the beach or park with Remy, my 20 month old son, go for a run, bake, find spots with great coffee, go out for breakfast, when Remy is in bed watch an awesome TV series non stop..Some of these possibly might change or slightly alter with the arrival of our new baby due late next month.


Name: Jeny Gautam 

Role at CCNSW: Community Programs Coordinator

How long you have worked at CCNSW: One year and ten months

Favourite part of your job: Working with a highly motivated team who work really hard every day to make a difference. Free fruits on Wednesdays doesn’t hurt either :)

How you work with volunteers: I support a group of passionate advocates who form the Sydney Cancer Advocacy Network (SCAN). You may have seen them at 7 Bridges Walk or Sydney Relay, and will see them at the upcoming Sutherland Relay. SCAN calls on those in positions of power to take actions that will reduce cancer rates and improve outcomes for people living with cancer. I feel incredibly proud to be supporting SCAN.

A random fact about you:

My favourite TV show when growing up was Arthur. I loved getting a dose of Arthur after school before getting on with (or avoid doing) homework. Still got the theme song in my head “….and I say HEY! (HEY!) What a wonderful kind of day…”


Volunteer Role Spotlight – Committee Chair

Luke Barbuto

Luke with his friend Dougal Bear at Sutherland Shire Relay.

Last month we were proud to congratulate Luke Barbuto – Co-Chairman of Sutherland Shire Relay for winning the Volunteer category of the Global Spirit of Relay Awards.

Luke was up against amazing volunteers from around the globe, but his passion for Relay saw him take out top position. Luke has been volunteering for the past 9 years and was proud to  see so many volunteers, participants and members of the Sutherland Shire community at the Relay this weekend (6-7 May).

Luke is always challenging others to think outside the box and create new and innovative ways to make Sutherland Shire Relay a unique and incredible experience for those attending.

His passion for Relay is not only limited to his event. Luke believes this is an amazing platform for those who have been touched by cancer which gives these incredible individuals a place to belong and meet other like-minded people within their own community.

Luke wants to see Relay grow globally and succeed on an international scale ensuring this community-gathering event is always available for those who need it. He truly believes Relay is an avenue for creating change in the cancer space. 

Luke is a fantastic asset not only to Sutherland Shire Relay, but to Cancer Council NSW as a whole. Congratulations, Luke Barbuto.


Mission Moment

‘I Care For Palliative Care’ launch at Sutherland Shire Relay For Life.

kristin g2

The I Care For Palliative Care campaign launched on Saturday 6 May at Sutherland Shire Relay For Life. The campaign encourages the local community to sign a pledge to help end the palliative care shortage in NSW. 281 pledges were collected from participants and visitors to the event.

Woronora Heights resident, Kristin Garsheen, spoke at Sutherland Shire Relay For Life’s palliative care launch about her mother’s cancer experience and the need for more palliative care doctors and nurses.

She said that her mother, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2009 and passed away in 2012, was unable to access palliative care.

“My family was never offered palliative care support for my mum other than in the very final week of her life. That final week was comforting for mum – the palliative care workers were so experienced and caring which made my mum’s final days so much better. Leading up to that point, it would have been wonderful for our family to have support and guidance from palliative care.

“I feel very passionate that the government needs to take action on the palliative care shortage in NSW because I know my family is not the only one that has had this experience. Too many NSW residents don’t have access to palliative care,” said Mrs Garsheen.


Fundraising Focus

Stars of the Beaches

A journalist, politician’s wife, pro-surfer and Dee Why RSL CEO all came together at Stars of the Beaches, a dance gala on Saturday 6 May at Dee Why RSL Club to raise funds for Cancer Council NSW.

The night saw 11 local personalities joined with professional dance instructors perform a dance routine in front of an audience of over 300 family and friends.  The stars had eight weeks to learn their routines whilst fundraising to help people in the Northern Beaches affected by cancer.

The line-up this year included Grant Easterby (CEO of Dee Why RSL), Sarah Swain (Journalist at Manly Daily), Meredith Cummins (Director of Medical Oncology and Nursing at the Northern Sydney Cancer Institute), Brett Luhrmann (CEO at Luhrmann Group of Companies), Kylie Llewellyn (Girl Scout Leader), Emma Trevallion, (Real Estate Agent), Beau Mitchell (Former Professional Surfer), Karlisle Morocco (Store Manager at Tommy Bahama), Kelly Nicholls (Advocacy Manager at Medecins Sans Frontieres), Samantha Joy (Director at Northern Beaches Cleaning Pty Ltd) and Kerryn Baird (former premier’s wife).

Stars of the Northern Beaches

All stars impressed the judging panel, and the atmosphere on the night was electric. In true Luhrmann style, Brett Luhrmann, brother of Baz Luhrmann, took home the title for Judges’ Choice with partner Jade Hatcher, with a breathtaking performance including three costume changes and getting the crowd doing a conga line!

Brett also took home the title for Highest Fundraiser, while Kerryn Baird took People’s Choice.

Grant Easterby, CEO of the Dee Why RSL, who were the venue partner for the event, amazed the crowd with an over the top Musical Theatre number, and then Kylie Llewellyn and pro-surfer Beau Mitchell brought the crowd to tears with their moving performances dedicated to friends lost to cancer.

Overall it was an amazing night and a rollercoaster of emotions from laughter to tears.

The inaugural event raised more than $79,000! Funds raised by Stars of the Beaches will contribute to local Cancer Council NSW initiatives such as Sun Sound programs at Manly Boy Charlton Pool and local Surf Living Saving Clubs, and the Improve Your Long Game program, that both aim to improve sun protection behaviours.


Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea launches at Luna Park


On 6 April, Cancer Council NSW officially launched the 24th annual Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea campaign at Luna Park.

With more than 60 Metro Sydney Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea hosts in attendance, the event was a great opportunity to celebrate hard-working hosts, get excited for this year’s morning teas and reminisce on memories of previous events.

“The ABMT launch was fantastic! All of our hosts were further motivated and energised to make their morning teas a success this year. We also welcomed some newer hosts who have been passionate about making a difference, with this launch further fuelling that passion,” said Costeen Sekhas, Community Relations Coordinator at Cancer Council NSW’s Metro Sydney office.

Among those in attendance with the Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea hosts included launch MC Jim Wilson from Seven News and 2017 Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea Ambassadors Will Stewart and Steve Flood, winners of the 2015 My Kitchen Rules.


Catch up with previous months’ news by going here and then clicking on your blue ‘region’ link.