National Volunteer Week 2023: The Red Energy Arena Change Makers

This week is National Volunteer Week! For every day of the week, we’ll shine the spotlight on one of our many dedicated volunteers, who we wish to recognise and thank for all their efforts and hard work here at Red Energy Arena, and within our sporting community.

The week-long event recognises the vital support that the millions of volunteers in our country provide to their communities and encourages people to consider volunteering.

The theme for National Volunteer Week this year is ‘The Change Makers’ – a very fitting theme for our team of volunteers here at Red Energy Arena, who shape the way our events, venue and sporting teams run.

National Volunteer Week 2023 is a celebration of our power to drive change and ensure volunteering is inclusive of all members of our community.

We have many volunteers who help keep our teams running smoothly, all of whom are dedicated to making sure children can play their favourite sports, whilst making sure Bendigo remains a connected and supportive sporting community.

We wish to thank all our volunteers – we recognise how much you contribute to Red Energy Arena and our mission, and we couldn’t do it without you!

Thank you and congratulations to the following volunteers, who have been put forward for recognition of volunteer service this year.


To kick off the week, we would like to recognise and thank our young Braves volunteers, Dusty, Hamish, and Angus Moss!

For the past year, Dusty, Hamish, and Angus have been an essential part of our Bendigo Braves game days, wiping the floors clean to ensure the players’ safety (not to mention, they also get the best seat in the house – courtside!)

The boys are familiar faces around here at Red Energy Arena. If you’ve been to a Braves game, we’re sure you’ll recognise Dusty, who never fails to entertain the crowd while keeping the court floors slip-free in one of his spectacular kits – including his infamous rubber ducky suit!

We spoke to Dusty about his volunteer role, and here’s what he had to say:

Why do you volunteer?
“It’s a great way to give back to the community!”

What do you enjoy most about it?
“Getting to know lots of new people and becoming friends with the players.”

How would you describe the volunteer spirit?
“It’s always a happy place at the arena, working alongside other volunteers.”

What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a volunteer within their community?
“Give it a go, it is very rewarding!”



On day two of National Volunteer Week, we would like to acknowledge volleyball volunteer, Vanessa Phillips!

Vanessa has been a Bendigo Volleyball Association volunteer for 13 years, serving in various roles including President, Vice President, and General Member of the Bendigo Volleyball Association Board.

Prior to this, Vanessa volunteered for the Bendigo Braves for 4 years as a Committee Member and Team Manager for the Big V Men’s Youth League.

Vanessa began her volunteering journey to ignite her passion for helping people succeed.

“When we help others to succeed, we’re doing more than just giving them a helping hand – we are empowering them to achieve their goals and reach their potential,” says Vanessa. “This can be incredibly rewarding, both for the person being helped, and for the person doing the helping.”

Vanessa’s passion for volleyball and for making strong connections within the community, makes her an asset to the Bendigo volleyball volunteer team.

“Over the years, I have had the opportunity and privilege to interact with a diverse range of people of all different ages, and from a variety of backgrounds,” she said.

“As a result, I have developed and maintained many strong lifelong friendships.”

What does the volunteer spirit mean to Vanessa?

“The volunteer spirit is about kindness, inclusion, support, acknowledgment of people’s differences, and giving with the reward being the positive contribution you make.”


Don Karla 2

We would like to recognise and thank a couple of very familiar faces from around here at the arena – Karla and Don Coulson, who have served a huge 60 years of volunteer service with BSL!

Karla and Don both started playing basketball here in the early 60s, and still live and breathe the sport! They have been like family ever since their early basketball careers, transitioning through several volunteer roles.

To name just a few, they have been involved in coaching, refereeing, the BBA board and more recently, court supervision.

Some fun facts for your Thursday – Karla was the first coach for the Braves Women’s team in 1986 and Don coached Dyson Daniels in U14s for two years!

For Karla it’s all about the sport and keeping in touch with the community and players.

“I love giving back to the community – being someone that can inspire young people and help them further their own dreams is really important to me,” said Karla

“From coaching players like Kelly Wilson and Gabe Richards, just watching them grow up and do so well gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

In 2000 Karla and Don were recipients of the Centennial Federation Medal, recognising their contributions to the sport of basketball, and in 2013 they were awarded with 50 years of service to Victorian basketball (just to name a couple!)



We would like to recognise and thank one of our longest serving volunteers, Peter Allan. Peter has been an active member of the Bendigo Basketball community since 1963!

Peter has served in various volunteer positions over the years, including coaching, BBA Secretary, both BBA and BSL board member, and Beavers Secretary. He is also an active volunteer within the Bendigo community outside the arena.

Peter has seen Red Energy Arena transition through many stages over the years, and his passion for basketball is unwavering.

“I love to see kids get out and play their favourite sports – and making sure we have enough coaches, referees and volunteers to keep everything running well,” says Peter.

“I have a strong knowledge of basketball, and over the years I’ve been volunteering, the most rewarding thing for me is seeing more kids playing sport because we have enough volunteers and people to run all the games.”

Peter believes volunteering and helping within your local community is a huge part of the Australian way, and he urges more people to get involved.

“If you want society to get better – volunteer and get involved. It makes life and society a better place for all.”



We would like to thank Geoff Adcock for his service to Bendigo volleyball over the past 28 years and counting!

Geoff has volunteered in various positions with the Bendigo Volleyball Association (BVA), including coaching, refereeing, website management, BVA Board Member and BVA President. He also established and managed the Bendigo Junior City Volleyball Tournament.

Volunteering has always been a way of life for Geoff, growing up in a family that has always been very active within the local community. Outside of volleyball, Geoff’s volunteer work has extended to Scouts, Red Cross, and Rotary to name a few. Geoff’s mother, now 96, still volunteers and has been a key source of inspiration for him!

Geoff believes it’s important to offer voluntary services to the community to help make society a better place now, and for generations to come.

“I feel that I have had such a wonderful life much due to the efforts of others,” he says. “Coming from a working-class family it has been the many volunteers who helped me achieve my life successes.”

“I feel the need to offer similar opportunities to others and the various communities in which I have lived – I find that there is great satisfaction in volunteering, and I have met many wonderful people over the years.”



Elsie Rodgers is Secretary of the Bendigo Volleyball Association (BVA) and has been volunteering for the past five years.

Elsie supports the BVA board in running volleyball competitions on Thursday nights at the arena, as well as being involved in other tournaments such as Dragon City and Junior Dragon City. She also helps with a lot of the boring, yet essential stuff behind the scenes like taking meeting minutes and updating official documents like the code of conducts.

Elsie’s passion for volleyball started in school and she wants to help facilitate the same opportunities she had throughout her schooling years.

“I love seeing the juniors participate, watching them improve, and ultimately just developing a love for the sport,” she said. “A driving force for myself and most of the volunteers is seeing the enjoyment it brings to kids, and also making sure we have enough resources to run the competitions and grow the sport.”



You may recognise Ash Bennallack from the Braves merchandise stand, often working game nights with his two daughters. Ash also provides mental health and wellbeing training for the Braves teams and some of the Red Energy Arena staff!

“I volunteer with the Braves to set a good example to my children, and to contribute to something that is bigger than me, something that provides value to my community,” said Ash.

“It takes a community of passionate people to run an organisation that competes at the elite level in sport. On a practical note, I’m at every Braves game, so I figured I may as well be useful whilst I’m there!”

Ash believes volunteering can provide a sense of purpose and connection. He believes contributing something of value to others is a huge part of maintaining our mental wellbeing.

“Give unconditionally and be a small part of a bigger picture.”



We would like to acknowledge Nigel Starick for his volunteer work at the arena with the Bendigo Basketball Association (BBA) and Bendigo Braves.

Nigel has been volunteering here for 13 years! He is involved with the BBA elite teams and is currently the Bendigo Braves Game Night Commissioner – but also puts his hand up for anything else in between!

Here’s what Nigel had to say about his role:

Why do you volunteer?

“The love of the game, the diversity of the club, and the pathways it provides for Bendigo kids are probably the main reasons.”

What do you find most rewarding?

“The people you meet and get to work with, having my boys exposed to the caliber of people associated with the sport, and seeing local kids given opportunities.”

Why do you think volunteering is important?

“Clubs can’t run without volunteers, and many hands make light work they say.”

What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a volunteer within their community?

“Being involved in the ride is sometimes the best fun! The outcomes can be a complete eye opener to something you never thought of.”


A special thank you goes out to our photographers and writers, Craig Dilks, Steve Blake and Anthony Radford for helping our team create quality content and imagery. Your efforts and hard work are recognised and appreciated – thank you!

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