National Volunteer Week Profile – Barbara Hawkins

Dedication, consistency and genuine care for those around her – these are just some of the qualities that make up one of WorldSkills longest serving volunteers, Barbara Hawkins.

Barbara began volunteering with WorldSkills in 1986 when she was a TAFE teacher in the Hairdressing and Beauty departments at Flagstaff TAFE in inner-city Melbourne. Her first role with WorldSkills was as an all-round helper around activities related to the TAFE, helping her to cultivate a variety of skills and knowledge that would prove invaluable. Following that initial introduction to WorldSkills, her passion for the work and the people struck her, and she could see that this was going to be a long journey, requiring her to wear many hats.

Over the pursuing years, Barbara has held many volunteering roles, including project writer, trainer and judge for hairdressing, beauty and floristry skills. These days, Barbara is an integral part of the WorldSkills Melbourne Head Office, directly assisting the operations and management teams to validate test projects against National Training Packages.

Last year, Barbara was awarded with a Life Member Pin WorldSkills Australia in recognition of her thirty years of volunteer service. What drives her to continue volunteering?

‘Somebody once said volunteering has surprise benefits, it keeps you mentally stimulated and provides a sense of purpose, it connects you to others, is good for your mind and body and brings fun and fulfilment to your life.  WorldSkills has done all of that for me.

It’s not difficult to get swept up in the world of volunteering for WorldSkills; it’s inspiring, it’s exciting and it makes you feel good knowing that you may have played a very small part in the life of a competitor who has given their all to succeed.’

Barbara also notes how her experience with WorldSkills has helped her to develop and grow her own skill base, ‘We as volunteers gain enormously from the experience. We listen, we learn and we engage with our future champions, the people that are going to make our country more prosperous.

I have made some lifelong friends that I value through my connection with WorldSkills and the networking opportunities have been enormous and beneficial.’

Being still supremely busy herself and with thirty years of volunteer experience under her belt, what is Barbara’s advice for how to successfully fit volunteer work into your life? ‘Ensure that volunteering fits into your career timetable. It has to, otherwise you find yourself not doing any one task particularly well.’

As a constant source of joy in the Melbourne office, what does Barbara find most rewarding about her experiences with WorldSkills?

‘Volunteering provides you with renewed creativity, motivation and vision that carries over into your personal and professional life.The most valuable skill you can bring to the volunteering role is compassion, an open mind and a willingness to do whatever is needed and a positive attitude.

If my volunteering has assisted or inspired one competitor to achieve their goal then I have achieved my goal.’