Yooralla staff receives top volunteering award

Puneet Gulati, Lead Support at Yooralla’s Ventilator Accommodation Support Service (VASS)

A Yooralla support worker who received the prestigious Government of Victoria Award for Excellence in Multicultural Affairs for his long-running volunteer work, was recently invited to a celebratory reception with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Puneet Gulati, Lead Support at Yooralla’s Ventilator Accommodation Support Service (VASS) in Thornbury, was recognised for his volunteer work for various non-profit organisations and commitment to empowering diverse communities, with a strong focus on tackling harassment and bullying.

Puneet said that he didn’t expect to receive an award at Victoria’s 2018 Multicultural Awards for Excellence.

“Getting an award came as a surprise. However, I am grateful to the Governor, Victorian Multicultural Commission and Department of Premier and Cabinet for honouring me. It only inspired me more, to work even harder and make more difference, and to touch as many lives as I can in this lifetime,” he said.

Victoria’s Multicultural Awards for Excellence are held every year to recognise individuals and organisations that foster cross-cultural understanding, support migrants and refugees, and celebrate and promote diverse cultures.

Puneet said that when he received his invitation to attend a reception that would be hosted by the Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau AC (pictured above, left) and attended by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, commonly known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, he thought it was a prank.

“I had to literally call the Governor’s office to confirm, since I was not able to believe that I am getting such an honour to be able to meet his Royal Highnesses. Prince Harry is so humble and simply a beautiful human being. He briefly spoke to me about mental health and how it’s important to be able to share our stories and to talk about our struggles and our feelings because that’s what makes us human,” he said.

Kristy McMurray, Manager at VASS, said Puneet, who’s been working at Yooralla for the past decade, is a highly respected and valued employee.

“Puneet is an excellent role model at VASS and we are very proud of him receiving the award,” she said.

Yooralla’s VASS is a unique service that was purpose built for people who are dependent on mechanical ventilators and require high level 24-hour support. It is the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and offers both residential and respite accommodation.

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