Our Volunteer of the Year winners 2024

May 22, 2024

It’s National Volunteer Week and this year’s theme is ‘Something for Everyone’.  

JDRF Australia was founded by volunteers in 1972, volunteers are at the core of all that we do, and we want to recognise and acknowledge all our volunteers who dedicate their time and effort to help us create a world without type 1 diabetes (T1D) – we couldn’t do what we do without you!  

In light of National Volunteer Week, we are thrilled to announce our National Volunteer of the Year recipients for 2024. 

Adult Category – James Bracey  

Youth Category– Giselle Nelson   

We caught up with James and Giselle to hear about their experiences with volunteering, their dedication to making a difference for T1D and what this award means to them. 

James Bracey (T1D dad to Tilly, 5 years old)

James has been an integral part of the JDRF community as one of our most impactful and dedicated volunteers. James is well known for his journalism with the Nine Network and outside of work, James is a devoted husband and father to two daughters.  

His passion for JDRF’s mission is driven by his daughter Tilly, who was diagnosed with T1D three years ago. This was a huge shock for the Bracey family and marked the beginning of James’ dedication to spread awareness and become a volunteer JDRF Ambassador.  

One of the most powerful things that James has demonstrated is his ability to educate the public about T1D, and to provide a broad reach of awareness and education that has reached thousands of people.  

Since this time, James has been an active volunteer utilising his professional skills to drive not just fundraising, but to create new opportunities that simply would not have been open to JDRF without his dedication. 

James devotes a lot of time to supporting JDRF, highlighted by his innovative creation of ‘JDRF Nights of Champ1ons’ in 2023, which lifted the profile of T1D. We are excited that he will be championing the next event occurring this October.

JDRF was there for us the moment Tilly was diagnosed. They work tirelessly to improve the lives of those with Type 1 and their families. I’m proud to receive the recognition as part of my role as a JDRF Ambassador and grateful that they’ve given Tilly and our family the chance to do our bit in the fight to find a cure. 

James Bracey with daughter Tilly

Giselle Nelson (14 years old)    

I was diagnosed with T1D in 2019 when I was 9 years old, that day my life completely changed. When I was told I had T1D, I felt scared, because I had no idea what that meant. I knew nothing about T1D at the time. 

Since my diagnosis my mum has volunteered at many JDRF events including the One Walk, once I found out that I was able to volunteer it was all I could think about and how I could support JDRF and use my voice.  

Explaining T1D is difficult but I am passionate about raising awareness and I just wanted people to understand what T1D was like to live with. Having the opportunity to express something I was very passionate about at the JDRF One Walk was amazing! I then decided after learning more about JDRF’s advocacy program – I knew it was something I had to be involved with!  

Becoming a JDRF advocate has changed my life! In the past 12 months I have met the Prime Minister, my local Member, spoken at key events, and really felt like I’ve made an impact, I feel so honoured to be part of the advocacy program and speaking to key decision makers.  

Having met with the Prime Minister just a few months ago was so incredibly amazing, getting to talk to him about something I was very passionate about was a day I will never forget. We talked about T1D and how funding is so important so that we can hopefully live in a world without T1D. I feel it is important for people in charge to really understand how much impact funding can have on people like me, and so many others.  

Being a JDRF advocate and volunteer for JDRF has also given me the opportunity to meet many others just like me who live with T1D, it is such a great community to be a part of and I feel very lucky. 

Overall, I’m so proud of myself, and honoured to have not only been nominated, but to have won the National Youth Volunteer Award of 2024.  

Let’s all help to make Type One Type None!

Giselle taking a selfie with PM Anthony Albanese

Congratulations James and Giselle who have devoted so much of their time to JDRF and the T1D community.  

On behalf of JDRF, we extend our heartfelt thanks to all our incredible volunteers. Your dedication and hard work are the driving force behind our mission. 

If you’re inspired to make a difference, we invite you to express your interest in volunteering with us. Visit our volunteer page to get started.