Busselton's Robert Reekie took home the RAC Volunteering Award at the 2016 Regional Achievement and Community Awards last Friday night.
This year's regional award winners were announced at a gala awards presentation dinner at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.
About 500 guests gathered from across the state including Shane Love MLA, parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Regional Development to celebrate regional WA’s high achievers and community contributors.
Reekie has been acknowledged for his 24-hour support provided to men struggling with domestic violence, depression, anxiety and homelessness.
He founded the Mates Men's Support Group in 2003.
Accommodation is provided for 120 men each year and Reekie has supported 2000 men through his weekly anger management program.
"Mates" is supported by volunteers and Reekie commits 70 hours weekly and raises $80,000 annually to keep the charity in operation.
He provides free counselling, support and training to enable men to turn their lives around.
Reekie gave a powerful speech on the night and said receiving the award was humbling.
"It's very hard for me to accept this award because what I do is an everyday thing – it's a lifestyle, helping men change their behaviours," he said.
He thanked his family for their ongoing patience and support.
"Quite often I leave in the middle of dinner, I leave in the middle of the night."
He laid down a challenge to all men to make a pledge on White Ribbon Day (November 25) to collectively put a stop to domestic violence.
"It's all very well giving money to help the victims, but we also need to aid the people who are helping the perpetrators turn their lives around, which results in less victims.
Reekie said the award validates the past 13 years of dedication.
"I feel very, very humble. I’d really like the message to get out that we can stop this war, we can put an end to domestic violence,” he said.
“It's important that we teach our sons that using aggression and violence is not how you get want you want in life. We need to teach our daughters that it is not acceptable to allow men to treat them that way; that is not what a relationship should be.
“I would love to sit down and chat with local politicians to set up programs that are actually beneficial and not just the band-aid fix.”
Winners each received a $2000 awards prize from foundation partner Commonwealth Bank and a trophy.
The awards night on October 28 culminated a tremendously successful year with 320 nominations received from across regional Western Australia.
The 2016 category winners are:
· Community TAB Community Service Award – Andrew Foulon of Manjimup
· Prime Super Employer Excellence in Aged Care Award – Wattle Hill Care of Bunbury
· Insurance Commission of Western Australia Regional Safety Award – RoadWise Committee of Kimberley
· Curtin University Teaching Excellence Award – Jade Warrington of Withers
· Worldwide Printing Solutions Sports Award – Chelsea Randall of Newman
· Prime Super Community Group of the Year Award – Earbus Foundation of Western Australia of Wembley
· Indago Solutions Agricultural Innovation Award – Advance Packing - Fresh Produce Alliance of Manjimup
· Rinehart Development of Northern Regional WA Award – Onslow Chamber of Commerce and Industry
· Horizon Power Leadership and Innovation Award – Andrew Outhwaite of Geraldton
· LandCorp Sustainability Award – Wheatbelt Integrity Group of Newdegate
· RAC Volunteering Award – Robert Reekie of Busselton
· CHB Group People's Choice Award – Alycia Bermingham of Manjimup
· Department of Regional Development Overall State Winner – Advance Packing - Fresh Produce Alliance of Manjimup