AIMING HIGH: Josh Barlia, 18, has been awarded Young Volunteer of the Year in recognition for his hard work and dedication to the Mildura Swimming Club and the wider Sunraysia community. Photo: PAUL MENSCH


HOURS of hard work, dedication and sacrifice has been formally recognised at a State level for one of Sunraysia’s youngest volunteers. 

Josh Barila, 18, a leading member of the Sunraysia swimming community, was named Victorian Young Volunteer of the Year late last month in recognition of his hard work and dedication to the Mildura Swimming Club and Sunraysia swimming community as a whole. 

Held at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne’s Docklands, the Victorian Sport Awards honours those who have made an outstanding contribution to sport in Victoria as individuals, teams, coaches, administrators and volunteers from both metropolitan and regional areas in Victoria.

It was Swimming Victoria who nominated the hard-working Josh for the award, believing him to be the prefect candidate, although trying to keep it a secret at first.

The silence was broken, however, when Josh received a phone call from the Victorian Sports organisation, informing him that he was in the top three finalists being recognised for volunteer work, which he thought was “pretty great.”

The Victorian Sport Awards is the night of nights for the Victorian sporting community. 

In partnership with the Victorian Government, the Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of ‘home grown’ sporting heroes and legends.

At just 17, the age when Josh was nominated for the award, the youngster had already held numerous executive roles and positions at both club and district level in the Sunraysia community club.

Originally starting his volunteer work three to four years ago when his coach “needed a helping hand” as numbers started to rise at the club, Josh slowly started to take on more roles such as coach and records officer, both in the club and for the district.

He has now accumulated a routine of roughly five hours a week of regular volunteer work.

Being a member of the Mildura Swimming Club for more than seven years, Josh has been instrumental in the growth and sustainability of the Mildura Swimming Club.

He is responsible for creating Facebook pages for the club, and the Sunraysia District, and updating both with new information and results, while also encouraging new members to join.

Josh also recently wrote, and submitted, a grant application for funding to secure new starting blocks for the Mildura Swimming Pool in order for Sunraysia to meet the infrastructure criteria to host the Victorian Long Course Championships. 

“I basically just try do whatever needs to be done…whatever I can,” he said.