Valmai Dempsey

Volunteer at St John Ambulance

ACTState RecipientSenior Australian of the Year2022

Starting as a cadet volunteer while still in primary school, for more than 50 years Valmai (Val) Dempsey has dedicated her life to St John Ambulance. She’s one of the Australian Capital Territory’s longest-serving volunteers and, year after year, she still dedicates more hours than any other volunteer.

In 2020, Val faced her biggest challenge yet as a St John Ambulance volunteer – first with the ‘Black Summer’ bushfires, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, she led 40 fellow volunteers as they supported fire-affected communities during the emergency that stretched over many weeks.

Then when the pandemic hit, Val displayed unwavering commitment to the St John team, despite heavy impacts on team morale. Without hesitation, she personally contacted every volunteer to check they were ‘doing OK’ in terms of welfare, mental health and morale.

It is these tireless commitments to St John that has led many in the community to know her lovingly as ‘Aunty Val’.