National Volunteer Week 2024 – Most Valuable Volunteer Nominee, Orietta Wheatley

This past month we had stations nominate their Most Valuable Volunteers (MVV) as part of our celebrations for National Volunteer Week. The winner of the competition was Orietta Wheatley, who has volunteered at 3ZZZ for 30 years. Orietta has won tickets to the 2024 CBAA Conference.

Orietta was teaching in Ballarat when she felt she was losing her connection to her Mauritian community. In a serendipitous moment at a teacher’s conference, she learnt about a Mauritian radio program being established in Melbourne. That marked the beginning of Orietta’s volunteering journey with 3ZZZ , which started as answering phones during 3ZZZ’s radiothons to becoming a broadcaster. Reflecting on her first time on the air she remembered saying to her convener, “Why don’t you put me on? I’ve been training for this so give me a go!”

During her early years on the air, Orietta found herself in unique circumstances, “the person on the panel was not always Mauritian, which was an interesting challenge because I was broadcasting in French but none of them understood what I was talking about!” However, this was helpful for her when she became the first female broadcast trainer at 3ZZZ, as it helped her teach people whose native language was not English.

Currently she is still a broadcast trainer and presenter on the Mauritian program. In addition to these roles, she is also the pioneer of the program Women’s World, which celebrated its 17th anniversary last year. This program holds a special place for Orietta, as she is passionate about empowering other people, in particular women, through teaching them broadcasting skills.

“I love being able to train women because in some communities they’re not always given much of an opportunity,” Orietta said. “I wasn’t allowed to do the panel until Women’s World came along and all the women doing Women’s World decided we would know how to panel.”

Ultimately, Orietta loves that volunteering in community radio has helped her reconnect with her Mauritian community. Orietta said that with radio broadcasting “you know who you’re talking to. It could be your own grandmother,” she added laughing. “In community radio there is a strong link with heritage that cannot be found in any other area of volunteering.”

Stay tuned to read about other valuable volunteers in the community broadcasting world!

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