media release 


23 February 2022   


Winners announced for 2022 HESTA Impact Awards


The founder of a global exercise approach for people with Parkinson’s Disease, an organisation supporting young mothers and a specialist housing and healthcare medical practice team were last night revealed as the 2022 winners for the HESTA Impact Awards.

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey congratulated Zoe Support Australia (Mildura VIC), The Haymarket Foundation Medical Practice team (Chippendale NSW) and Melissa McConaghy (Artarmon NSW), who each took home $10,000 in prize winnings.

“The positive and lasting impact these health and community services professionals are having on Australians’ lives is simply extraordinary,” Ms Blakey said.

“Inequality doesn’t just affect health and wellbeing; it can contribute to poorer retirement outcomes. That’s why it’s so important to recognise those who are working to close these gaps.

“Congratulations to our winners and finalists, and of course a huge thank you to everyone who has helped shine a spotlight on their important work.”

HESTA’s insurance partner, AIA Australia, is supporting the 2022 Awards, which aim to recognise health and community services professionals nationally who are having a positive impact on society, the economy and planet.

“AIA Australia celebrates the winners of this year’s HESTA Impact Awards,” AIA Australia Chief Shared Value and Marketing Officer Stephanie Phillips said.

“It’s been wonderful to learn about the passion, energy and drive of people in our community who are committed to make a difference in the lives of others.”

For more information about the Awards, visit


Introducing the 2022 HESTA Impact Awards winners:



The Haymarket Foundation Medical Practice team

Chippendale NSW

Areas of impact: Gender equality, Diversity and inclusion, Improved health outcomes/improved patient wellbeing, Sector-wide partnerships

The Haymarket Foundation Medical Practice team is recognised for their dedication to providing accessible, specialist healthcare and housing support services for people experiencing, or who are at risk of, homelessness.

“To be recognised in this way means a lot,” CEO Peter Valpiani said.

“It’s been a leap of faith to self-fund and launch a service that we can see filling a gap in care.”

Since the team’s establishment in July 2021, there has been a positive effect on patients’ health and inclusion. Most notably, 30% of patients have had forms completed for housing and disability support pensions, while also receiving medical attention.

Mr Valpiani said it was rewarding to see the “gradual shift” in patients – from starting out accepting pain, poor health and homelessness as normal to working actively towards a future of good health, housing stability and choice.

“This shift takes a long time, with lots of small milestones along the way. These can be as simple as creating a single comprehensive medical record, to developing trust between the patient and doctor, or seeing a patient start to become an active leader in setting and achieving their own health goals.

“We take a lot of satisfaction when conversations about health goals shift from being focused on how to survive the next week to discussing how better health can help achieve long-term goals and aspirations like engaging in casual work or renting an apartment with a spare room for their grandchild to stay.”

The prize money will go towards the purchase of specialist medical equipment for the Foundation’s larger homelessness medical practice, which is scheduled to open later in 2022, as well as establishing a fund to help pay out-of-pocket medical costs. The fund would help people experiencing homelessness who do not have access to Medicare, such as refugees on temporary visas.



Zoe Support Australia

Mildura VIC

Area of impact: Diversity and inclusion

Zoe Support Australia is recognised for their outstanding support of young mothers and their children, helping re-engage mothers in education, employment and social programs. Services aim to help break the cycle of welfare dependence, increase family stability, and improve physical and mental health.

CEO Merinda Robertson said she couldn’t thank her “amazing team” of staff and volunteers enough.

“I’ve been part of the Zoe journey since 2013, and the pride it’s given me to see the outcomes that have been achieved cannot be explained,” she said.

“Families are given the opportunity to thrive and the skills to provide the best possible start in life for their children.”

In the 20/21 financial year, Zoe Support had 57 clients with 83 children. Approximately half their clients had enrolled in accredited education, 26% were employed and 47% had found stable accommodation.

“Many of the young mothers we work with come to Zoe Support with previous experience with mental health, family violence, welfare-dependency, substance abuse and child protection,” Ms Robertson said.

“Through our organisation, they are given the opportunity and the supports they need to break these cycles. This is particularly rewarding when we see the flow-on effect in the lives of the children of these young mothers.”

Zoe Support relies on philanthropic funding and will use the prize money to continue its wraparound service for young mothers, providing education supplies and support, as well as practical assistance such as food and housing items.



Melissa McConaghy
PD Warrior
Artarmon NSW

Area of impact: Improved health outcomes/improved patient wellbeing

Melissa McConaghy is recognised for creating and developing PD Warrior, an exercise-based approach to help people with Parkinson’s Disease move, think and feel better.

Ms McConaghy said it was a “huge honour” to win the award.

“As with most health professionals I’m sure, I became a physiotherapist to contribute and help. To be recognised for that contribution and for it to have had an impact is incredibly gratifying,” she said.

PD Warrior delivers online and face-to-face training sessions directly to people living with Parkinson’s. The program also works to upskill physiotherapists and exercise physiologists to improve therapy outcomes.

As the founder and driving force behind the program, Ms McConaghy has grown PD Warrior’s following to more than 30,000 people worldwide. The program has also been taught to nearly 5000 health professionals across 22 countries in four different languages.

“PD Warrior has been one of the most rewarding physiotherapy programs I have ever created,” she said.

“It has brought hope, better quality of life and often adventure to close to 50,000 people and has helped to change the narrative away from ‘doom and gloom’ at diagnosis.”

Ms McConaghy said the prize money will be used to build a go-to app for people with Parkinson’s, enabling users to have their own support teams, discussion rooms, and access to hosted education sessions.





Media contact:

Sam Riley

General Manager Media Relations

(03) 8660 1684


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