disability services awards

We are proud to present the finalists across the two categories of Outstanding Organisation and Team Excellence in the 2022 HESTA Excellence Awards.


Outstanding Organisation finalists




Loom Arts and Management

Coburg VIC

Loom Arts and Management is recognised for furthering equality and respect for people with disabilities, demonstrating that artists with disability can achieve mainstream success. 

Loom exists to break down the barriers of arts industries so artists with disabilities or who are deaf are recognised for their skills as practising artists and cultural contributors. They provide highly individualised services such as professional coaching, mentoring, skills and career development in a manner that respects and treats the artists as professionals.

Artists working with Loom have expressed greater confidence and shown improved health and wellbeing, which helped them achieve their career goals and dreams artistic aspirations.

In future, Loom plans to develop their services to provide more artists with opportunities and build the capacity of the mainstream sector to become more inclusive.

Jigsaw Australia


Jigsaw Group is recognised for helping improve employment outcomes for people with disability in Australia.

Jigsaw’s innovative ‘prepare for work, through work’ pathway helps address barriers to unemployment, taking people with disability through a comprehensive workplace-based training program focused on transferable skills, to ensure they have the skills and expertise needed to transition into award wage employment. In addition, Jigsaw works with employers to promote inclusive working environments and support transitions, so people with disabilities feel supported in the workplace. 

Jigsaw has supported more than 700 people with training, employment, and work experience. They have provided 146 clients with award-wage jobs and transitioned 53 people into mainstream employment by demonstrating, influencing, and embedding change in the disability employment sector.

The organisation plans to focus on professional development for staff who have started as frontline support workers passionate about supporting people with disability to build their skills and have since been promoted into management roles. 

Autism Mates
Jumbunna Community Preschool and Early Intervention Centre Inc.

Casino NSW

Jumbunna is recognised for providing an inclusive environment for all and for developing meaningful relationships with those who use their services. 

Located in a small rural town affected by bushfires, COVID and devastating floods, the team saw a need to provide wraparound support for children and families in their community. 

Visiting paediatricians and hearing and vision professionals run clinics at the venue for families who would not otherwise have been able to access these services. Education is also provided to children from birth to 18 years, so they can learn while receiving the support they need in a comfortable environment. 

Recently, a Jumbunna student won an Apprentice of the Year award and acknowledged Jumbunna's role in their achievement. 

Jumbunna plans to direct its focus to upskilling and training staff members, while carrying out research and implementing evidence-based practices. 


Team Excellence finalists




‘Be with Me’ Navigators Aboriginal Family Support Services

Adelaide SA

The ‘Be with Me’ Navigators team is recognised for their dedication to Aboriginal people with disability by assisting them to access and utilise appropriate support while encouraging a culturally safe environment. 

Designed by Aboriginal people to support Aboriginal people with disability to have better information, options and connections for participating in community, ‘Be with Me’ Navigators sit within the Aboriginal Family Support Services organisation in South Australia. The team aims to keep the community safe and together, while increasing employability through education and training, including via culturally grounded workshops, free of charge, to support Aboriginal community members with disabilities.

To facilitate NDIS access for community members, the ‘Be with Me’ Navigators hope to fund reports and assessments that are not affordable for families in the community. This would streamline support, increase outcomes, and reduce the time spent working with families waiting for support within the public healthcare system. 

Communication eXtra team

Morphett Vale SA

A significant provider among the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, the Communication eXtra team is recognised for breaking down language barriers for its clients by revolutionising how clients’ NDIS information is communicated.

A data analyst was engaged to identify what information Communication eXtra could provide to clients about NDIS Plans, and research the different communication platforms available in the community. 

Several roundtable discussions with stakeholders concluded information should be a combination of easy English, graphs, and pictures to ensure more clients can better comprehend key NDIS information. This resulted in a new Quality Management System and the development of Easy Read and Visual Policies to communicate NDIS information in Auslan or visually.

Communication eXtra plans to use professional experience Auslan translators to explain each policy in Auslan, and graphic artists to visually depict all core policies and procedures.

Start Up
Down Syndrome Australia Health Ambassador Team

Armadale VIC

The Down Syndrome Australia Health Ambassadors are recognised for their tireless efforts to inform and educate healthcare professionals and students on how to include people with Down syndrome and intellectual disability in their own healthcare decisions.

The team of ten self-advocates with Down syndrome all received professional training in public speaking and presenting, so they could then go on to teach health professionals and students how effective, inclusive communication can make a positive difference in the experiences and health outcomes of people with Down syndrome.

By sharing stories of their own experiences, the Health Ambassadors encourage healthcare professionals to make reasonable adjustments and implement inclusive communications practices, resulting in better health outcomes for people with disability. Down Syndrome Australia hopes to continue the important work of the Health Ambassador program into the future.


Check out the other 2022 HESTA Excellence Awards finalists

allied health | aged carecommunity services

2021  finalists and winners:   allied health  | aged care  |  community services  |  disability services

2020  finalists and winners:   allied health  | aged care  |  community services  |  disability services

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Learn more about the HESTA Excellence Awards