Creating a voice for the Disability Sector
Creating a voice for the Disability Sector
  • Gala Dinner
    National Disability Leadership Organisation's

    Disability Staff Recognition Awards

The Awards

It’s Time To Celebrate the Unsung Heroes in the Disability Sector

Shine the spotlight on the unsung heroes of the disability sector at the Disability Staff Recognition Awards held in your state.

Hosted by the National Disability Leadership Organisation (NDLO) which is a National charity. The NDLO was established to advance the social and public welfare of people living with a disability and to protect and promote the human rights of people living with a disability.

The Awards and Gala are an opportunity to highlight the extraordinary work within sector, while also raising vital funds for nominated charities. If you know someone who deserves the recognition, nominate them today for one or more of the eight awards categories. Winners are decided by a specially convened panel of industry representatives and anyone within the sector is eligible for nomination.

The Awards will be presented at a gala following the first day of the Disability Connection Expo in each state. The galas are a fantastic night full of fun, entertainment and an opportunity to connect with the community. Let your hair down and have a boogie!

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The Award Nominations

  • Brisbane Nominations for 2023 is now closed
  • Melbourne Nominations for 2023 is now closed
  • Sydney Nominations for 2023 is now closed

The Award Categories

It’s time to nominate your staff member or team who shows great leadership or goes above and beyond their daily duties, shows incredible care and compassion and is a credit to your company. Make sure you are part of this red carpet affair.

Do you know an excellent leader, support worker, front line manager or know someone who always goes above and beyond? Someone doing extraordinary work in the sector? Nominate them in one or more of these categories!

Or perhaps you have a top-notch team you are so proud of you want to reward and recognise their work on a larger stage?

There’s also an Expo Display Award up for grabs at the Disability Connection Expo for the best booth display. If you’re exhibiting, get your thinking cap on about how to make your booth stand out from the rest! Anyone can vote for this award so start nominating today!

Businesses and organisations: you need to get those nominations in for staff that highlight amazing work they are doing in your organisation or new projects you can showcase!

River Night

Does your NDIS provider organisation have professionals that display significant improvement to administration or services in the disability sector?

Or perhaps you know a provider with professionals really leading the way?

Maybe you believe your organisation has amazing professionals that deserve the best practice award for excellence in the sector?

River Night

Sector Innovation Award

Whether its projects, strategies, new ideas, drawing on research and best practice, reforming how they do things or how the organisation works, this person thinks outside the box and is creative, takes a current approach and revolutionises it. If not creating a new idea this person has led, dragged and pushed their service, team or even their Managers to a new level and never listens to the saying, "that's just how we have always done it".

Leadership Award

This award acknowledges and celebrates exemplary leadership that has a significant and positive impact on a business/organisation and the disability sector. At a local or senior level this professional has steered, inspired and supported their team/organisation through a challenging 12 months, new projects, change or service decisions that required expert skills and real passion, values and commitment.

Nominees must be nominated.

Above and Beyond

This award is to recognise an individual, team or team member who has performed or delivered tasks or services in an exemplary manner and have gone “above and beyond” what is expected in their normal range of responsibilities. We all know those golden staff that keep things going, save the day and stay on track when others drop the ball or challenges arise. This is for those people that always put their hand up when it is needed most.

Nominees must be nominated.

Contemporary Practice

The way this professional works demonstrates up-to-date knowledge, best practice and an awareness of current research, with experience drawn on past history and recognition about where we have come from as a sector and where we are going in the future. They devote themselves to new ideas and are always looking for the latest research to improve practice and outcomes for participants and the organisation.

Expo Display Award

Awarded to the exhibitor voted the best at each Disability Connection Expo by visitors and fellow exhibitors. This isn't just the biggest, most expensive display money can buy. This is voted by those attending and will be all about presentation, engagement, service experience and creativity. All those important factors go into making a truly exceptional exhibition experience for visitors and fellow exhibitors and are the things that get the best results for a business/organisation.

Team Award

Presented to the most outstanding NDIS provider team that displays exceptional service to participants in the disability sector. This will be a close-knit team, which is constantly raising the bar and have a natural click and team energy. They may be professionals delivering face-to-face programs, internal stars, project groups or committees or exceptional staff teams working with participants.


Front Line Manager Award

The winner of this award will demonstrate they are constantly there for their team, they have their staff's best interests at heart and they have their team’s back. They will be the service/front line manager directly responsible for outstanding results and work during the last 12 months, which have seen great pressure and challenges placed on providers.

Support Worker of Year

All Support Workers are amazing in what they do. It is a specialist area not many people are well suited to or even understand. This award will go to the support worker deemed to have achieved great results, who went above and beyond and showed true professional excellence with supporting others.

Thank you to the following sponsors

    Meet the Judges

    • Chris Joseph

      Chris Joseph

      Aspire Hub

      Being actively involved for the last 15 years, Chris is an acute leader within the disability support space. Chris understands the needs of people with disability to access timely and quality supports and marries these needs with the community to develop sustainable solutions. This ensures that our services are consistently growing and aligned with our participants’ changing needs. Recently, Chris has worked with selected builders to deliver a suite of self-contained apartments in a shared living arrangement as an innovative approach to a growing need for purpose driven design that allows for developing independent living skills whilst maintaining utmost privacy and social interaction.

      Chris is also fronting the collaboration between Aspire Hub and Pinnacle Training Hub to deliver a suite of comprehensive training. Through this initiative, Chris strives to attract and prepare more people to join the disability support industry and address the escalating need for quality support staff.

    • Lee Jensen

      Lee Jensen

      KARE Support Services Pty Ltd

      I am the CEO and Founder KARE Support Services. I started KARE after seeing firsthand the struggles that families go through finding supports and navigating the NDIS.

      I grew up living with Autism and have three kids with Autism. I have previously worked in Education as well as having managed several charities. I have a unique viewpoint into the lives of those living with disabilities as I live this everyday as a person with one, as well as being the carer for my wife and three kids. I believe that the amazing support workers who work with clients every day to ensure a better life need recognition and these awards are a great step towards this.
    • Sue Grier

      Sue Grier

      Let's Connect
      Managing Director

      35 years of experience in the disability sector and Managing Director of Lets Connect. Mum of an incredible son who is the reason behind what I do. He is the centre of my life ensuring he has excellent support for his life. Being a judge for DAC awards gives us the opportunity to meet the amazing people who are providing excellent support to the disability sector.
    • Amanda Palmer

      Amanda Palmer

      ASAP Solutions
      NDIS Plan Manager

      I have worked as a NDIS Plan Manager since 2018 and have met so many incredible people who are passionate about supporting and advocating for participants. I am delighted to be involved as a judge to help recognise the contributions of all the wonderful and dedicated people involved in this industry.

    • Mak Laddha

      Mak Laddha

      Blossom Community Care
      CEO and Founder

      “I am the CEO and founder of Blossom Community Care. I have extensive experience in providing, coordinating, and managing support services for NDIS participants. I’ve decided to get involved in the judging panel because it’s important to acknowledge the efforts and achievements of people working under the scheme. NDIS workers and businesses are developing and improving other people’s lives on a daily basis, and it’s integral that we acknowledge their hard work. It is rewarding and integral to uphold standard of service and delivery."
    • Joan Gregory

      Joan Gregory


      I am a Nursing graduate from Notre Dame University Perth 2004.

      I spent many of my formative years working in various residential care homes for people with disabilities, aged care, mental health, and rehabilitation units in Perth.

      I have a unique viewpoint of the hard work, dedication, passion, and skill that goes into running a successful care service.That experience has stuck with me to this day and forever left me in awe of the countless Managers, Nurses, Coordinators, Support worker teams who put others’ needs before their own day in and day out to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our society are cared for.
    • Ruth Lopez Gonzales

      Ruth Lopez Gonzales

      CEO, Founder

      Ruth Lopez Gonzalez is the CEO and founder of Accessible Care & Lifestyle Services (ACALS), which provides quality community services for people with disabilities and older members of the community. With over 20 years of experience in community services, Ruth understands the needs of participants and clients, and has created a service that puts them first. She has a diverse team of 100 staff, many of whom have been with ACALS since the beginning, resulting in continuity of care and a personalised, first-class service. As an entrepreneur, leader and change maker, Ruth understands the challenges faced by sole parents and immigrants, and has created a service that cuts out red tape and embraces diversity, making it easier for people to access the support they need.
    • Sarah Clarke

      Sarah Clarke

      Connected Support Group
      Operations Director

      Sarah Clarke has spent over 20 years in caring roles, including as a personal carer and an enrolled nurse, as well as working with people in disability support and coordination roles. She has a passion for helping people achieve their goals, especially those with disabilities, as she has personal experience raising neuro diverse children with psychosocial disabilities.

      As the Operations Director of Connected Support Group, Sarah leads a team of empathetic support workers and allied health professionals who collaborate with participants to progress towards their goals. Sarah is excited to be a judge on a panel that recognises the achievements of people working in the disability sector, as she values being able to share their experiences

    The Disability Staff Recognition Awards brought to you by

    National Disability Leadership organisation

    National Disability Leadership Organisation

    The Disability Staff Recognition Awards are proudly hosted by the NDLO - National Disability Leadership Organisation. The Awards are held as part of a slate of events run by the NDLO across Australia to highlight the incredible work of disability staff and organisations in the sector, and to raise vital funds for charity.

    Terms and Conditions

    Thank you for your interest in participating in the 2023 Disability Staff Recognition Awards

    This document is our ‘terms and conditions’ and if you want to participate in the awards program, you’ll need to adhere to the details we’ve outlined for you below. It is important you comply with these terms and conditions, otherwise we reserve the right to disqualify you or declare your entry ineligible.

    The 2023 Disability Staff Recognition Awards Gala Dinners is hosted by the National Disability Leadership Organisation (NDLO) which is the charity arm of Developing Australian Communities. The NDLO shall be referred to as the “us” or the “the Organiser”.

    The NDLO’s privacy policy applies to your involvement in the awards. The privacy policy can be found here. By participating, you consent those with access to your information to use it to administer the Awards, send you marketing, invite you to be part of our initiatives including case studies, polls/surveys and to improve any products and services of ours. Questions stating that they will remain confidential will remain in confidence of the Disability Staff Recognition Awards judging panel and will not be distributed to third parties.

    If you would like to access or correct the personal information that we hold about you, or wish to withdraw your consent to receive Awards material, please call the Developing Australian Communities team on 1300 910 503. Any reference to ‘you’ or ‘your’ includes you in your personal capacity, as a representative of the business, as well as the business being entered into the Awards.


    To enter the Awards, the business needs to:

    • Must be a registered business with a current ABN/Tax ID;
    • Submit an application;
    • All information provided in each application must be true to the best of your knowledge. Proof may be requested at any time during the judging process
    • One representative must attend the 2023 Disability Staff Recognition Awards Gala Dinner;

    Please make sure you read the rules of entry carefully as we take the integrity of our Awards program seriously. We’re proud of the Awards program and all of our Alumni. All information you include in your entry form must be true and correct.

    What we expect from you

    You’ll need to make sure that at least one representative from your organisation attends the 2023 Disability Staff Recognition Awards Gala Dinner. You agree that we may use your logo, business identity and details about your business (excluding confidential information) in any way in any material which promotes the Awards or the products or services of us. You agree to allow us to contact you to provide comments about the Awards and to take photos or video footage of you, your business and your representative(s), and use any of the material collected as part of your participation. If we do use any of the materials listed above, you grant us a royalty free, perpetual and irrevocable licence to use the materials for promotional purposes.

    Intellectual property

    All intellectual property rights related to the Awards, including the information and data we collect, belong to us. You’ll still own any intellectual property rights you already owned prior to entering the Awards. You also assign, including by way of a present assignment, and assignment of all rights that may arise in the future, all intellectual property rights related to any and all materials that arise in relation to your participation in the Awards.

    Prizes and judging

    There is no element of chance in determining the winners. They will be based on their written submission displaying the criteria required. Our judging panel includes Developing Australian Communities Management and the designated judges panel. The judges’ decision will be final and no further correspondence shall be entered into.

    Prize conditions

    Winners are only eligible to win one prize. We reserve the right to withdraw a prize if there are no eligible entrants to receive that prize. By accepting a prize, winners agree to participate in and co-operate as required with all reasonable marketing activities relating to the prize, including but not limited to being interviewed and photographed. We reserve the right to use winners’ comments, image and name for advertising and publicity purposes in any media in perpetuity without compensation.


    We reserve the right, at any time, and in our sole discretion to (a) request entrants to provide proof of identity and/or proof of valid entry (b) disqualify any entrant who we have reason to believe has breached any of these conditions or engaged in any unlawful or other improper conduct or any conduct calculated to jeopardise the fair and proper conduct of the Awards.

    We are not liable for any prize that may be lost, stolen, forged, damaged or tampered with in any way after it leaves our possession. If for any reason, we are not able to conduct the Awards as planned, including due to tampering, unauthorised intervention, fraud, any technical difficulties or any other causes beyond our control, which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of the Awards, we reserve the right in our sole discretion to take any action that may be available.

    To the extent permitted by law, we are not liable for any loss (including indirect and consequential loss) or damage or personal injury suffered or sustained in connection with the Awards including the supply of goods or services by any person to the Awards winners, and where applicable to any persons accompanying the Awards winners.

    The Fine Print

    To the extent permitted by law, we will not be liable for any loss or damage or personal injury suffered or sustained in connection with the Awards. You will indemnify us and our officers, employees or agents against any loss or liability from any claim or action that arises as a result of a breach of these terms by you, or your use of the materials or information supplied by you under these Terms. You irrevocably and unconditionally consent to all acts being done that would otherwise breach your Moral Rights. If a prize has not been claimed, it will be distributed at our absolute discretion.