June 8, 2021 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

thank you to all the nominees and congratulations to all our awards WINNERS AND finalists!

NESA Gala Ball 8818 1024x562 - 2021 NESA Awards for Excellence

AWARD winners 2021

Achiever of the Year

Supported by NESA

Category Description:

This Award recognises This Award recognises a former job seeker who has overcome extraordinary disadvantage to achieve employment.

WINNER: jascinta jones - nominated by atwork australia


SUPPORTED by Aware Super

Category Description:

This Award recognises employment services professionals who demonstrate excellence in helping disadvantaged Australians to achieve employment inclusion.

WINNER: emily markham - nominated by matchworks


Supported by JOBSBANK

Category Description:

This Award recognises employers who demonstrate excellence in employment inclusion of disadvantaged job seekers.

winner: angie's domestic duties - nominated by help employment & training

Innovation in Disability Employment

Supported by JOBACCESS

Category Description:

This Award recognises employment service providers, employment organisations and/or employers using innovative service strategies or initiatives that contribute to the employment inclusion of people with a disability.

WINNER: gradwise team - nominated by wise employment

Importance of the Awards

Since their implementation in 2004, the NESA Awards for Excellence have highlighted the commitment the employment services sector has made to improve individuals’, families’ and our communities’ economic and social well-being through employment inclusion. The Awards are an opportunity to showcase employment services providers’ service delivery strategies and innovation excellence, and the very real impacts that result from their efforts.

The NESA Awards for Excellence:

  • Foster high standards and provide a benchmark for excellence within the employment services sector
  • Recognise employers who demonstrate excellence in the recruitment and retention of disadvantaged job seekers in partnership with employment services providers
  • Encourage employers to adopt and support employment services programs
  • Honour job seekers who have overcome disadvantage to obtain and sustain employment
  • Provide role models for other job seekers
  • Recognise employment services professionals who demonstrate excellence in the conduct of their role
  • Promote professional development within the employment services sector
  • Enlighten the wider community about the adversity and disadvantage that are experienced by unemployed people and the effort required to overcome barriers to achieve employment
  • Reinforce the value of the sector, fostering job seeker, employer and public confidence

Award Finalist Benefits

  • The right to use NESA’s Awards Seal on collateral for two years
  • Promotion in national, state and local media
  • A high quality, framed certificate for all finalists
  • Greater recognition within the sector and with key external stakeholders
  • Invitation to the VIP-only Champion’s Reception held immediately prior to the Gala Awards Dinner
  • One ticket to attend the Gala Awards Dinner for each finalist or finalist representative
  • The finalists for Employment Consultant, Achiever of the Year and Innovation in Disability Employment are provided with travel** and one night’s accommodation to attend the NESA Awards for Excellence Ceremony.

In addition to Finalist Benefits, Winners of each Award Category Receive:

  • A prestigious Award Trophy
  • An Awards Seal and guidelines for use to promote the win
  • Promotion on NESA’s website and inclusion in the Annual Report
  • Additional PR campaigns

The Employment Consultant who nominated the Achiever of the Year is also provided travel and one night’s accommodation to accompany their nominee to the NESA Awards for Excellence.

All required airfares are return economy from the finalist’s closest major, regional or metropolitan airport.

Transport to and from the airport and event venue are at the nominee’s expense.

Champion Employer of the Year finalists do not receive travel or accommodation to attend the NESA Awards for Excellence

Innovation in Disability Employment Help Employment and Training Toowoomba 768x512 - 2021 NESA Awards for Excellence
Champion Employer of the Year Hume Doors and Timber VIC 768x512 - 2021 NESA Awards for Excellence
Achiever of the Year Abu Zahih Wahidi 768x512 - 2021 NESA Awards for Excellence
Employment Consultant of the Year Annie Crasti 768x512 - 2021 NESA Awards for Excellence

The Awards Winners will be
announced at the NESA
Awards for Excellence Gala Dinner

Tuesday 8 June 2021

Entry Rules and Guidelines

Overarching Eligibility

  • All Awards relate to activities undertaken during the qualifying period 1 July 2019 – 31 March 2021
  • All Awards are open to current NESA members and the job seekers and employers assisted by them
  • All Awards are open to employment service providers delivering any Australian Federal Government contracted employment service or program
  • Nominees must also meet the specific eligibility requirements for the Award category in which they are nominated
  • All submissions and supporting information are treated as confidential
  • Assessment of nominations is managed according to the NESA Awards for Excellence Judging Process
  • Multiple nominations are permitted and encouraged with a separate submission required for each nomination
  • Where a team is eligible to be nominated in an Award category, “team” is defined as:
    o At least 2 people working together to achieve specified outcomes
    o An entire branch or office
    o A geographically based group i.e. regional or employment area
    o A work group with an ongoing role in the organisation, or a time-limited group formed to achieve a specified purpose or outcomes e.g. project team

By submitting a nomination to the NESA Awards for Excellence, you:

  • Give permission to NESA and its Awards Convenors to describe your achievements at the Gala Awards Dinner and to promote your achievements to the media
  • Understand that your identity and that of the submitting organisation will be disclosed during the Awards process
  • Are granting NESA permission to reproduce supplied photographs (except where otherwise requested), the organisation’s logo and non-pecuniary information from your submission
  • Understand that your contact details may be shared with official members of the media pursuing legitimate stories regarding award nomination
  • Agree to abide by the judging panel decisions and accept that there will be no appeals
  • Agree to attend the Awards presentation in person or virtually subject to COVID-19 travel restrictions or personal circumstances.

Note: NESA or its Awards Convenors will contact finalists for the Achiever of the Year category or their representatives to review the nomination and agree on the information that is permitted to be shared with the media or used in NESA communications.

NESA retains the right to:

  • Contact finalists prior to the Awards presentation if deemed necessary
  • Withdraw the granting of a particular honour if the award entrant or nominated representative is not present to accept that award in person or virtually
  • Withdraw from judging any submissions received through a nominating organisation that goes into administration, voluntary receivership, liquidation or is declared bankrupt after the awards closing date.

Nominations must include:

  • An answer to each criterion
  • Uploaded files where they have been requested
  • A quality head and shoulders photograph or image of the nominee for individual nominees, or a quality group photograph or image for team nominees if applicable

All Awards are open to NESA members
who are delivering any Australian Federal Government contracted
employment service or program


Award nominations are submitted online; via separate online portals for each Award Category, accessed via the SUBMIT NOW buttons above.

Before you start the online submission process, please ensure that:

  • You have reviewed and meet the Overarching Award Eligibility Criteria, as well as the eligibility requirements for the award category which you are nominating
  • You have read the Criteria for the award category which you are nominating
  • You have read the Entry Rules and Guidelines

Instructions and tips for how to submit:

The online submission form must be completed in one pass; you cannot save a partial response and return to it later.

Please have the following information prepared, before starting your online submission.

  • Photo of the entrant (where required)
  • Contact details of the primary person responsible for the submission
  • Criteria responses, including any documents for upload.
    • In your criteria responses, please refer to your organisation using exactly the same name that is entered in the “Nominating Organisation” field in the nomination form. Do not use abbreviations, alternative trading names or shortened forms.
    • For any criteria with a word limit provided, please have your responses prepared in a separate electronic text document that you can then copy and paste into each individual text box in the online submission form. Your response/s will not be accepted if you exceed the word limit. Your word count is displayed for each response.
    • Supporting material – You may provide up to five A4 pages of evidence to support the claims made in the nomination. Please combine all supporting material into a single document (.pdf or MSOffice files). Cross-referencing supporting material in the criteria response is essential. Supporting information may include, but is not limited to, photos, data, graphs, and copies of commendations or other letters of recognition.
    • Any documents to be uploaded must not exceed 10MB per file.

Upon completion of your submission, an e-mail will automatically be sent to the primary person (nominated in your submission) to confirm successful receipt of your nomination. The confirmation e-mail will include a copy of your submission, including file attachments for your own records.

(If you do not receive the confirmation e-mail immediately, please check your e-mail Junk folder or SPAM filtering systems prior to contacting NESA on  03 9624 2300.)


Applications open: Tue 27 April 2021

Achiever of the Year   /   Champion Employer of the Year   /   Employment Consultant of the Year/Innovation in Disability Employment

Judging: 17 – 24 May 2021

Finalists announced: 26-27 May 2021

Winners announced (at the Gala Awards Dinner): Tue 8 June 2021

By placing an entry in the Awards, the submitting site / organisation is confirming their commitment for a nominating Employment Consultant to attend the Awards for Excellence in-person (or virtually upon special request) on Tuesday 8 June at the QT Hotel in Canberra.

Your organisation may be eligible for more than one award?


The NESA Awards for Excellence judging process is rigorous, transparent, and taken very seriously by the Independent Judging Panel. Judges invited to participate in the Awards are people who have notable expertise in relevant areas such as recruitment, business, health, community services and social inclusion. Revision of the Award assessment process occurs annually to ensure we uphold the highest standards of integrity.

Every nomination is subject to a comprehensive and rigorous assessment process using a standardised scoring and weighting system with auditing, variance and due diligence checks to ensure consistency with the Award criteria. NESA announces a maximum of three finalists for each award category. The judging panel will exclude nominations that do not achieve an acceptable benchmark score from the determination of finalists. At their discretion, the judging panel may identify nominations worthy of additional commendation, recognition or Award. A panel of at least two judges, including an Award Convenor, undertakes assessment of each Award category. Each judge independently assesses each nomination in the category, scoring each criterion and providing written comments including feedback on how to strengthen the nomination.

After assessment of all nominations for the category are complete, the Award Convenors conduct an audit, crosschecking all scores given by the category judging panel to identify instances where scoring is discordant. Where this occurs, Award Convenors review the nomination before contacting the judge(s) to discuss the rationale for their score. As appropriate, the Award Convenor may convene a deliberation conference to discuss the nomination(s) or criteria for which scoring has been discordant and/or request a re-assessment by one or more judges.

Following finalisation of the assessment process, the top three nominations are announced as Award category finalists. Announcement of Award winners of each category occurs at the Gala Awards Dinner held in conjunction with the NESA National Conference.

NESA staff support the judging process but do not participate in the assessment of or review nominations. Management of nominations occurs with strict confidentiality processes in place.


Sean Armistead

Sean Armistead is an Indigenous executive with experience in strategy and innovation across corporate, government and Indigenous community sectors.

He has worked with many of Australia’s top brands; Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, CareerTrackers, Hewlett Packard (Asia Pacific), KPMG and Crown Resorts.

At a community level:
Chair of Ganbina – Agents of Change, a school to work transition program for Indigenous youth
Board Member of Kinaway Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce
Board Member of Killara Foundation
Council Member of University of Melbourne Alumni Council

Cofounder and former Board member of CareerTrackers Indigenous Internship Program. Former Board of Worawa Aboriginal College, Tarwirri Indigenous Lawyers Association.

Sean is currently Executive Director at Indigenous Business Australia. 

Michelle Crawford

Michelle Crawford has extensive experience in senior executive roles in the private and the not-for-profit sector. She is currently CEO of Concern Australia, an organisation with a rich legacy of working with vulnerable young people and children in the areas of education; housing and homelessness; and youth justice (www.conceraustralia.org.au)

Michelle’s wealth of operational knowledge and governance experience, has enabled her to grow and develop Concern Australia into a strong, sustainable and innovative organisation. Her expertise and knowledge is grounded in management policy and practice roles spanning several specialised areas including employment, recruitment, education, training, microfinance and financial inclusion.

She is well networked and known for her commitment to working in partnership with others. Her experience includes facilitating and overseeing complex partnerships with corporates, governments, donors and community organisations domestically and internationally.

Michelle is passionate about practical and innovative responses that are developed and delivered by community, for community. She has a strong commitment to addressing injustice and inequality and a a passion for enriching the lives of others.

Michelle is currently participating in the Williamson Community Leadership Program run by Leadership Victoria, has a Masters in Social Science, Graduate Diploma in Adult Education, and a Bachelor of Business. She is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and currently serves as a Director on the Boards of First Nations Foundation and Union Housing. Michelle is also an alumni of the Cranlana Program and a dedicated Rotarian.

Dr. Peter Laver, AM

After 40 years working with BHP in senior positions, Peter retired in 1998 to pursue other interests where he remains passionate – education, science, innovation and employment. A former Chancellor of the Victorian University of Technology, Peter has held more than 30 Chair, President, Vice-President and Director positions.

This has included for organisations such as the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, National Board of Employment Education and Training, Victorian Learning and Employment Skills Commission, Community Advisory Council for the Community Support Fund, and the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes. In addition, he provides voluntary expertise to many not-for-profit organisations.

Adrian Panozzo

Adrian is the Director of Better Life Group, a social impact and strategy company dedicated to developing organisational change, shared value and social enterprise business solutions to social issues. He has also been highly influential in guiding organisations through positive transformation by integrating people, community, social and business goals into their vision.
Adrian was the CEO of Reclink Australia. Under his guidance, Reclink grew in membership of community organisations from 100 to more than 500. Some of his other achievements include a Churchill Fellowship, Stanford University’s Executive Program for Not for Profit Leaders, and two times finisher of the Marathon de Sable – a 260km seven-day race across the Sahara Desert.

Judges' Top Five Tips

Tip 1.

Take time to read and understand the criteria thoroughly – analyse the criteria to ensure you understand exactly what is required in your response. If you are unsure clarify the criteria with NESA.

Tip 2.

Make sure your response fully addresses the criteria. For instance, if a question asks you to provide a timeline then ensure you detail the response chronologically.

Tip 3.

Avoid writing expansive, sweeping claims or generic declarations. Such statements actually undermine the strength of a nomination, as typically, they contain very little substance and cannot be either proven or disputed.

Tip 4.

Be specific about your or the nominee’s achievements. Provide evidence to support your claims against the criteria and wherever possible use more than one statistic to prove the point. There are many forms of evidence that you can use to support your claims; data, performance reports, letters of commendation, case studies or examples – choose the form that best relates to the criterion and if the criterion asks for specific evidence e.g. data or a case study, provide what is asked for. If you use the option to upload supporting material, ensure you cross-reference the evidence in the criteria responses and clearly title the uploaded attachment.

Tip 5.

If you are writing about yourself, then be yourself. Judges want to get to know you from the pages of your nomination. They want to gain insight into the type of person you are e.g. your values and passion for what you do. If you are writing about someone else be sure to capture the real person in the nomination. We recommend that completion of nominations occur in partnership with nominees to ensure as much information about them as possible is captured in your submission.

Your organisation may be eligible for more than one award?


Are the Awards open to all employment programs?

The NESA Awards are to honour the work of the entire employment services sector and open to all NESA Member providers delivering any Australian Government contracted employment service or program.

This includes providers delivering major employment service programs:
jobactive (including complementary programs such as Career Transition Assistance; Transition to Work; Youth Jobs PaTH; ParentsNext; NEIS; Time to Work, Disability Employment Services (DES) and the Community Development Program (CDP).

The Awards cover all employment programs however please check each award category description and specific eligibility criteria.

Can I enter multiple candidates for one award?

Yes. NESA member organisations are encouraged to enter more than one nomination within a category.

Can I enter one candidate in more than one award?

Yes. NESA member organisations are encouraged to enter nominees across all categories for which they are eligible however, a unique submission is required for each award.

Can I re-enter a candidate from previous years?

Yes, provided the candidate met the eligibility criteria.

Can we submit a few days late?

No. In the interest of fairness to all participants, no late entries will be accepted.

Who can I ask questions about the Awards?

NESA staff do not participate in the assessment of nominations and are available to answer general questions about the Awards, Award Categories, Criteria and lodgement of your nomination. In the interest of fairness and transparency questions lodged with NESA will be shared via the FAQ to ensure all potential nominees have access to the information.

The former job seeker that I would like to nominate for the Achiever of the Year award will only have completed their 13 week outcome by the closing date of the nominations. Are they still eligible for nomination?

Yes they are still eligible for nomination, however their nomination may not be scored highly in comparison to other nominated job seekers who have completed their full 26 week employment outcome.

Can videos be submitted as part of my nomination?

No, video files or online links to videos will not be accepted as part of nomination criteria or as supporting material.

Changes to Criterion 3 for the Champion Employer of the Year Award

Please note that the time periods requested in this Criterion have been updated.




We invite you to subscribe to NESA’s mailing list to stay up to date on the latest announcements.




Aware Super Logo


We’re the super fund for those who value more than just financial success. The fund for community minded people who see no reason to sacrifice integrity for performance, or vice versa. Our members include educators, employment services and health care workers, community service providers, public sector, police and emergency service workers.


Our members work in roles that breathe life into their communities. They expect us to do the same and to share their values. That’s why we work with members to redefine what super can be for them and their communities, today and tomorrow.


We’re Australia’s second largest industry fund, managing over $140 billion in savings. Our investments include renewables, affordable housing, infrastructure and new technologies, helping to create jobs, build a more productive economy, and support the communities where our members live, work and retire.


We’ve been putting members first as First State Super since 1992 and became Aware Super in September 2020. Aware Super is simply a new name for how we’ve always been. We’ve made our members a promise: to do well for them by doing good for all – a bold promise we find new ways to keep every day. Find out more at aware.com.au



JobsBank Logo
JobsBank is proud to celebrate leaders in diversity and inclusion who support those who need additional support to enter the workforce. From innovative recruitment approaches to the creation of long-term opportunities and the adoption of impactful social procurement practices, JobsBank is proud to celebrate the initiatives and achievements of champion employers.



Department of Social Services JobAccess

JobAccess is the national hub for workplace and employment information for people with disability, employers and service providers. Created by the Australian Government, the JobAccess service brings together information and resources that can ‘drive disability employment’. The service makes it easier for people with disability to find a job and provides employers with advice about employing people with disability, and the supports and programs available.

To find out more about JobAccess go to www.JobAccess.gov.au or call a JobAccess advisor on 1800 464 800. TTY users please call 1800 555 677 then ask for 1800 464 800.