Big thank you to disability staff

Last year two Essential Employment and Training staff were recognised in the NSW Disability Industry Innovation Awards, so it was fitting the 2014 awards were launched at Essential's Balgownie premises.

Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka called for nominations in 11 categories at Thursday's launch which celebrated the ongoing reform of the disability sector.

"The awards are an opportunity for us as a government and as a community to acknowledge and thank great organisations and wonderful individuals who have made huge contributions to assisting people with disabilities," he said.

"The focus is on those who are finding innovative ways to better assist people with disabilities."

People like Essential's disability employment service manager Matt Spence, who won the Emerging Leader category at last year's awards.

"I received the award for initiating, developing and pioneering a youth employment program in the Illawarra region in the broad context of disability," Mr Spence said.

"It started in April 2010 and we have managed since then to put over 150 young people in employment."

Essential chief executive Amanda Calwell-Smith, who has worked in the disability sector for 40 years, was a finalist in the distinguished service category of the 2013 awards.

Mr Ajaka said: "With their approach to finding vocational, lifestyle and employment opportunities for their clients, Essential Employment and Training are a great example of an organisation whose employees have made significant improvements to the lives of people with disability."

With the continued roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Mr Ajaka said all organisations should take a person-centred approach.

"People with disabilities will have the right and control to determine how they should be assisted - in what manner and via which services," he said.

"Organisations and individuals finding innovative ways to help people with disabilities goes hand-in-hand with a person's right to choose the services they want."

For more information visit nds.org.au/nswdiia.

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