"In this room alone, there are so many talented, innovative and very determined women," she said.
Time after time, judges repeated how close the final decision was, and seasoned reviewers said they had never seen such calibre among the nominations and final interviews.
For those who were lucky enough to win, this made the victory all the sweeter.
But for Mandy Drain, accepting the award for Business Woman of the Year, there was a greater purpose in winning.
"Four years ago, I quit my job, because I no longer thought that I was doing the right thing for people living with disability," she said.
"I went home, said to my husband I quit my job and then obtained registration to be an NDIS provider. It's been four years and I employ 23 people, people living with a disability, parents of children with disability and everything that we do comes from the framework of people with disability require support and service, they don't need us to do things for them, they need people to do things with them.
"That's what we do every day."
Ms Drain's leadership of her business, Taylor Made Outcomes, named in honour of her daughter who has an intellectual disability and profound autism, was recognised by the judges as being a step apart.
The judges acknowledged Ms Drain has seen her business through a three year audit process while building the frameworks of psychological assessments and social prescriptions to aid her clientele.
Ms Drain said receiving the award not only recognised the work that she was doing but also her push to create a better world for her daughter.
"People have disability, we're out there and we want just as many options."
A full list of winners is below.
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