Fraser Coast Ability Awards
Celebrating 25 Years
This year, we proudly mark the 25th anniversary of the Fraser Coast Ability Awards!
Over the years, this prestigious event has celebrated the accomplishments of people with disability on the Fraser Coast.
It is also an opportunity to say thank you to the people and organisations who work tirelessly to improve lives, inspire change, and contribute to an inclusive and empowering community.
Nominations opened 4 September 2023 and closed 30 October 2023.
The 2023 Ability Awards presentation was held at the Brolga Theatre and Convention Centre on Wednesday, 29 November, 2023.
The 2023 Fraser Coast Ability Award recipients are:
Ted Weber Individual Achievement Award – Emerald Wilmshurst
This year Emerald represented Australia at the Under 25 Women's Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in Thailand.
Regularly appearing on local news and media outlets, Emerald promotes Wheelchair Basketball as a sport of choice for people with physical impairments on the Fraser Coast, and her success is a great example to us all.
Young Community Spirit Award – Blake Sindel
Blake volunteers at Kirami Aged Care where he interacts with the residents, plays games, shares his school achievements and schoolwork, and ignites a positive outlook on life.
The residents look forward to Blake's visits and enjoy their chats and banter.
Sport and Recreation Award – Dyshart Morgan
Dyshart is a competitive swimmer who has excelled at the national level.
Dyshart is currently ranked number one in the 50, 100, 200 and 400-metre freestyle, and the 50-metre breaststroke in the S19 classification.
Education Provider – Hervey Bay Special School
Hervey Bay Special School has a longstanding reputation of making significant contributions to the educational needs of students with disabilities.
Their unwavering dedication and holistic approach to education make them an invaluable asset in the lives of students and their families.
Community Spirit – Lachlan Kavanagh
Lachlan is full of encouragement no matter your story or ability. He has established a local group where many can come and play Boccia, socialise and feel a sense of belonging.
Lachlan passionately advocates for people with disabilities and a helping hand for those in need.
Community Organisation – My Hero Disability Services
My Hero Disability Services has made a profound impact in our community through its unwavering dedication to inclusivity and empowerment for individuals with disabilities.
With a variety of innovative programs and initiatives, they have cultivated a supportive and engaging environment, encouraging participation from all corners of the community.
Community Champion – Joshua Armstrong
A dedicated support worker who displays an extraordinary level of commitment and compassion, Joshua also conducts free inclusive cooking lessons at the Sea Breeze Café as well as being involved with a horse therapy program.
Employment Provider – Sea Breeze Café Hervey Bay
After successfully providing part-time paid employment for a young NDIS participant, giving him his first taste of paid work, the cafe now employs four individuals with disabilities, offering them more than just jobs, but a renewed sense of purpose and dignity.
They also provide work experience opportunities and free cooking classes.
Ability Awards Hall of Fame – Emerald Wilmshurst
Emerald Wilmshurst, a remarkable individual, is being inducted into the Fraser Coast Ability Awards Hall of Fame, specifically nominated for the Community Spirit Award, Sport and Recreation Award, Individual Achievement and the Young Community Spirit Award in years gone by.
Her personal achievements showcase her incredible dedication to helping others, always exuding care and bringing joy to those around her.
2023 Fraser Coast Ability Award recipients
Ted Weber Individual Achievement Award – Selena Bentley
Selena has faced lifelong disabilities but was only diagnosed in 2013. Selena has high anxiety especially social anxiety but is continually working to overcome this.
While still studying, Selena has started her own business creating candles and tie dye products. She uses this business to give back to the community by donating products to schools or community groups to raffle off in their own fundraisers. Selena never says no to an opportunity to help others.
Young Community Spirit Award - Isabella-Kate Bellert
Isabella not only plays in the Wheelchair Basketball team, but she has also taken on fundraising for the club and volunteers every Friday night at the canteen all while working four days a week.
She finds pride in showing that despite disabilities, people are able to gain meaningful employment. Isabella does all of this with a happy disposition.
Community Spirit Award – Brian Reckenberg
Brian helps organise and run monthly community BBQ days to bring people together. Brian ensures no one is left out and everyone feels welcome.
He also has a lot of NDIS knowledge and offers to help anyone who may be struggling to access the support they need.
Brian worked hard to finding employment suited to him and has now been able to get a job that he enjoys and is skilled in.
He is a fantastic role model as he is always willing to give things a go, helps others in need and never lets his disability hold him back.
Community Champion Award – Joseph Pratt
Joseph has worked within the community for the past 22 years mentoring young people with a disability.
Joseph's holistic based approach encompasses the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of the individual and their families. Joseph promotes respect of yourself, others and the environment.
Joseph has contributed to individuals gaining valuable life skills and attaining independence through mentoring to become productive citizens of the community.
Community Organisation Award – Mary River Mighty Lion Hearts
As the only Lion's Club in the world to be run exclusively by people with a disability, they have been blazing the trail, and setting an example for their peers for how we can all give back to our community in a meaningful way.
The club can be seen at Bunnings running sausage sizzles, Harvey Norman cooking up delicious sausages and at Station Square working hard selling raffle tickets to raise money to give back to their community.
The club prides itself on its positive attitude, its atmosphere of inclusiveness and always having fun whilst giving back to the community.
Education Provider Award – Early Childhood Development Program (ECPD)
ECDP is an early intervention program for children 3-5 years with special needs who require an intensive, multidisciplinary program to develop skills and behaviours to maximise their potential.
The program supports children’s early learning and helps develop the valuable skills children will need to be successful learners now and in the future.
ECDP works collaboratively with families, early childhood education centres and the child’s future school to maximise continuity of teaching and learning to make a smooth and successful transition to their local school.
Employment Provider Award – Beyond the Spectrum – Taste of Beyond
Taste of Beyond has given people with a disability opportunity to be part of the community with supported employment.
They not only train, support, and provide employment, but they also guide in other areas like CV writing and customer service which would help employees in future opportunities.
Since their launch in February, they have employed more than 15 people with a disability.
Customers have reported seeing different employees growing in confidence and a great ability to complete tasks unsupported.
Taste of Beyond’s aim is to teach each individual transferable skills that the community require to go on to greater employment opportunities and to keep giving those with a disability an opportunity for paid employment.
Sport and Recreation Award – Hayleigh Kennedy
Hayleigh is a Multiclass T/F20 athlete. She was chosen to represent Queensland Little Athletics at the Nationals in Melbourne this year and came home with 1 Gold and 3 Silvers. She has also represented the Wide Bay in cross country.
Hayleigh has been a wonderful representative of the region not only for her incredible results but for spruiking the Fraser Coast in media interviews.
Ability Awards Hall of Fame - Michael Oxley
Michael, a member of the Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Sport and Recreation Association since 2003, has helped many people with a disability work towards their sports, fitness, health, and mobility goals.
Coach Oxley is the founder of the Fraser Coasters Wheelchair Basketball Club has won many awards over the past couple years. Michael has made some high achievements having one of his players he currently coaches being selected to play in the Australia Team and Queensland team.
Local accolades include:
- 2021 Community Champion
- Lead 2021 Community Organisation
- Coached 2020 Fraser Coast Sports Team of the Year
Michaels ongoing support of the emerging leaders and voice from the community has been unwavering.
2021 Categories and award recipients
Community Champion Michael Oxley Community Organisation Fraser Coaster Wheelchair Basketball inc Individual Achievement Dre Kelly Sport and Recreation Emerald Wilmhurst Young Community Spirit Blake Sindel Education Provider Maryborough State High School Employment Award Wilcox Bikes Community Spirit Rebecca Greenshields
2020 categories and award recipients
Young Community Spirit Award
Ted Weber Individual Achievement Award
Sport and Recreation Award
Community Champion Award
Educational Provider Award
Maryborough State High School Enrichment Precinct Community Organisation Award
Mary River Mighty LionHearts
OCTEC Disability Employment Services
2019 Categories and award recipients
Sport and Recreation Aiden Witt Employment Provider Kmart Hervey Bay Education Provider Belinda Epperson Family Values Carolyn Mudge Community Champion Sharon Kampman Community Organisation Treasure Trove Op Shop Community Spirit Patricia Milliner Young Community Spirit Jeremiah Hay Ted Webber Individual Achievement Award Jessica Stevens and Rhys Graves (co-winners)