ESSA congratulates 2020 Industry Award winners

22 December 2020

Each year, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) awards and recognises its outstanding accredited members who demonstrate, through their practice, a thorough understanding of the discipline and a strong commitment to the profession and the industry through their advocacy within the community.

This year, the ESSA Industry Awards received a large number of applications, with over 100 individual members nominated from over 190 individual nominations.

“After a year of chaos and uncertainty, the 2020 ESSA Industry Awards provided us with a great opportunity to take a step back and reflect on all the inspiring moments achieved by our accredited members with their clients, staff and community,” says Anita Hobson Powell, ESSA Chief Executive Officer.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate an accredited member or practice.

“All applications into this year's ESSA Industry Awards were of a high standard and, once again, it was extremely difficult for the judges to make a final decision – a true reflection of the excellence of all of our members and their commitment to the industry during a tough year.”

Congratulations to 2020’s ESSA Industry Award winners:

Accredited Exercise Scientist of the Year 2020

Dr Keane Wheeler is a proud Ngarabal man who works in the development of trauma informed physical activity at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), including in a Yugembeh language development program which is essential to the success of language incorporated as part of physical activity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Brisbane/Logan region.

Keane leads a multidisciplinary team which assesses the movement skills collected using wearable technology of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and uses this information to engage the children in STEM learning.

The judges all remarked on the important work Keane was undertaking to build Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s physical literacy. His research also enhances education for diverse learners in a post-COVID-19 environment and will have long-lasting effects on career prospects. Keane’s strong desire and willingness to build the cultural responsiveness of the profession, in partnership with practitioners, Elders and the Community, to encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to study exercise and sports science related courses was also significantly noted by the judges.


Accredited Exercise Physiologist of the Year 2020

Jade Ellings is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at the Children's Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CHQHHS) within the Child and Youth Mental Health Service in Brisbane, assisting children and adolescents with severe and complex mental health. Jade’s work has also included pioneering exercise physiology at the Queensland Children's Gender Service for transgender.

Jade is seen as a leader across the teams at CHQHHS and her practice and level of professionalism has directly resulted in other departments requesting access to exercise physiology services.

Jade’s work in a new area of mental health and children, especially transgender populations, was a stand-out for the judges. Through her non-stop determination to promote the ESSA professions whilst developing relationships between hospitals and AEPs, as well as gathering data to advocate for an increase in AEP positions, Jade is paving the way for AEPs in mental health and youth through her unique program offerings.

Accredited Sports Scientist of the Year 2020

Dr Jamie Stanley is a Senior Sports Physiologist who has done significant work pioneering the use of heat stress as an ergogenic aid (performance enhancer) for regular training and for acclimation for competitions in the heat.

During the past year, Jamie has worked as a key team member with four world class programs earning the respect and trust of the athletes, coaches and support staff. This includes the Australian Cycling Team - Paracycling program where he has developed the team’s strategy for optimising performance in the heat for the Tokyo Paralympics unique to each athlete’s impairment.

The judges were impressed by Jamie’s impact locally and internationally working across multiple sports and leading research and coaching education; his squad successes being indicative that his evidence base and developing “next practice” work. Jamie’s willingness to share his experiences and network with other colleagues and junior members of the industry was also deemed inspiring.

Practicum Supervisor of the Year 2020

Danilo Mangiameli is the Clinic Manager of the Victoria University Clinical Exercise & Rehabilitation (VUCER) Clinic which had to close due to COVID-19 at the end of March. Danilo’s trailblazing work identified a way to use the pre-existing model of telehealth and adapt it, from scratch, to the clinical practice requirements needed by his post and undergraduate students, all in less than two weeks.

Danilo has been applauded by students and colleagues on how he provides effective instructional and supervisory support for his students by emphasising teamwork and research collaboration. Due to his dedication and leadership, Danilo is seen as a positive role model to all his students.

The judges all agreed that it would be very difficult to overlook Danilo’s achievements for this award, having gone above and beyond to provide an exceptional student practicum experience at the VUCER Clinic. It’s clear in both his nominations and his submission that Danilo genuinely cares about his students and was able to adapt quickly to the challenges of COVID-19 to service new and existing clients. He should be very proud of the hard work he has implemented to ensure over 140 students could complete their practicum requirements in time to graduate.

Practice of the Year 2020

Thriving Exercise Rehabilitation Inc. in Crawley, Western Australia was founded by Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP), Dr Bonnie Furzer, who alongside fellow AEP, Dr Kemi Wright are the Directors of Thriving, staffed by ESSA accredited exercise professionals and university students completing their practicum training.

The team at Thriving offer clinical programs, professional education and training, and research contributions broadly across the domains of paediatrics, youth, exercise and health. The aim at Thriving is to ensure all young people, regardless of physical and mental health barriers have the opportunity to take part in exercise which has a positive impact on their lives.

The judges all agreed that the work being undertaken by Thriving Exercise Rehabilitation Inc. is truly exceptional and is helping create long term societal change and positioning a spotlight on the power of exercise and the work of accredited exercise professionals. Creating opportunities for some of Australia's most vulnerable families and children is not only heart-warming - it is powerful, and it will be exciting to see how the research will shape the future of exercise delivery.

Congratulations to all of our 2020 winners. The individual categories will each receive $1,500 in prize money, while the Practice of the Year winner will receive $2,500.

Applications for the 2021 ESSA Industry Awards will then open in September 2021.

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