ESSA congratulates deserving 2022 Industry Award winners

21 December 2022
Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) has announced the winners of its 2022 Industry Awards, celebrating excellence in a growing collective of around 9000 accredited members.

The annual awards recognise 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.

ESSA CEO Anita Hobson-Powell said more than 150 individual nominations were received this year. 

“The industry awards provide a great opportunity to celebrate and showcase the great work of our members in the community” she said.

“Congratulations to all winners and thank you to everyone who took the time to recognise their fellow colleagues by nominating them for their efforts in 2022.

“Their commitment to the community and to the industry is commendable.”  

2022 Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) of the Year – Devlin Higgins 

Devlin is the only Accredited Exercise Physiologist at St Vincent's Health Network, Sydney (SVHN), where in 2022 he was team lead for the COVID Virtual Hospital.

Other achievements during the year included embedding Exercise Physiology in a novel Diabetes in Youth Service at St Vincent's Hospital, established Exercise Physiology as an Enhanced Primary Care position for Palliative care and Chronic Heart and Lung services at SVHN and publishing a first authored front cover feature article in Endocrinology Today Magazine, advocating for Exercise Physiology referral pathways and exercise as medicine in metabolic disease associated with mental illness.

2022 Accredited Exercise Scientist (AES) of the Year – Hunter Bennett

Hunter provides an exceptional education experience to his students every day, leading by example as he strives to improve the lives of the people he works with in private practice, through exercise.

He is involved with the University of South Australia’s Invictus pathways program, a world-first initiative delivered by third year exercise science students as a final placement opportunity which provides individualised exercise training to veterans, to both improve physical performance and mental health. 

2022 Accredited Sports Scientist (ASpS) of the Year – Aaron Balloch

Aaron is currently the sole sports biomechanist at the Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) and works with both swimming and athletics programs at WAIS, with responsibilities also covering assessment, auditing and calibration of biomechanics equipment. 

He leads WAIS in sports biomechanics and is involved in many project collaborations with universities (UWA, ECU, Murdoch, James Cook University), national sporting organisations (Swimming Australia & Athletics Australia) and the Australian Institute of Sport, recently accepting an invitation to sit on the Technical Committee of the Institute’s National Quality Assurance Project.

Accredited High Performance Manager of the Year - Paolo Menaspa

Paolo leads the Performance Science team within the AIS, overseeing research and development, quality assurance, performance health and the REST Hub (recovery, environment, sleep, travel - recovery physiology). As an AHPM, Paolo applies leadership and management skills, working with a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to assist sport programs, coaches and athletes in the National High Performance system (Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth sports) optimising sport performance in an ethical manner. 

Paolo uses his deep understanding of sports science to deliver on the principles of an evidence-based approach to enhance sporting performance by working with coaches, athletes and other performance support discipline experts in the applied setting. His commitment to the profession was evident in his work leading the development of the National High Performance Sport Research Agenda in March 2022.

Practice of the Year – Active Ability 

Active Ability is an NDIS registered allied health company that provides exercise physiology, dietetic and physiotherapy supports to the disability community. The practice is co-directed by two Accredited Exercise Physiologists with over 20 years combined experience in the disability sector. It has grown into an incredible team of more than 100, including administrators, clinical managers, exercise physiologists, physiotherapists and dietitians, spanning NSW and QLD. There are 45 Accredited Exercise Physiologists at Active Ability. 

In April, Active Ability was also the recipient of the “Most Outstanding Allied Health Organisation” at the Australian Disability Service Awards, from a field of 300 nominated allied health companies.

Practicum Supervisor of the Year - Ciaran Hollingworth-Hughes (UniSA Dept of Rural Health)

A Rural Health Academic in Whyalla South Australia, Ciaran primarily supervises the delivery of student-led Exercise Physiology services to fulfil service gaps in the local community and surrounding regions. He has continued direct and indirect supervision of student-led interdisciplinary service delivery by exercise physiology, physiotherapy and podiatry students.

Ciaran has also supervised a diverse range of students from various educational, social, and cultural backgrounds, adapting his approach to practice based on student presentation, experiences, strengths, and gaps to best accommodate their learning needs and achieve their goals while on placement.

Individual category winners receive $1,500 in prize money, while the Practice of the Year winner has been awarded $2,500.

For more information about ESSA including how to find your local AEP, visit


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Pictured: members of the award-winning Active Ability team