The National NEIS Association has held the final National NEIS Association (NNA) Awards, moving on in 2023 to the National Self-Employment Association Awards


Finalists for the 2021 National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) NEIS Business Awards have been announced and judging is underway to determine the winner for each category. We hope to have the opportunity to celebrate their achievements at a face-to-face awards event later this year, but for now, winners will be announced at our online member award event scheduled for 16th June 2022. 

As usual, there were a high number of fantastic nominations. Congratulations to all the finalists! 


The Best New Business award is presented to a new business that has been in operation for less than 2 years.  The award aims to recognise proprietors new to business who have demonstrated good business management practices in establishing and growing their business for long-term success. 



Finalist name: Steven Garrard
Business: Specialist Access Services Pty Ltd
Nominating National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) Member: My Pathway 

Specialist Access Services provide cost-effective, safety-based access solutions to commercial, construction, and industrial businesses. Steven’s business was established based on a gap he identified in the rope access market in Townsville. By offering a customer-focused service, where safety and professionalism are paramount, coupled with a good marketing strategy has allowed Steven to secure some great clients, including a State Government contract, and is now set to see a long term future in the sector. 



Finalist name: Lyndsie Storer
Business: Beautiful Little Minds
Nominating National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) Member: Asuria 

Unable to find suitable personal development workshops for children, Lyndsie decided to create her own. Beautiful Little Minds is a creative mindfulness business that aims to empower children, decrease anxiety, understand and increase positive emotions, build confidence and, most importantly, make it fun! The Beautiful Little Minds program includes songs, books, meditations, and activities, all created by Lyndsie. Her first book “What Does It Mean To Be Grateful” reached number two as a best seller, and she also has had two songs that reached number one on the iTunes charts for children’s songs. 



Finalist name: Darcy Collins
Business: Señor Fresh
Nominating National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) Member: Holmesglen Institute 

Señor Fresh is Melbourne’s first gourmet superfood smoothie van, offering 13 unique, delicious and healthy smoothy flavours. Darcy was keen to “shake up” the smoothy industry by offering low sugar, undiluted smoothies at affordable prices while caring for the environment. Starting his business during one of Melbourne’s many lockdowns, wasn’t easy, but Darcy’s hard work and determination paid off and he is now in the enviable position of having to turn down work due to high demand. 


Finalist name: Charlie Rice
Business: Holistic Hygienist
Nominating National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) Member: Auctus Training and Education 

With over 13 years of experience in the dental care sector, Charlie recognised a need and was determined to make oral health and teeth whitening products accessible to all. Offering a mobile dental service, and dental kits and products, Holistic Hygienist aims to address the dental needs of clients in rural and regional communities on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. The business provides affordable, preventative oral hygiene treatments that encompass individual wellbeing and lessens the environmental impact of the dental industry. 


Finalist name: Mohd Mohammad
Business: Yakka Cloud Pty Ltd
Nominating National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) Member: ABS Institute 

Yakka Cloud is a Tier 2 Internet Service Provider, offering a wide range of telecommunication products including internet and SIP services to residential and business customers. Mohd’s passion and drive to make the business a success came from his interest in supporting and giving back to his local community. With his business model specifically designed to raise funds and support local charity work on an ongoing basis. 


Finalist name: Ersilia Festa
Business: Italiana (The Mediterranean Deli)
Nominating National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) Member: Business Foundations 

Italiana is a small delicatessen focused on providing an authentic Italian deli experience. Ersilia imports and sources locally produced Italian speciality foods, as well as other Western Australian produce created by local food artisans. Her vision was to bring high-quality food products to the market and allow her to express her identity and culture through food. Sound business management practices and determination have allowed her retail business to grow, and she now has the foundations for long term success. 


Finalist name: Jack Tanner
Business: Cyaround Australia Tours
Nominating National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) Member: My Pathway 

Jack started Cyaround Australia Tours with his partner Storm Visser in 2021, which was a culmination of their collective passion for nature, travelling and exploring. Their vision was to create an intimate, personal experience that allows guests to explore the wonders of the Northern Territory while providing them with an opportunity to ask questions and actively engage with their guide. Their nomination for the Super Deed Award (Tourism Top End) in 2021 is a testament to the value they place on creating a truly memorable experience for their clients. 



Finalist name: Isabelle Campbell
Business: Jolie Femme Store
Nominating National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) Member: Sarina Russo 

Isabelle’s vision was clear when she established the Jolie Femme Store. Passionate about reducing the environmental footprint made by what we wear, Jolie Femme produces handmade garments which bring romantic femininity to everyday dressing. Each garment is made to order and is hand-cut and sewn in Australia from recycled vintage bed linen. Isabelle’s focus on sustainability, creating high-quality garments and delivering exceptional customer service has allowed her to build an extensive following and attract both local and international customers. 



The BizCover Change award recognises that NEIS often changes lives forever. To be eligible for this award, the business must be able to demonstrate that undertaking the NEIS program has turned their life around – be it financially, mentally and/or emotionally. The NEIS business proprietors must have completed their period of NEIS Assistance and not be in receipt of Government income support payments. The business must have been in operation for at least 12 months, and no more than 3 years. 


Finalist name: Gemma Nugent
Business: Sound Legal Pty Ltd (T/A SoundLegal)
Nominating National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) Member: Business Foundations 

After 10 years of experience as a lawyer, Gemma became frustrated at how inaccessible legal advice was for SMEs in the construction and engineering sector. She could see that there was an unmet demand for practical, plain English contract advice, delivered at a fixed fee agreed with the client upfront. At the time Gemma was also busy raising a young family and knew that a conventional legal practice was incompatible with supporting her family. Using her business & legal expertise, and the flexibility offered through her business, Gemma is able to contribute to a range of NFPs and community organisations, offering pro-bono legal advice and training services. 


Finalist name: Rachel Quagliani
Business: Rachel Quagliani – Photography & Design
Nominating National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) Member: Holmesglen Institute 

At the age of 27, Rachel found herself recovering from unexpected spinal surgery. During her recovery, it became apparent, due to a number of factors, that she would have to resign from a job she loved. The sudden change in direction forced Rachel to reassess her plans for the future. Having developed a range of creative, finance & business skills, and needing more flexibility to assist with her recovery, she decided it was time to start her own business. Pursuing her own creative services business offering Photography, Graphic Design, Videography & Web Design services has allowed her to find something that is both creatively & personally fulfilling. 


Finalist name: Penny Hagekyriakou
Business: Drool Australia Pty Ltd (T/A Drool Experiences)
Nominating National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) Member: Sarina Russo 

After 5 years as a practising lawyer, Penny came to the realisation that she wasn’t content and wanted to find something that fed her creative side. Keen to use her entrepreneurial skills, and with a great love of food, she took a leap of faith and left her job to chase a new dream. After time spent in New York, she returned to Australia inspired to start a niche food experiences business. Starting her business during a global pandemic was tough but her unwavering belief in her business, and her ability to adapt quickly allowed the pandemic to go from being a significant detrimental blow to a blessing for the business. 



The Unsung Hero award is presented to an employee of a NEIS provider who is actively involved in the conduct of NEIS. They may be a trainer, a mentor or involved in the administration of NEIS. The award aims to recognise those who have positively influenced the program from behind the scenes, through their commitment to excellence, positive attitude, and a willingness to go the extra mile to ensure the success of the program. 


Finalist name: Con Dalas
Nominating National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) Member: Auctus Training and Education 

Con shows an unwavering commitment to the success of the program and its participants. He connects and supports participants so well, and leaves them believing they really can do it! Nothing is too much trouble for Con. His enthusiasm is infectious, and is the go-to guy for issues big or little – he is the ultimate problem solver! 

 “You would be hard-pressed to find something that would hold Con back from making it happen. Con truly embodies the Auctus philosophy of – changing lives through education”. 



Finalist name: Helen Ward
Nominating National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) Member: Central NSW Business HQ 

Helen has been playing a critical role at BizHQ for almost 10 years. Her initiative and ability to support participants has been critical to the success of the NEIS program. Helen’s willingness to take on new challenges has led to enhanced service delivery and increased student engagement. During COVID her technology skills allowed training to quickly pivot online, and her patience and expertise have supported many students to gain new skills and confidence. Helen’s contribution has also allowed the organisation to achieve an 81% total reduction in paper use and a 100% recycling rate of paper products since moving to online delivery. 

“Helen has given her time to assist us with ongoing valuable support and information and I have found Helen to be a huge key team player, ensuring we, as students understand and move through each of the assessment tasks, in a very friendly and professional manner.”  



Finalist name: Renu Raman
Nominating National Self-Employment Association (NSEA) Member: Holmesglen Institute 

Renu’s outstanding knowledge and effort to support NEIS participants at all stages of their journey is exceptional. Her commitment to each individual has been demonstrated for over 13 years. Her unfailing care for participants and stakeholders ensures each touchpoint has a positive outcome. Renu’s personality and proactivity are a rare combination and are ideally suited to the complex environment of business start-ups. Her work ethic is outstanding, and her ability to go “beyond” the duties of her role to ensure a great outcome is achieved is highly commendable. 

“Renu is truly the glue that holds Holmesglen NEIS together, and her work as our Admin Team Manager is critical to the program’s success. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Renu and her commitment to service” 



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