Media Release by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Qld gym owner wins 2014 National Disability Award

Queensland gym owner John McDonald was a joint recipient of a 2014 National Disability Award at a gala event held at Parliament House in Canberra last night.

Mr McDonald shared the ‘Improving Employment Opportunities Award,’ with franchise owners Saronbell from North Gosford, NSW. He was one of 23 finalists from more than 200 nominations across eight award categories.

As co-owner of the Lifestyle Health gym in Browns Plains – and six other gyms –
Mr McDonald was described as a strong supporter of disability employment services, hiring five individuals with severe disabilities and mental health conditions.

Judges were unanimous in their praise of Mr McDonald, saying his “willingness to so readily include people with disability in the workforce sets a fine example to other employers of what can be achieved”.

The judges were also “very impressed with the excellent training and support afforded to John’s staff with disability and the flexible working conditions and career development opportunities he offered them”.

They said the nomination was evidence of “an employer who has fully embraced people with disability, providing equitable opportunities to allow full participation in the workforce” and “demonstrates the value of a workplace that is enriched by including people with disability”.

Mr McDonald’s employees have experienced increased financial stability and self-confidence after working at his business.

The National Disability Awards are a major part of celebrations marking the International Day of People with Disability on 3 December each year.

The full list of 2014 National Disability Award recipients and more information can be found on the International Day of People with Disability website.