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Disability Advocates and Social Entrepreneurs Jordan and Laura O’Reilly recognised with 2021 Pearcey Foundation Award

Announcement posted by Pearcey Foundation 14 Oct 2021

The Pearcey Foundation today announced the brother and sister team behind Hireup, Jordan O’Reilly and Laura O’Reilly OAM as the joint recipients of the 2021 NSW Pearcey Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Hireup is a profit-for-purpose business aimed at connecting people with disability in Australia with support workers who fit their needs and share their interests. In just six years, Hireup has grown into a community of over 150,000 registered users and an established business widely recognised for its social impact. Jordan and Laura were presented virtually with their awards by David Thodey, chair, Jobs for NSW and chair CSIRO at an event held online today. 

The NSW Pearcey Entrepreneur Award recognises a NSW person in ‘mid career’, who is already a successful technology entrepreneur, and who has the potential to succeed further. The criteria are centred around taking a risk, making a difference and being an inspiration. The other award finalists this year were Employment Hero’s Ben Thompson (CEO and founder) and Dave Tong (co-founder, CTO and head of product); Manuri Gunawardena, founder and CEO of HealthMatch;  James Chin Moody, founder and CEO of Sendle; and the co-founders of Prospection Eric Chung, Peter Cronin and Rick Chen.

This brother and sister team have dedicated their lives to revolutionising disability support in Australia. Having grown up alongside their brother Shane, who had cerebral palsy, they deeply understand the challenges and barriers that people with disability in Australia face. They witnessed firsthand the lack of adequate support available for their brother to live the life he wanted to. They knew the same was true for many other Australians with disability, so they did something about it.

In 2011, Jordan and Laura launched Fighting Chance, a not-for-profit organisation working to identify the challenges, hurdles and barriers faced by people with disability in their everyday lives. Today, Fighting Chance supports more than 1,000 people across Australia through the operation of its social enterprises, including Avenue and Jigsaw - supporting people with disability to work. In 2015, Jordan and Laura launched Hireup, and in the last six years the business has facilitated more than 72,000 support connections, provided more than 9.3 million hours of support, and saved Hireup clients over $87 million in support funding.

In 2018, Hireup was named a Google.org Impact Challenge winner, as well as taking out the top spot in Deloitte's 2017 Tech Fast 50 program.

“Jordan and Laura have been selected as the recipients of the 2021 Pearcey NSW Entrepreneur of the Year Award due to the incredible impact their purpose-for-profit business Hireup has had on the Australian disability sector. Hireup has fundamentally changed the way that people with disability access support in the community. Through their inspirational leadership, Laura and Jordan are using technology to help create a new future for disability and a good life for all,” said Jamila Gordon, chair of the Pearcey NSW judging committee and recipient of the 2020 NSW Award.

As the Pearcey NSW Award recipients, Jordan and Laura O’Reilly will represent the state in the National Entrepreneur Awards as a key part of Pearcey’s Annual National Medal and Hall of Fame presentations (see below for details).

For more information about previous NSW Pearcey Entrepreneur Award winners, go to https://pearcey.org.au/nsw.


Other State Awards

Australia Capital Territory Awards: Liquid Instruments CEO Daniel Shaddock received the 2021 ACT Chief Minister’s Pearcey Entrepreneur Award. See further https://prwire.com.au/pr/99152/liquid-instruments-ceo-daniel-shaddock-receives-2021-act-chief-ministers-pearcey-entrepreneur-award.

Queensland Awards: STEM education leader and co-founder of STEM Punks Michael Holmstrom was announced as the 2021 recipient. See more at https://prwire.com.au/pr/99356/2021-queensland-pearcey-ict-entrepreneur-award-recognises-award-winning-stem-education-leader-michael-holmstrom.

South Australia Awards: a shortlist of five candidates has been selected for the 2021 Award by this year’s judging panel – which comprises previous award recipients Geoff Rohrsheim (2018), Tony Clark (2019) and Michelle Perugini (2020) plus two experienced mentors of entrepreneurs in SA, Mark Ledson, SA Office of the Chief Entrepreneur and Mike Richards, Polaris Business and Innovation Centre, City of Salisbury. The date for the announcement and presentation of the award is still to be confirmed. Major recent news from last year’s award recipient, CEO and co-founder at Presagen, Michelle Perugini. She is relocating to the USA next month to expand her business after signing a sole global distribution agreement with FujiFILMS Irvine Scientific for Life Whisperer, the fertility arm of Presagen. See more at https://www.lifewhisperer.com/fisi-announcement.

Tasmania Awards: nominations are currently open for the TAS awards. These awards are an important way to help Tasmania entrepreneurs, organisations and businesses become nationally recognised. The nomination form and submission details can be found at https://pearcey.org.au/assets/Forms/Pearcey-State-Nomination-Form.pdf.

Victorian Awards: this year’s recipient is Bronwyn Le Grice, CEO and managing director of ANDHealth. See further https://prwire.com.au/pr/98622/digital-health-leader-bronwyn-le-grice-named-as-2021-victorian-pearcey-entrepreneur-of-the-year.

Western Australia Awards: this year’s Pearcey WA Entrepreneur of the Year is Charlie Gunningham, Managing Editor, The Property Tribune and Startup News; and Founder & Principal of Damburst. He has spent more than 20 years in the Perth technology and startup sector, firstly as a founder himself, through to exit, and more recently as a writer, advisor and investor. He now works in an advisory capacity for multiple tech and other businesses, is managing editor of Startup News and co-host of the Startup West podcast. Gunningham was presented with his award at the 30th INCITE Awards, the longest running ICT Awards program in WA.

National Pearcey Awards

The 2021 Pearcey Medal, Hall of Fame and National Entrepreneur of the Year Awards are scheduled to be held as part of the November Pearcey Conversation virtual event on 24 November 2021. More details on the event are still to be confirmed. See further https://pearcey.org.au/national-awards.


About the Pearcey Foundation
The Pearcey Foundation Inc. is a non-profit organisation established in 1998 to raise the profile of the Australian Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry and profession. It was created in the memory of one of the greatest pioneers of the Australian ICT industry, Dr Trevor Pearcey. By celebrating the heroes in our industry, past present and future, the Foundation is looking to attract and encourage young Australians into this most exciting of global high technology sectors of our nation.

Web: www.pearcey.org.au

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