IT'S been a remarkable week for members of the Find Your Voice All-Abilities Choir who Victoria's Disability Minister Luke Donnellan has now honoured with a prestigious state award.
Mr Donnellan awarded 15 representatives from the 170-strong choir with the Minister's Award for Outstanding Leadership as well as two highly commended awards at the 2019 Victorian Disability Awards on Wednesday.
"We wouldn't be where we are today without the leadership and perseverance shown from people across the disability sector," Mr Donnellan said.
Choir member Maree Wyse said the choir was shocked, after receiving nominations for two awards but remaining unaware it was in the running for the top award.
"It fits with what we do as a choir, we do things that are unexpected," Ms Wyse said.
"It's a big year and we are going from strength to strength. Its a juggernaut and we are going to keep on changing people's lives and creating opportunities for inclusion."
The choir, which started in 2017, has more than 100 singers with disabilities and has performed to sold out crowds in the south-west.
Ms Wyse said the award showed that any community could change perceptions of disability.
"We are being recognised for doing something out of the box, that is not aligned with any disability agency, we are doing this from a desire to be part of the community and share the joy and the love of music," she said.
The choir appeared on Australia's Got Talent last weekend and its performance, which had more than three million online views, received a maximum four yes-votes from the show's judges and a standing ovation.
Ms Wyse said the notoriety of the choir had spread widely, and Warrnambool choir member Bernie Cornford was approached for a photo on Wednesday with a passerby who recognised him.
"These things don't generally happen for people with disabilities," she said. "It's allowed people to know that they are important and that their lives are worthy."
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.