Australian impresario Michael Gudinski was among the big winners at Monday night’s Helpmann Awards ceremony, taking out a string of major category wins and receiving the Australian live entertainment sector’s most coveted trophy, the JC Williamson Award.

During a ceremony at the Sydney Opera House, Gudinski’s Frontier Touring Company won the best international contemporary concert category for the Leonard Cohen World Tour 2009. Frontier Touring, Chugg Entertainment, IMC and Mark Pope Music jointly raised the best special event trophy for the March 14 Sound Relief concerts, which raised more than $8 million Australian ($5.75 million U.S.) for communities devastated by the bushfire and flooding.

Also on the night, the Big Day Out 2009 nailed the best contemporary music festival category, and indigenous Australian artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu was recognized with the best Australian contemporary concert accolade.

But the biggest applause was saved for JC Williamson Award winners Gudinski and John Bell, founder of the Bell Shakespeare Company, both of whom received standing ovations.

“When I grew up in Australia, Australian music was regarded as second rate. It was all about the import,” Gudinski told the audience. “Well guess what, over the last few years we’ve done ourselves proud. We’ve got it all here in this great, rich country.”

While accepting the award, Gudinski revealed details for the first time of the anticipated Sound Relief DVD release. A four-disc set will be issued Oct. 2 through Gudinski’s Liberation Music, featuring close to nine hours of footage from performances by the likes of Coldplay, Kings of Leon, Midnight Oil and the Presets. All artists, publishers and labels who took part in the historic shows have provided royalty-free clearances for the project.

An all-star band took to the stage to pay tribute to Gudinski by way of the show's standout rock & roll moment -- a thundering version of Skyhooks' "Women In Uniform." Members of the glam rocker group reunited for the one-off performance, with rock legend Jimmy Barnes taking the mic and veteran artist Diesel on guitar.

The JC Williamson Award is bestowed each year in recognition of outstanding contribution to the Australian live performance industry, and is regarded as the foremost honor handed out by the country’s live entertainment business. Previous recipients include singer John Farnham, entertainment entrepreneur Kevin Jacobsen, opera legend Dame Joan Sutherland and last year’s winners, entertainer Barry Humphries and arts administrator Sue Nattrass.

Trade association Live Performance Australia established the awards gala in 2001 to recognize excellence and achievement across all aspects of live performance. Pay-TV network Foxtel’s Biography Channel broadcast the event live.