Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is elected by the Members of the organisation for a two year period with half standing down annually. The Board is ultimately responsible for the governance and performance of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA).

The Board consists of an elected President, a Chairman (these may be the same person), and other Directors. The maximum size of the Board is nine. Persons with disabilities constitute a majority of the board.

All Directors operate in a voluntary capacity. They meet at least once a month and more frequently if needed. In addition, many of them serve on sub-committees of the Board, which look at specific areas of operation or issues of interest.

Download Spinal Cord Injuries Australia's Charter of Board Operations

Joan Hume - President*

Joan Hume

Joan’s long standing commitment to and involvement in disability and community activism was interrupted in 2000 with a diagnosis of leukaemia from which she is now in remission.  A further bout of cancer in 2008 compounded her withdrawal from public activities until recovery.

Joan decided to stand for the board of Spinal Cord Injuries again because she believes she can still make a valuable contribution to the development of the organisation with which she had an association for 35 years.  Joan holds a B.A. Dip Ed., MA (English Literature), Sydney University and has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) awarded in 1982 for services to people with disabilities, the Australian Human Rights Awards 1991: Print Magazine Category – Highly Commended – A Portfolio of Writings promoting the rights of People with Disabilities and the Australian Achievement Award 1994 for Media Guidelines on using appropriate language about people with disabilities.

Joan has a passionate commitment to advocacy, the promotion of the rights and full participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of community life. Apart from the experience of  decades in both mainstream and disability education, Joan brings well-honed writing and policy development skills, familiarity with management and collaborative board participation expertise.

  Antony Varrall *

Director Since 2007

In 2006, Tony became an ambassador for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and joined the Board of SCIA towards the end of 2007.

Tony had just completed his first year of Industrial Arts High School Teaching when he had a motorcycle accident breaking his back at the T6 level in January 1979. He returned to full time High School Teaching at the start of 1980 which he enjoyed until he decided to retire at the start of 2005. Tony was a member of Kuringai Council’s Access Committee from 1997 to 2000.

Tony is proud to be involved with such a great organisation that is doing so much for the disabled in our community.

Tony is a member of the Finance and Audit Sub-Committee and the Board Development and Governance Sub-Committee.

Anna-Maria Arabia

Director Since 2012

Anna‑Maria wishes to use her advocacy, political, and research skills to influence policy outcomes and assist others reach their potential.

Anna‑Maria is currently Director of Policy to the Hon Bill Shorten MP, Leader of the Federal Opposition. She is a trained neuroscientist having undertaken her under graduate and post graduate training at the University of Melbourne, the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, and the Mario Negri Pharmacological Research Institute in Milan. Anna‑Maria was formerly General Manager of Questacon ‑ the National Science and Technology Centre.  She has held political advisory roles in both social and economic portfolios in federal government and opposition, has been in involved in policy development in the federal bureaucracy, and in efforts to foster international cooperation in the area of science and technology.

Anna‑Maria holds a personal commitment to social justice and equity and is committed to Spinal Cord Injuries Australia's mission.

Anna-Maria is a member of the CEO Liaison Sub-Committee.

Stewart Calderwood - Director

Stewart has corporate background in the finance sector with over 25 years experience in London and Australia.
He has client relationship management experience in a wide range of institutional and corporate clients. 

Stewart suffered a spinal injury in 1994, in a diving accident, was left temporarily paralysed and went through intensive therapy within a spinal unit which undoubtedly aided the recovery. Stewart subsequently became involved with the Back Up Trust, a UK charity assisting those paralysed through spinal cord injury to inspire independence and to encourage everyone to get the most from their lives. Stewart moved to Australia several years ago and wanted to be involved with a charity addressing the needs of people with spinal cord injury which is passionate about transforming lives. Stewart will use his corporate and financial back ground to bring the needs of the charity and its members to the awareness of the Corporate Sector.

Richard Klinger - Director*

Joined the Board from 1997 – 2005 then from 2007. Richard was the Chairman of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (AQA) from 1998 – 2001; and was Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (AQA) President from 1999 – 2000; and a member of the Community housing Advisory Committee from 2000 – 2001. He is a member of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia's Governance and Finance Sub-Committee and a past director and Chairman of Collaroy Rehabilitation Monitoring Service (CRMS).

Richard’s background is in the civil construction engineering field and his present occupation is Managing Director of equibuilt, a Building Services Company.

David O'Brien – Director*

David O'BrienJoined Spinal Cord Injuries Australia in 1984 and elected to the Board in 1996.  I have a Bachelor of Business Administration and have worked since 1983. I work for The Audit Office of NSW. My work involves using software to assist in documenting the auditing of government entities. It also requires working with the accounting & auditing standards which helps in my role as a member of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia's Governance and Finance Sub-Committee, (GAF). I became involved with Spinal Cord Injuries Australia after becoming a C5/6 quadriplegic as a result of a rugby union move called “The Flying Wedge” in 1977. Since then, I’ve deteriorated to a complete C4 quadriplegic which meant adjusting again to a new disability level using mouth sticks. I was 19 when I had my accident and I’m now 52.

Over the last 32 years there have been significant improvements, both medically and with technology, that have tremendous benefits for people who sustain a spinal injury. I’m determined to maintain the independence of the disabled and that they continue to be the primary source for anything that will affect them, especially the spinal injured. It’s crucial that well intentioned able bodied people do not make decisions on behalf of the disabled without their input. I look forward to a cure for spinal injuries in the near future and further technology developments and discoveries that will benefit the disabled. I feel the opportunities for the spinal injured will especially focus on education and employment which are so important to one’s quality of life and self esteem.

Brad O'Hara


Director Since 2010

Brad is passionate about helping in the community, having developed strategies and implemented community engagement programs at NRMA and acted as a volunteer for a number of charities and not for profits. He is also keen to explore new uses of communication and motoring technologies to further educate, engage and drive positive change in community attitudes towards people with spinal cord injury. Brad is a recipient of the Government of New South Wales medal for community service, a Member of the Institute of Automotive Mechanical Engineers and a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Brad is currently employed with The National Roads & Motorists Association and  is Head of Commercial for the Publishing and Entertainment business programs within the NRMA Group. Brad has over 20 years corporate experience with varying roles and responsibilities. His working life has exposed him to diverse community groups and this has helped him understand the unique challenges that these groups face and how corporates and the not for profit sector can work together successfully to deliver on common goals.

Brad uses his corporate knowledge and experience to strongly advocate for people with spinal cord injury so that they too can gain the independence and quality of life that others enjoy.

Brad is a member of the CEO Liaison Sub-Committee

 Dr Edward Watts – Director*

brad-oharaI become a quadriplegic (C5) at 16 years of age. I live with my wife Susan in Ryde, and work as a Senior Lecturer in the Applied Finance and Actuarial Studies department at Macquarie University. I have an interest in government policy and services which impact on the capacity of people with disabilities to have fulfilling lives. Further, I am very interested in technology and how it can be used to increase the independence of people with disabilities. I believe that SCIA has a vital role in assisting members to lead productive lives, and that the governance of SCIA is important to the organisation in fulfilling its role.

* Denotes a person with a disability

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