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





Antony Varrall - Director*

Joined in 2006. Tony had a motorcycle accident in January 1979, breaking his back leaving him with T5 complete paralysis. Fortunately, he had just completed his first year of teaching at Barrellan Central School to make him a fully qualified Industrial Arts high school teacher. After a year off recuperating, he recommenced teaching at Beacon Hill High School at the start of 1980. In 2002 Beacon Hill High School closed resulting in him moving to Freshwater Senior Campus where he continued full time teaching until he took medical retirement in 2005.

He married Anne in 1983 and subsequently had three boys, Michael, Christopher and Rowan. Tony was manager of his son’s soccer teams in 1994 and 2001. He coached Michael’s team in 1996 with the help of a 15 year old assistant and became club secretary in 1999, a position he held for a further 4 years. He completed the “City to Surf” in 1996 and 1997 without assistance. He was a member of Kuringai Council’s Access Committee from 2000 to 2003.

In 2006, he became an ambassador for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia. Towards the end of 2007, he joined the Board of SCIA and subsequently joined the Governance & Finance Sub-Committee and Member Issues Sub-Committee.

He says he is proud to be a Board member of such a great organisation that is doing so much for the disabled in our community.


David Brawn - Director

David BrawnI joined SCIA as a Director in 2006 and became Chairman in 2007. In addition to Board membership, I chair SCIA’s Board Development and Governance and CEO Liaison Sub-Committees. I hold a BSc in Physics and Maths from London University, an MSc in Business Studies from the London Business School and a Diploma (with Order of Merit) for the Australian Institute of Company Directors. I have worked in Xerox Corporation and Telstra and prior to my retirement from Telstra in 2004, I was CEO of a subsidiary called Telstra eBusiness Pty Ltd. I held executive roles in strategy, marketing and business management in these businesses.

I am also a Past District Governor for Rotary District 9750 a District that included 52 Rotary clubs situated in an area from Sydney Harbour in the north to Kiama in the south and out to Camden in the west. There were over 1500 members in the District.

I joined Spinal Cord Injuries Australia to help provide support for people with spinal cord injuries and, as part of this, to add more business expertise to the Board as it met new challenges to expand its activities profitably. I wholeheartedly support the Vision and the Mission of the organisation and expect to continue to support the CEO and his team in realising these.


Anna-Maria Arabia - Director

Anna-Maria 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 has held senior political advisory roles in both social and economic portfolios in federal government and opposition, has been in involved in senior policy development in the federal bureaucracy, and in efforts to foster international cooperation in the area of science and technology.Anna-Maria wishes to use her advocacy, political, and research skills to influence policy outcomes and assist others reach their potential.  

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



Joan Hume- Director*

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.


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 - Chairman

brad-oharaI joined the board of SCIA in 2010 with a personal mission to help the organisation grow its programs and services to meet the needs of its clients.

This has been realised by the diverse nature of program offerings and the growth in Membership which is attributed to good strategic planning and financial management. I look forward to the next growth phase the organisation is currently readying itself for.

I’m  currently employed by NRMA Motoring & Services and has worked for NRMA for 20 years in various roles from Automotive Technical, Sales and Marketing through to Corporate Affairs. Brad currently Heads up NRMA’s  recently launched Lifestyle & Entertainment programs.

I bring to the boardroom a diverse skill set that will help guide the organisation through a period of substantial change in how NFP’s deliver programs and services to their clients and to strongly advocate for people with spinal cord injury so that they too can gain the independence and quality of life that others enjoy. 

As the newly elected Chairman, I look forward to working closely with the Chief Executive Officer and my fellow Directors to continue to build on this organisations strengths in readiness for a “new world” in service provision and advocacy.


 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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