Latest news

Display # 


2016 ParaQuad NSW Scholarship Program

Scholarships of up to $5000 for people with a spinal cord injury are available now from ParaQuad NSW. The ParaQuad NSW Scholarship Program aims to support people with a spinal cord injury and like neurological disabilities to pursue educational and career training.

The scholarships:

  • Assist in providing funding to students who are studying at registered training organisations, eg. TAFE, universities and colleges 
  • Are aimed at easing the financial burden of obtaining the necessary education and skill to secure future employment 
  • Cover educational costs such as textbooks, course fees (up to $2,000), computer equipment, additional support 

Applications close on 12 February 2016. To be eligible, your completed scholarship application forms must be received at ParaQuad by that time.

Visit ParaQuad to view the guidelines and download the application form.

Email ParaQuad at for further information. Phone enquiries: (02) 8741 5669.


Wednesday, 25 November 2015


Joan Hume - disability work honoured

SCIA's President Joan Hume was recently honoured to receive a University of Sydney Alumni Award for Community Achievement for her advocacy work for people with disabilities and her tireless efforts to improve disability services across the country and internationally. Read about Joan in the Wentworth Courier here and on the University of Sydney website

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week News

The NRL is proud to be supporting Spinal Cord Injuries Australia's activities for this year's Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week 2015. The week will focus on what people with spinal cord injuries (SCI) can achieve and how the community at large can ensure society is inclusive and accessible for everyone, with a campaign titled Think I can't … Think again! Read the article here.

Heidi Haydon is an Education Officer for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and she hopes sharing her story during Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week will encourage people to get out and be involved in making the community they live in as inclusive and accessible as possible. Read about it here


Monday, 09 November 2015


Sing for SCI in the Illawarra Mercury

The fundraising event organised by Jae Haydon which raised over $10,000 for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia - Sing for spinal cord injury - has featured in the Illawarra Mercury.  Read the story here.

Monday, 09 November 2015


Art exhibition debuts at the SCIA Independence Expo

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia is excited to be incorporating an arts exhibition into the SCIA Independence Expo that will be held on Friday 15 April and Saturday 16 April 2016. The exhibition will feature talented artists, Daniel Savage, Sue Murray and Susan Wood.

Daniel Savage, Sue Murray's Imagine Me project and Susan Wood

L-R: Daniel Savage, Sue Murray's Imagine Me Project and artwork by Susan Wood

Susan Wood Susan is a self-taught painter and illustrator from the Blue Mountains, now living in Sydney, who has Neonatal Flaccid Paraplegia. Susan's art leans toward darker themes and geek and sci-fi genres. She has a wide range of inspirations from classical and metal music, pop culture and food. Susan is an experimental artist who tackles as many disciplines and genres as possible.

Daniel Savage is an artist with spinal cord injury who challenges societal attitudes toward people with disabilities through his work. Daniel graduated from the ANU School of Art with first class honours, and has exhibited in Australian and internationally. Daniel’s artistic skillset includes, photography, video and performance.  Daniel also plays wheelchair rugby for the NSW Gladiators.

Professional photographer and artist, Sue Murray is another talented individual that SCIA is pleased to have on-board for the upcoming arts exhibition. Through her Imagine Me project, Sue works with people living with spinal cord injury to create inventive and diverse artworks using digital photography. Sue will be exhibiting works from this project that strive to create a greater community understanding of people living with physical disabilities.

Register here to attend the SCIA Independence Expo or phone 1800 819 775.

Thursday, 05 November 2015


Thank you Sing for Spinal Cord Injury

During October Jae Haydon and other musicians recorded 31 songs in 31 days and raised a phenomenal amount for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA), over $10,000!

A big thank you to Heidi and Jae Haydon, The Stone Fruits, Billy Demos, Dominic Connor, The Real Supastar, Felice Mead and all those that took part. Listening to their songs has certainly brightened up October, check out some of the artists involved below or visit their Facebook page.

Conceived of by Jae Haydon, brother of SCIA Education Officer Heidi Haydon, this was the third year of Sing for Spinal Cord Injury and it was the biggest one yet!

We are all blown away by the support that these wonderful musicians have shown SCIA and want to thank them and all those who donated, your efforts will make a big difference to the lives of people with spinal cord injury. 

It is not too late to support this incredible fundraiser by making a donation.


Monday, 02 November 2015


NSW Rugby League and Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week

The New South Wales Wheelchair Rugby League (NSWWRL) competition starts this weekend - a week ahead of Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week (SCIAW) (8-15 November), a national campaign to create a more inclusive and accessible community for everyone. 

SCIAW is an initiative of the Australian Spinal Injury Alliance, which represents eight of the country’s largest spinal cord injury organisations, and is a national voice for all Australians who have sustained a spinal cord injury.

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, a member of the alliance, is a partner of the NRL Foundation which is providing support for injured rugby league players.

Please read the full article here. For information on Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week go to

Sunday, 01 November 2015


Congratulations Matthew Pierri

We are so excited for Matthew Pierri, one of our Exercise Services clients from Melbourne, who has been awarded the 2016 Victorian Rhodes Scholarship for postgraduate study at the University of Oxford.

Matthew completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Media and Communications and Chinese Language at the University of Melbourne with First Class Honours and is due to complete a Juris Doctor degree at the Melbourne Law School this year. He hopes to study a Master of Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. Matthew said he was thrilled to receive the scholarship, which will allow him to further his ambition to achieve social change at a systemic level. 

“Over the last few years, I have advocated to change the perception and treatment of people with spinal cord injuries and I strongly believe that progressive and practical public policy is needed to address increasingly complex and multi-faceted social problems,” Matthew said.

“By encouraging a positive, open-minded approach to disability, I believe we can remove the common, conservative misconceptions of the achievable quality of life for those living with disabilities and permit people to reach their full potential.”

“At Oxford, I hope to gain the interdisciplinary problem-solving and policy implementation tools to become a leading strategic thinker within the public sector.”

Jessica Hansson is the Team Leader of our Exercise Services in Melbourne, she says, "Matt continues to inspire both staff and clients with his achievements and can-do attitude. Between all his final exams and interviews, he is also organising a fundraiser to help to help another person with spinal cord injury attend SCIA's Exercise Services. We are all so proud of him and wish him the best of luck at Oxford." 

Read more about Matthew's scholarship here.

Matt Pierri

Matt Pierri

Friday, 30 October 2015


Think I can’t - think again!

Showing at Canberra Contemporary Art Space earlier this year, Print by Numbers was an exhibition of 16 life-size portraits of people of different genders, races, abilities, ages and body types. The distorted images challenged gallery-goers to think about how and why we perceive people in different ways.

The creator of the exhibition was Daniel Savage, artist and volunteer for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA). His thought-provoking, artistic critiques on society’s attitudes are not only reflected in his artwork but also in his artwork’s accessibility. Physical access, braille, large print, audio descriptions, touch tours and sign interpretations were integrated into the exhibition so anyone could come along and enjoy the installations without worrying about making prior arrangements before they showed up.

Having parallels with Daniel’s work, Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week (8 to 15 November 2015) will challenge the way Australians think about what social inclusion and accessibility mean for people with disability with its ‘Think I can’t; Think again’ campaign.

About 12,000 people in Australia have a spinal cord injury and they don’t want other people’s perceptions stopping them from having choice and control over their lives.

"Regardless of where people are going, they should be able to turn up without making special arrangements beforehand,” Daniel says. “At my local theatre they have to pull out five seats for me to attend. Why does it have to be a big deal to go out?”

The ‘special treatment’ doesn’t stop with physical access. “In shops and bars the salesperson talks to the person I’m with, rather than to me,” says Heidz Haydon, Education Officer, SCIA. “I look different—maybe that’s challenging for some people, but I don’t judge.”

Heidz says creating more inclusiveness shouldn’t be hard. Take travel, for example. “I have rung and double-checked to get an accessible hotel room. But then they change it to a non-accessible one at the last minute without telling me. What do they think is going to happen? That somehow it won’t make a difference. It doesn’t cost much to put a system in place to ensure this doesn’t occur.”

The same applies to the humble weekend outing. “It should never have been a problem for us to get on the ice rink at Cool Yule in Darling Harbour in Sydney,” Heidz says. “First the organisers couldn’t find a ramp for us to get on the ice, but when they did we had to get on there on our own without other ice skaters—we felt like the ‘special people’ who got to play. The organisers said it was too dangerous for people to be in chairs on the ice at the same time as the skaters. But then they changed their minds and let everyone on together.”

Even without chairs, ice skating can be dangerous, so why the big deal about the chairs? And, Heidz says, it only costs about $100 for a portable ramp, which can be kept on hand anywhere.

Daniel wants to see more thought put into implementing universal access rather than talking about inclusion. “If the focus is on universal access it switches the [power] back to the people with disability,” he says. “That’s because they don’t have to call some authority to ask special permission to make special arrangements before wanting to go somewhere—they just show up when they want to.”

He also wants to do away with the “day for disability” that some establishments hold: “It’s very frustrating being told you can access something only on a specific day or in a specific way and it just reinforces the negative view of people with disabilities as being this ‘other’, separate group.”

Other people also need to think about how they approach someone with a disability when they’re out. “I don’t need people to get excited when they see me out at night,” Daniel says. “The expectations are so low—‘Look, how special, he’s at the pub.’

“I get that it’s a lack of understanding and I tend to keep calm when I respond. It’s my friends who get more frustrated by those types of comments … but, in any case, it’s not my responsibility to be nice and explain my situation every time.”

That said, Daniel is not backward in coming forward when he’s out, pointing out things that need changing in establishments, such as bathrooms and access.

“If you have an accessible entrance for people with disability, make sure it’s not blocked with boxes and rubbish,” he says. “Better still, have an entrance that everyone comes through together.”

Nevertheless, under the Disability Discrimination Act, access doesn’t have to be provided if it causes unjustifiable hardship.

Daniel says it’s understandable that older buildings may be too difficult to redesign. But he thinks people and organisations that use this ‘loophole’ are under a misapprehension. By refusing to make changes it’s not just the person with the disability who misses out. There’s an economic benefit to making things more accessible, as a more diverse crowd of people is able to come and spend money, he adds.

If worst comes to worst, Daniel makes his feelings known by taking his work and services elsewhere. “I won’t show my [art] work in galleries that aren’t universally accessible,” he says.

Heidz says when she rolls up a ramp to a shop or other establishment and then can’t get in the door or through the place, she feels like yelling out, “Do you want my money or don’t you?”

A frequent nightclub-goer, she says some clubs are old, unrenovated and frequently at the top of stairs. “If I have to get carried up a flight of stairs, well, so be it,” she says. “Until they make changes, why should I and others miss out?

“[We] just want to go out like everyone else and not make a big thing about it, but most people don’t get it,” she says. “However, I don’t let that stop me doing my bit to advocate for change. I’m the same as everyone else, I’m just sitting down.”

For more on Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week, visit You can check out Daniel's art at the SCIA Independence Expo, where he will exhibit some of his work, register here.

To support Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week please share the images below on social media:


Daniel Savage

Thursday, 29 October 2015


PME Auto Conversions comes on-board as Diamond Sponsor

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) is excited to announce that PME Auto Conversions have come on-board as the Diamond sponsor of the SCIA Independence Expo. It is fantastic to be in partnership with a company run by and for people with disability, and a business that enhances the confidence, freedom and independence of people with disability through driving and transport options. 

"After becoming paraplegic myself I founded PME Auto Conversions in 1989 to revolutionise the driving experience for all people with a disability – both drivers and passengers. Our experience in the vehicle modification and conversion industry for over two decades now has seen us become the best in the business - our quality, workmanship and reputation for excellence is unmatched," says company founder Bill Georgas. 

Over the years PME Auto Conversions has facilitated conversions for people with some of the most restrictive disabilities, giving them the opportunity to regain confidence, freedom and independence back through driving. Bill has done many custom conversions, including dune buggies, agricultural equipment, boats, caravans, motorcycles, light air-craft, a wheelchair-accessible expedition vehicle - nothing is out of reach for his team.

"Physical limitations vary enormously, requiring solutions from a wide range of variables. We offer driving controls to cater for all types of disabilities which can be actuated by either feet, arms or hands, as well as seating modifications including driving directly from your wheelchair," says Bill. 

At the SCIA Independence Expo PME Auto Conversions will be showcasing the latest technologies from overseas in driving control configurations from PARAVAN (Germany), who manufacture the zero-effort, electronic mobility control systems, Spacedrive®, recognised as the safest in the world, as well as quality products from Guidosimplex (Italy) and Rashtronics (Israel). Plus PME’s own range of innovative driving aids that are now also exported internationally.

Bill will also be exhibiting his own labour of love, his fully accessible expedition vehicle. An impressive sight to behold and explore, Bill has been working on his expedition vehicle for over five years. "For me it is the ultimate in freedom and independence, being able to travel anywhere in an accessible vehicle. I am excited to show it to people at the SCIA Independence Expo and encourage everyone to understand that life isn't about what you can't do. As we've found over the years, there is always a solution to help you achieve your goals and dreams."   

Register here to attend the SCIA Independence Expo today or phone 1800 819 775.

Bill's accessible expedition vehicle:

Bill gets to work on his vehicle

The project gets started, there's lots of weekend work going on.

Bill's vehicle with accessible features

An exciting stage! All externals and mechanicals are completed, along with quad bike carrier and extra accommodation on the roof.


Bill's vehicle is finished after 5 year of hard work

Five years in the making and it will go practically anywhere - along the beach, up sand dunes, across the Australian outback and more. Plus it is fully self-sufficient for up to two weeks. 


Register here to attend the SCIA Independence Expo today or phone 1800 819 775.

Monday, 26 October 2015


SCIA President Joan Hume receives Alumni Award from University of Sydney

Joan HumeSpinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) President, Ms Joan Hume OAM, has received the Alumni Award for Community Achievement from the University of Sydney. Joan receives this award for her advocacy work for people with disabilities and her tireless efforts to improve disability services across the country and internationally. Completing her Diploma of Education and Bachelor of Arts in 1969, Joan became an English and History high school teacher with the NSW Department of Education, before she sustained quadriplegia in a car accident in 1971. After a year of recovery in hospital, Joan attempted to return to teaching, only to be told there was no future for her in the state school system. Fortunately, she was offered a teaching role at another public high school and became the state’s first classroom teacher who used a wheelchair.

“Back in the early ’70s there were no home and personal care services available to younger people with disabilities,” she says. “There were no accessible cinemas or theatres, sporting or recreational venues, public transport, parking and very few employment opportunities. Universities, post-secondary training colleges and other forms of higher education actively discouraged enrolment of students with disabilities.” Recognising the need for change, Joan became the editor of the Australian Quadriplegic Association’s new magazine, the Quad Wrangle (now SCIA’s Accord magazine), in 1977 while continuing with her teaching work. Editing the magazine brought her into contact with other people in similar situations and spurred her to engage more fully with disability issues.

This was just the start of Joan’s long career and achievements in advocating for people with disability, read more here

Wednesday, 14 October 2015


Jessica Hansson wins national alumni award

Jessica Hansson, Spinal Cord Injuries Australia’s Team Leader of Exercise Services in Melbourne (pictured above), is the inaugural Young Alumnus of the Year at the Australian Catholic University (ACU). 

Jessica Hansson

ACU launched the Outstanding Alumni Awards this year to highlight the contribution that their alumni make in the community.

Jessica has a Bachelor of Exercise Science and a Masters of Applied Exercise Science (Exercise Prescription) from ACU. 

Her interest in working with clients with traumatic injuries began while completing her master’s degree. As part of the degree, she co-authored the research project, ‘Feasibility of ballistic strengthening exercises in neurologic rehabilitation’, which was published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation in 2014. 

She continues to pursue her passion of working with people with spinal cord injury and is committed to growing her expertise and experience in exercise physiology.

Jessica is also Lecturer in charge of Neurological Analysis, Prescription and Rehabilitation at ACU’s Melbourne campus and a co-author of Outcome Measures for Exercise Physiologists, a publication of the accreditation body for Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA).

In 2013, Jessica also won the Exercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA) Practicum Supervisor of the Year award.

If you have a spinal cord injury or similar disability, you can check out the gym and do an initial assessment in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane or Melbourne. Email or phone 1800 819 775.

More information about Spinal Cord Injuries Australia's exercise services can be found here.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015


NSW Accessible Toilet Project in the News

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia is currently involved in a project updating the National Public Toilet Map. The map is a tool that can be used by people with disability to find an accessible toilet. The project was featured in ParaQuad NSW's Magazine recently, encouraging people to get involved and volunteer for the project. A $100 gift voucher is available to people who help out. Read more here.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015


Sing for Spinal Cord Injury on 702 ABC Sydney


SCIA Education Officer, Heidz Haydon, will be on 702 ABC Sydney on Saturday 10th October at 7.35am to chat about Sing For Spinal Cord Injury.

Listen on the radio or online and request a song by donating here.


Sing for spinal cord injury logo


Thursday, 08 October 2015


Abbey Van Capelle - exercise physiologist


Abbey Van Capelle is an exercise physiologist with SCIA’s exercise services, she spoke to UNSW Medicine about her work providing a range of exercise services for people with spinal cord injury and other neurological conditions.  

"The condition and need of patients can vary quite a bit, including spinal cord injury, stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy and many more. The exercise benefits for this population can range from (but are not limited to), gains in strength, coordination, balance and aerobic fitness; improvements in mobility and activities of daily living, improved cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological and metabolic function,” she said. Read more on the UNSW Medicine website.

If you have a spinal cord injury or similar disability, check out the gym and do an initial assessment in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane or Melbourne. Email or phone 1800 819 775.

Discover more about our exercise services.

Friday, 02 October 2015


Current Vacancies - Community Fundraising Collectors

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) is a leading social enterprise committed to ensuring ongoing empowerment and independence for people living with a spinal cord injury in the community.  We are passionate about continually improving our service offerings and driving innovation to provide maximum opportunity for those whose lives are affected by traumatic injury.

SCIA are looking for committed and outgoing individuals to join our team to collect donations and raise awareness for people whose lives are affected by traumatic injury.   

We are looking for candidates that are passionate about the cause and enjoy having conversations.

If you are interested in this opportunity please email your CV, to or contact Jenny on 02 8347 3005 for more information.

Successful candidates are required to complete pre-employment screening including a criminal background check.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015


Turning access nightmares into access wins

Making the most of a difficult situation can test anyone’s patience, however resolving it can make a huge difference for you and others in the future, making speaking up really worthwhile. SCIA’s policy and advocacy team can advise on ways to turn difficult situations into positive outcomes, and we encourage you to speak up and take the challenge when you can.

For instance SCIA clients had a difficult experience at the Cool Yule ice skating rink in Sydney. SCIA had been assured the rink was accessible at all times. Unfortunately it had not been communicated to ice rink staff that the SCIA group would be attending on that particular day and a ramp wasn’t available to get everyone on the ice.

SCIA clients had to sit and watch until a stranger came to the rescue with a portable ramp.  Ice rink staff eventually got everyone out on the ice in-between the usual sessions (despite a request that the SCIA group would like to skate with everybody else). Onlookers began clapping, making SCIA staff and clients felt like a spectacle when all they wanted was to enjoy a public event with everyone else. 

SCIA Peer Support Officer Heidz says, "In these situations you have to speak up for yourself at the time and follow up later with a complaint. I sent them an email outlining the issue, posted a comment to the event’s Facebook page and to disability access groups. Subsequently there was some media coverage, which I hope will encourage organisers of this and other events to consider people with disabilities in the future. Sometimes it’s as simple as having a portable ramp on hand to make venues and events accessible, without us having to be the centre of attention and fuss. The incident inspired me to encourage those who do offer good access by creating a Facebook group, the Disability Access Wall of Recognition.

Read more about the incident in this article Heidi wrote for Mamamia "We're humans. We're the same as everyone else. We're just sitting down".

Heidi and SCIA clients finally get out on the ice

Heidi and SCIA clients finally got out onto the ice

In another situation SCIA President, Joan Hume, and SCIA staff member, Tannia Smith, were at a Sydney leagues club for a work event when a blackout struck. Because the lifts weren’t working, Joan and Tannia asked club management to phone Fire and Rescue NSW to help them leave the venue safely via the stairs. The club manager was hesitant to call them in a situation he didn’t see as an emergency. A club staff member did finally call the service, who were happy to assist. 

Tannia says, "When you are blocked by someone who does not understand the seriousness of the situation, you can take charge if it’s possible and safe to do so. Because we know emergency services can assist in circumstances like this, if a club member hadn't eventually phoned Fire and Rescue NSW we would have done so ourselves. Sometimes you need to take into account that this might be the first time people have encountered a specific request related to disability and access, so a willingness to educate, promote disability awareness and be patient whilst remaining firm never goes astray.”

The fire brigade arrive to help Tannia and Joan  Fire brigade helps Tannia down the stairs

NSW Fire and Rescue Service arrive and were happy to assist Joan and Tannia out of the club

In some situations though, speaking up at the time doesn’t get results, so letting your frustrations known after the event in an even and objective manner can bring about significant change so the difficult or disappointing situation never happens again.

We recently had a group of SCIA exercise clients who were stopped from completing a Sydney fun run because they had taken longer than the allotted time to complete the race.

Alana runs our Sydney exercise clinic and was with clients during the race, she says, "it was extremely disappointing because our clients had been training for this event and they were in the process of achieving an amazing personal goal.  Thankfully the event manager responded positively to the complaint email I sent after the event. They will put practices in place next year so people with disability will be allowed to finish past the standard finishing time.

My advice is if something goes wrong and you don’t get the outcome you want on the day, make an official complaint afterwards direct to the event organisers. They may be in a position to implement change which ensures their event is inclusive to all."

The Walk On team before the race

The Walk On team before the race

If you need support in advocating on an issue you need resolved, please contact our policy and advocacy team here or come speak to us at the SCIA Independence Expo, register here for free

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


Important update: NDIS gets moving in NSW, VIC and QLD

The NSW and Victorian Governments have released their NDIS rollout plans, and early transition sites have been announced for Queensland in Townsville, Palm Island and Charter Towers. For more information on Queensland click here.

The NDIS rollout in Victoria

Information on the rollout in Victoria is available from the NDIS website and the Victorian Government's website

The NDIS rollout in NSW

The NSW Government has provided the following information, eligible people with disability will be able to start accessing supports under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) when it is rolled out across NSW between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2018:

  • From 1 July 2016, people living in Hunter New England, Southern NSW, Central Coast, Northern Sydney, South Western Sydney, Western Sydney and Nepean Blue Mountains will be able to access the NDIS. 
  • From 1 July 2017, the NDIS will be in place across the rest of NSW, and people living in Northern NSW, Mid North Coast, Sydney, South Eastern Sydney, Illawarra Shoalhaven, Murrumbidgee, Western NSW and Far West NSW will be able to access the NDIS. 

These locations reflect the current NSW disability and Health service districts. 

Until the NDIS becomes available in your area and you have an agreed NDIS support plan, your current disability supports and funding will remain in place.


Moving to the NDIS  

With so many people coming into the scheme in such a short time it is important that there is a planned approach to how they access the NDIS.

The majority of people currently receiving specialist disability supports will be able to access the NDIS in the first six months of each of the two year rollout periods, using a simplified access process. This includes people who might be living in supported accommodation, accessing a community access service such as a day program or case management service.

People who access specialist disability supports from time-to-time, or for a short amount of time each week will be able to access the NDIS throughout each of the two year rollout periods. People receiving respite services will go through a simplified access process. People receiving community care services will be supported to apply for access to the NDIS.

Please note, if you are aged 65 years and over, you are not eligible to access the NDIS. If you are aged 65 years and over, and you currently receive disability supports, you will not be disadvantaged. You will continue to receive supports that achieve similar outcomes to those you are currently receiving.

What do I need to do? 

You should start working with your family, carers and providers to think about your current supports, your goals for the future and your support needs.

Ask your current provider to make sure your information is up to date, ahead of planning discussions with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

Community information sessions will be held in your area before the NDIS starts. These sessions will give you more detail about what will happen and what you need to do next.

Next steps in the NSW roll out

As the NDIS rolls out in your area, you will be contacted to explain how you will be able to access the scheme.

You can find out more about the NDIS by visiting the new NSW NDIS website The website has information about the details of the NDIS rollout in NSW. 

For a useful guide to the rollout in NSW please click here.

More information about the NDIS

  • For FAQs about the NDIS compiled and answered by SCIA click here.  
  • SCIA will be holding an NDIS workshop at the SCIA Independence Expo 2016, click here to register at attend.
Monday, 21 September 2015


New minister for Social Services announced

Christian Porter

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has appointed Christian Porter as the new Minister for Social Services. Porter is a former WA State MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the PM. Mr Porter won the Federal seat of Pearce in WA at the 2013 election. Porter takes over from Scott Morrison who has been appointed Treasurer.

“He is a formidable lawyer with strong public finance experience. He has a strong record of managing large budgets and making service delivery much more efficient,” Turnbull said.

Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten said that he was pleased to see a greater emphasis on science and innovation by the Turnbull Government, however he was disappointed that the Prime Minister had not appointed a Minister for Disability.

He said given the progress of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the sector deserved its own ministry.

Click here to read more at Pro Bono Australia.

Click here for more on the NDIS

Monday, 21 September 2015


The SCIA Independence Expo is open for visitor registrations

The SCIA Independence Expo is back on 15 and 16 April 2016 for people with physical disability. Explore amazing products, equipment and technology on display. Be inspired by information packed demonstrations and workshops. Discover services to help you get what you want out of life. There will be travel, sport and art, plus entertainment and fun activities. It's free to attend - register today and you could win a $500 gift card.

Click here to read the article in Just Better Living about the Expo (page 30 - 31). 

Friday, 18 September 2015


Young Aussie becomes poster boy for spinal therapy

Claire Conroy spoke to the Northern District Times about her son Evander, who has been doing intensive locomotor treadmill training at the Frazier Rehab Institute, in Kentucky USA.

On the locomotor treadmill, people hold Evander's hips and legs, teaching his brain how to make them work.

Evander has also attended our Walk On program in Sydney, which will be opening an exercise clinic for kids and offering intensive locomotor training soon.   

Click here to read the article

Friday, 18 September 2015


Calling all creatives

We're looking for people with disability, or their family and friends, who make items to sell at the SCIA Independence Expo market. If you make things like jewellery, art, knitted items, jams and chutneys we want to hear from you! Holding a stall won't cost you anything and support will be available for people uncomfortable with selling. If you are interested please email or phone 1800 819 775.

Don't forget to register to attend the SCIA Independence Expo, on 15 - 16 April 2016 in Sydney, by clicking here.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015


Heidz Haydon on FBI

Heidz Haydon was on FBI Radio with Ash and Jo Wallace, talking about Humans of Newtown. Listen to the podcast by clicking here.

Heidi Haydon with Jo Wallace and Ash on FBI Radio

Friday, 04 September 2015


Become a Board Director of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia

Ever thought about serving on the Board of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA)? Now's your chance.

We are a not-for profit organisation working to realise our mission of a world without barriers for people living with spinal cord injuries. To achieve this, we aim to promote independence, dignity, full participation, equal opportunities and the rights for people with disabilities.

The Board is responsible for the governance  and performance of SCIA, making sure that these objectives remain the focus of management and that our funds are managed effectively. In brief, the management, led by the CEO rows and the Board steers. 

Every year, the organisation in conjunction with the Annual General Meeting (AGM), holds an election by the eligible voting members for new and returning Board Directors. This year (2015), three positions are available. These positions, all voluntary, are quarantined for people with spinal cord or similar disabilities. If you do not have a disability and wish to serve on the Board, you will have to wait until next year.

What skills and qualities are we looking for? A potential Board Director of SCIA must: 

  • Be a member of SCIA for at least three months before nomination
  • Understand the history, values and aims of the organisation
  • Have a demonstrated commitment to furthering the rights and interest of people with spinal cord injuries
  • Know and understand the principles of the relevant state and federal disability discrimination laws as well as the NSW Disability Services Act
  • Have a good working knowledge of the NDIS and its implications for SCIA service provision
  • Understand  the roles and responsibilities of a company director to comply with legal and financial duties
  • Be able to problem solve, seek strategic outside advice where appropriate and maintain confidentiality
  • Listen effectively and maintain good relationships with Board and Staff members
  • Have a good working knowledge of SCIA's constitution and be able to suggest ways of improving and updating it as necessary
  • Promote a safe and healthy work place
  • Attend all board meetings, sub-committees AGMs and EGMs as required and be able to devote at least 10 hours a month to Board responsibilities
  • Understand policy and strategic planning processes
  • Like Chinese food and have a sense of humour

If you feel you have most of these skills, have the time and interest, we welcome you to nominate for the Board for the next elections. 

Nomination Process

Nominations will open the 28 September. Nomination forms will be posted to SCIA members, completed nomination forms need to be signed by two voting members, and by the nominee.

Nominees need to supply a short statement (up to 200 words) in support of their nomination.

For more information please phone 1800 819 775 or email

Wednesday, 02 September 2015


Have your say on the NSW Health Disability Inclusion Action Plan

NSW Health believes people with disability have the same rights to choose the way to live their lives, to access the same opportunities and to enjoy the same benefits of living and working in our society.  They are committed to ensuring NSW Health services are accessible, which means disability inclusion is a top priority.  In line with this commitment, they are currently developing a Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2016-19.

In September there will be an opportunity for people with disability in NSW to tell NSW Health what would create real improvements for them in using the health system, and provide input to the NSW Health Disability Inclusion Action Plan. If you are a person with disability, a family member or carer of a person with disability, we invite you to register to take part in the consultations by visiting

Register now to your say on the NSW Health Disability Inclusion Action Plan at

Friday, 28 August 2015


Have you experienced problems accessing help with your bowel care routine?

A study exploring the problems people with spinal cord injury experience when accessing help with their usual bowel care routine is being conducted by a team of researchers at Royal Rehab.

If you, or someone you know of, lives in NSW and has experienced problems accessing help to complete bowel care, you are invited to participate in the study. Participants will be interviewed about problems encountered accessing help with bowel care outside a specialist spinal service. This might have been in another type of hospital ward or service, in a community service or in an aged care service. The interview will last about 15-30 minutes. Most interviews will be conducted over the phone. The study has been approved by the Northern Local Health District Human Research Ethics Committee (reference number LNR/15/HAWKE/177).

You can get involved in this study up until the end of December 2015. For more information about the study please contact the coordinating researcher, Associate Professor Julie Pryor, Nursing Research and Development Leader at Royal Rehab on or 02 9808 9223.

For more information about bowel care click here.

Thursday, 27 August 2015


"We're humans. We’re the same as everyone else. We're just sitting down."

SCIA Education Officer Heidi Haydon is getting the word out about access for people with disability. She writes on Mamamia about how simple it can be to make a venue or event accessible for people who use wheelchairs to get around.

Heidi Haydon"We totally understand that we may have to do things a bit differently, that's a given, But today, I am asking you - I'm asking everyone - to ensure that businesses, establishments and pop-up events can be enjoyed by all. It's easy to have a portable ramp. It's easy to highlight accessibility points on a website. Even though we accept that doing things on a whim may not be achievable, having to make many phone calls, send many emails and then finding out accessibility is not actually an option, can be very disappointing."

Click here to read the whole article.

Friday, 21 August 2015


On the map

Link Magazine has profiled Spinal Cord Injuries Australia's charge to improve access to public toilets for people with disability by updating the National Public Toilet Map

The map is a website and app that provides locations and information on over 16,000 publicly available toilets across Australia. It is designed to reduce the stress people face when they cannot find an accessible toilet and to ensure that people with disability and other mobility restrictions can be confident in getting out and enjoying their lives.

SCIA is asking people in the community to help assess toilets in their local area by becoming Volunteer Access Officers. The tools and forms to assess toilets are provided and $100 gift vouchers are available to eligible volunteers as a thank you.

For information contact Kelly McCann email or phone on 0412 177 643.

Click here to read the article.

Project logo

Thursday, 13 August 2015


Humans of Newtown: Heidi Haydon

The residents of one of Australia’s top eccentric suburbs have become the focus of a new book after taking social media by storm. Among those happy to share their story was Heidi Haydon, an SCIA Education Officer in our Peer Support team who sustained T4 complete paraplegia after a motorbike accident in December 2009. Heidi Haydon

She shared her struggle to overcome anger and the stigma associated with disabled people with the Humans of Newtown community. 

“People tend to see my chair first, then the tattoos, then the hair and last of all they see my personality. I don't want people to be awkward with people with a disability…we may look and do things a little differently, but we are all the same.” 

“I felt sharing my story would break the barriers for people with disability,” she said. 

Heidi says she was overwhelmed by the support she received on social media when her story was shared. “I am not an emotional person, but to have that feedback from people I've never met or seen before touched my heart and was very moving.”

Click here to read more on Yahoo7 News.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015


Research into Facilitated Sex and Disability

You are invited to participate in a research project conducted by researchers from Deakin University that aims to provide information that will help to have a better understanding of the need for facilitated sex support in the lives of adults with disability (AWD). Some AWD may need assistance from their paid carers or support workers in order to express themselves sexually or participate in sexual activities (this is called facilitated sex). There is very little research on this issue. Currently in Australia, the need for this kind of help is ignored by disability services and those who make policy.

In order to be eligible to participate in the research you would need to:

  • be an adult with a disability age 18-65
  • be restricted in one or more of the following: mobility, arm movement, hand manipulation and/or ability to communicate
  • use the services of a carer or support worker to assist you in everyday care/tasks
  • reside in Victoria

For more information about the project visit the project website.

Friday, 31 July 2015


Willing to work

Willing to Work

The Australian Human Rights Commission is holding a national inquiry called Willing to Work: National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability. They will examine practices, attitudes and laws and makes recommendations to address employment discrimination. You can make your thoughts and experiences known through submissions, consultation and roundtables.

“Willing to Work is most timely as employment rates for both older people and those with disability remain unacceptably low,” said Age and Disability Commissioner, Susan Ryan.

“We all lose when willing people are excluded from workforce. Research by Deloitte shows that increasing the older workforce by 5 per cent would bring an extra $48 billion annually to Australia’s GDP,” she said.

The submissions period is open until Friday 4 December 2015. To make a submission please click here.

Consultations are being conducted in every capital city and regional centres from July to November 2015. Click here for a list of consultation locations and dates. 

Thursday, 30 July 2015


The Voice, and the body: contesting with disability on reality TV

By Kate Ellis, Senior Research Fellow in Internet Studies at Curtin University

Originally published on The Conversation Logo

Tim McCallum on The Voice

I got chills when I watched Tim McCallum’s “blind audition” for The Voice Australia, which aired on Monday night. He sang the Italian aria, Giacomo Puccini’s Nessun Dorma (1920-1924). It wasn’t just his voice that got me. His descent to the stage, in a wheelchair, just before he began singing, and then the moment he started to sing, were all expertly staged to elicit maximum emotion.

This was his moment, and he was amazing.

The internet agrees: he’s incredible; people got passionate; he wowed Australia.

But will McCallum’s appearance on The Voice Australia continue reality television’s new approach to disability or will it fall back on patronising discourses?

McCallum joins a number of other reality-television contestants who have a disability, appearing on a diverse array of reality programs, including SurvivorThe Amazing RaceAmerica’s Next Top ModelAmerican IdolMasterchefThe Biggest Loser and Big Brother.

Dancing with the Stars has also featured a number of celebrities with disabilities, from entrepreneur Heather Mills to actor Marlee Matlin, from Paralympians Amy Purdee and Gerard Goosens to army veteran Noah Galloway.

When John Hughes appeared on Masterchef in 2011, his storyline was criticised on ABC as doing little “to encourage social inclusiveness and honest engagement with issues of marginalisation”. Rather than accept the extra time a person with cerebral palsy would need to compete on an even level with people without any dexterity impairments in a cooking competition, Hughes was celebrated for serving up an empty plate.

Women’s studies professor Natalie Wilson argued in a 2008 essay that disabled bodies are strategically placed on reality TV to elicit an emotional response from the audience and thus improve ratings.

Often competitors engage in the requisite discourse that they do not want to be seen as the disabled competitor, and then the judges proceed to construct them as exactly that. When Emmanuel Kelly, a refugee with vision impairment competed in Australia’s Got Talent in 2011, the judges focused only on his back story, rather than talent.

Of course, the focus on a back story – often about hard work, determination and missed opportunities – is a staple of reality genres whether contestants are disabled or not. But disability critics dislike such representations of people with disabilities because they happen across the board in all genres, not just reality TV. As the late disability advocate Stella Young commented in her criticism of the judges' treatment of Emmanuel Kelly on The X Factor, in 2011: "So prevalent are the terrible, tragic, patronising representations that I've come to expect them. I could count on one hand the times I've seen a straight-up, honest, bullshit-free representation of a disabled person on Australian television."

In May last year, I criticised The Voice Australia’s inaugural season in an essay for the show’s treatment of a vision-impaired contestant, Rachael Leahcar. I argued that, by constructing her as sweet, angelic and childlike, the producers invoked discourses of disability that are proven to attract audiences.

What do audiences with disabilities think?

In an attempt to address the lack of academic attention to television accessibility and disability representation I conducted an online survey of Australian television audiences with a disability in 2013. Some 341 people with disability responded to an email invitation sent to disability organisations in Australia, tertiary disability officers, and social media groups. The majority of respondents were aged between 22 and 34 and had a mobility impairment. One third were male and two thirds female.

I asked respondents to rank television genres on how stigmatising or empowering they were. With the exception of documentary, sport and children’s television, every television genre was considered more “stigmatising” than “empowering”. Reality television, although judged to be more stigmatising than empowering, was not viewed as a particularly bad offender by the respondents.

When asked how well The Voice specifically was “reflecting the lives of people with disabilities”, opinions were divided. One third believed the program “never approached” the topic, despite Rachael Leahcar appearing in the top four contestants in 2012, the year prior to the survey. A further third said The Voice reflected the lives of people with disabilities well to very well, while the final third ranked The Voice’s reflection badly to very badly.

Does Reality TV offer the potential for more diverse representations? 

Despite its tendency towards emotional manipulation, reality television may educate people that have little experience with disability, through both incidentalist and non-incidentalist strategies of representation. Such was the argument of the 2012 Christopher Newell Prize for Telecommunications and Disability winners Floris Müller, Marlies Klijn and Lisbet Van Zoonen in their essay Disability, Prejudice and Reality TV (2012).

As Stella Young argued in 2012, society disables people with impairments when environments are not adaptive to the different physical needs people have. In her own home and in places where she was able to “create an environment” that worked for her she said she was “hardly disabled at all”.

People create their own environments using assisting technologies and alternative communication practices. In 2012, Christine Ha was the first blind contestant on MasterChef, globally. She won that third US season and was often depicted using assistive technologies such as talking thermometers and kitchen scales.

Similarly, Justin LeBlanc, a contestant with hearing impairment who competed in Season 12 of Project Runway early this year, was provided accommodations including an interpreter. He was also depicted teaching other contestants basic signing during a bonding exercise.

Such representations and the strategy to include incidentalist representations of disability have been described as examples of “naive integration” which do little to actually challenge prejudice against people with disability. And in the quest for ratings, incidentalist representations are all too easily turned into triumphs over adversaries, which the ABC’s Leena Rottman convincingly argued, “feeds the idea that those who haven’t ‘made it’ are lacking in talent, or simply lazy”.

Yet these incidentalist and non-incidentalist images of disability on television increasingly show the different ways people with impairments navigate the world.
Although McCallum, on Tuesday night’s episode of The Voice, chose Latin singer Ricky Martin to be his mentor, pop rock duo The Madden Brothers claim that McCallum did not need any help with his singing, suggesting instead they would be able to help with performance and marketing, which was a refreshing representation of disability in the reality-television format.

While it is too soon to say which way The Voice, Ricky Martin and McCallum take this journey, there is great opportunity for this show to embrace new directions in disability and reality TV that potentially advance social understandings of disability by showing the alternative, but equally effective, ways people with disability navigate the world.

You can borrow Kate Ellis' book Disability and Popular Culture: Focusing Passion, Creating Community and Expressing Defiance from our library.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015


780 toilets and counting

Thanks to our volunteer Access Officers, 780 toilets have been assessed for the SCIA project to update accessible toilets in NSW on the National Public Toilet Map.

accessible toiletStaff at Slater and Gordon got involved and have assessed more than 190 toilets. "It's easy to get involved, even my kids had a go. You simply fill in the form and take a photo, and as a result help reduce the stress felt by people with disability when they need an accessible toilet whilst out and about," says star volunteer, Maria from Slater and Gordon Liverpool office. 

toiletOur volunteers have come across some great accessible toilets for the map. This toilet at the Des Renford Leisure Centre in Maroubra (pictured above) is excellent and includes a change table and a hoist. We've had some funny photos come through as well, this snap (left) made us chuckle. 

The National Public Toilet Map is a great tool that can be used by people with disability to find an accessible toilet. It provides the location of over 16,000 public toilets across Australia, reduces the stress of not being able to find an accessible toilet, and provides choice, freedom and independence for people to get out and enjoy their lives.

How you can help - The project has been extended to July 2016, and we need volunteers to help update the map with accessible toilets across NSW. As an Access Officer you will choose a local area that suits you and assess public toilets using the form provided.

$100 Gift Voucher - As thanks we're giving our volunteer Access Officers a $100 gift voucher (certain criteria must be met).

Join this fantastic project today - Volunteer as an Access Officer by contacting the Project Manager Kelly McCann on 0412 177 643 or email

Learn more about the project here.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015


PossABLE IDEAS Expo - 24 and 25 July

The PossABLE IDEAS Expo is coming to the Penrith Panthers on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 July. Spinal Cord Injuries Australia will be there, come see us at stand #63.

People with disability, mums, dads, families and friends are invited to this great opportunity to learn about the NDIS and disability services available in the region. This event will display choice, supports, services, planning, and information. The event focuses on the early rollout of the NDIS in the Nepean Blue Mountains for people 0-17 years of age, but any person with disability and their families should come and get a head start.  

What: PossABLE IDEAS Expo

When: Friday 24 and Saturday 25 July

Where: Panthers Penrith, Exhibition Marquee

Cost: Free

More information and registration:

Monday, 20 July 2015


Sydney paraplegic woman ’humiliated’ by lack of disability access at Darling Harbour

Heidz Haydon is an Education Officer with Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) and part of her job involves organising social events for members and their family and friends. A visit to Cool Yule in Darling Harbour to go ice skating last weekend turned out to be less than satisfactory. A ramp which the organisers had assured Heidz was available was nowhere to be seen and if it wasn't for someone kindly lending the group their own portable ramp, getting on to the ice would have proved impossible. Heidz spoke to about accessibility and how important it is for people who use wheelchairs.

Friday, 17 July 2015


Tribute to Ed Watts

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia farewelled our Chairman Ed Watts, who passed away in July. Ed was a senior lecturer in Applied Finance and Actuarial Studies at Macquarie University. He joined our Board of Directors in 2013, and become Chairman in 2014. Ed had a great interest in how government policy, services and technology can assist people with disabilities to lead fulfilling and independent lives. Our deepest condolences go out to Ed's family, friends and colleagues at this sad time.

You can read more about Ed's life, and a tribute form his friend Geoff Nilon, in The Daily Examiner. You can also leave your own tribute to Ed by clicking here.

Friday, 17 July 2015


Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and NRL partnership

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia's partnership with National Rugby League (NRL) has featured in the media recently, with the news that the NRL launched its whole of game Foundation to provide assistance to players who sustain catastrophic injuries. 

CEO Dave Smith said the NRL wants to provide support for players who suffer catastrophic injuries playing rugby league.

The NRL already has in place an insurance scheme which provides compensation of up to $1 million to NRL players who suffer severe injuries.

Mr Smith said the Foundation has been established to provide immediate support in addition to insurance to assist with interim medical bills and other expenses.

It would also provide one-off funding when the injury occurs to help meet the initial medical costs and travel and accommodation for family members so they can be near the injured player.

The NRL has formed a partnership with Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, which involves creating the best strategies to help injured players and their families following a catastrophic injury. The NRL and Spinal Cord Injuries Australia will also jointly fund research initiatives aimed at assisting injured footballers.

You can read more here:


Daily Telegraph

Sydney Morning Herald

The Chronicle



Wednesday, 15 July 2015


Systematic review published in the journal Spinal Cord

Vanessa Bochkezanian and Camilla Quel de Oliveira, staff members from Spinal Cord Injuries Australia's Exercise Programs, have published a paper in the journal Spinal Cord. The systematic review highlights the effectiveness of a combination of aerobic training and muscle strength training in improving aerobic fitness, muscle strength, functional capacity and quality of life. Camila and Vanesa are both conducting PhD research with Spinal Cord Injuries Australia about the effects of activity based therapy for people with spinal cord injury with the University of Sydney and Edith Cowan University (ECU) respectively. ‬Click here to read the abstract. 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


Aspiring writers with a disability wanted

Torrid Films​ are looking for people with a disability who have a sharp sense of humour, strong opinions and who'd like the opportunity to develop professional writing skills. Applications are open to Sydney-based, emerging or aspiring writers who identify as having a disability to help develop and write a short form comedy series called THE COMMITTEE.

The workshops will be modelled on the operation of a writers’ room or script department on a current TV show. The writing team will map out characters and story beats for each episode. The mentors running the project are Peter Neale, a television scriptwriter, script editor and teacher for over 25 years, and Zoë Harvey, an independent filmmaker with more than 20 years in the industry.  

For more information about applying click here.

Wednesday, 08 July 2015


Exhibit for disability rights open at M.A.D.E

An exhibition exploring campaigning for disability rights Grassroots Democracy: The Campaign for Disability Rights recently launched at the Museum of Australian Democracy at EurekaExploring the deinstitutionalisation of the 1970s, the right-based activism of the 70s and 80s and the recent introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the retrospective show was exhibited both in the museum and online. President of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, Joan Hume, was included in the exhibition and on the Honour Board for the Campaign for Disability Rights, launched in conjunction with the exhibition. 

Joan Hume at the exhibition

Joan says in the exhibition, “Both the message and the methods of the disability rights movement were revolutionary in not only challenging and overturning the misconceptions and low expectations of society at large but, for the first time in history, people with disabilities united, took their grievances to the street, took charge of their own lives and demanded to be their own spokespeople.”  

To grow the honour board the museum is asking people to nominate those who have made a major contribution to disability rights movement. Nominations can include people with disability or those who have encouraged people with disability to find their own voices and advocate for their rights. Click here to take a look at the exhibition and nominate people to be added to the honour board.

You can read more about the exhibition in The Courier. 

Tuesday, 07 July 2015


Stories and talents shared with Australia

It was a big weekend for people with spinal cord injury sharing their stories and talents with Australia.

Well done to Tim McCallum who sang Nessun Dorma (an aria by Puccini) on The Voice and has progressed through to join Team Ricky, and to Alex McKinnon who shared his story with Australia​ on 60 Minutes.

You can re-watch both segments by visiting:

Tim McCallum - 9Jumpin

Alex McKinnon - 9Jumpin

Monday, 06 July 2015


Review of the National Disability Advocacy Framework

The Australian Government is asking people with disability, their family, friends and advocates to participate in a review of the National Disability Advocacy Framework. Spinal Cord Injuries Australia encourages everyone to make a submission, no matter how large or small, to ensure there is adequate funding for advocacy services in the future. Make a submission at before 24 July 2015.

This media release from Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services, was released on 19 June 2015:

Advocacy review to empower people with disability

The Australian Government today encouraged people with disability, their family, friends and advocates to participate in a review of the National Disability Advocacy Framework.

The National Disability Advocacy Framework provides a structure for governments to work within to enable and support people with disability to protect their rights and overcome barriers.

Commonwealth, State and Territory Disability Ministers endorsed the current Framework in 2012.

The review will ensure the Framework remains relevant in a changing disability environment, including the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The Department of Social Services is leading the review on behalf of state and territory governments, and in consultation with advocacy agencies and other key stakeholders.

I encourage people with disability, their families and friends to read the advocacy discussion paper and share their views on the current framework.

Feedback from the review, together with insights from recent NDIS consultations, will be used to develop the new Framework.

Governments will use the Framework to promote greater consistency across advocacy programmes and ensure the rights of people with disability are upheld.

It will also help to describe how advocacy will be provided in the NDIS environment.

The new Framework will be presented to the Disability Reform Council in December 2015 and will be released to the public in early 2016.

To have your say, make a submission at before 24 July 2015.

Monday, 22 June 2015


Invitation for Tender for Care and Nursing Assistance

SCIA delivers many services to people with spinal cord injury and other physical disabilities. In order to support our staff and clients, SCIA requires support from third party providers such as registered care providers.

The individual support services are required for:

  • SCIA Staff
  • ANZAC House
  • Chatswood House
  • Occasional and Emergency Service

Please read the Invitation to Tender document for more details.
Interested parties are invited to submit a tender to:

Chris Nicholls
General Manager
Head of Operations
1 Jennifer Street, Little Bay, NSW, 2036
02 9661 8855

Any questions providers have prior to submitting their tender should be directed to: Claire Moylan or Maree Hunt:
02 9661 8855

Invitation to Tender | Tender Template

Wednesday, 17 June 2015


Heidz Haydon on Weekend Sunday 702 ABC Sydney

On Sunday 14 June just after 10am, Spinal Cord Injuries Australia Education Officer Heidz Haydon will be joining Graeme Innes AM (the former Disability Discrimination Commissioner) on Weekend Sunday with Simon Marnie on 702 ABC Sydney. 

They will be talking about living with a disability and the incredibly broad range of disability issues that occur today. Simon will be encouraging listeners to ring in with questions, so there should be some lively discussion to enjoy on your Sunday morning.

Tune into 702 ABC Sydney or click here to listen live online.

Friday, 12 June 2015


Mentoring for people with a disability

PACE Mentoring are looking for students or job seekers with a disability who want to learn from a mentor to develop skills and confidence around entering or re-entering the workforce.

Fantastic mentors from companies like Man extending hand to shakeANZ, IBM and CommBank are available to give advice, make introductions and open doors for people with a disability looking towards the world of work.

Students and job seekers with a disability have the opportunity to develop their skills and confidence in a workplace setting, which can help in planning for a career and help their personal and professional development.

Sometimes people with disability find themselves with little work experience or needing to alter their career path after an injury. Mentoring can help people recognise and fine tune the skills and attributes they have to offer an organisation as an employee. PACE Mentoring aims to assist people in becoming job-ready to reduce these hurdles.

If you are interested in this mentoring program please contact PACE Mentoring by clicking here. If you are interesting in getting back into work and finding a job, contact our employment service SCIA Workforce on  

Friday, 29 May 2015


Win a day off from work and support people with spinal cord injury

Big Day Off logo

The Big Day Off is a fantastic new concept to raise much needed funds and awareness for people with spinal cord injury. Getting involved is simple, businesses register on the Big Day Off website and donate a number of days off for their staff, who buy $5 raffle tickets through the site to win a Big Day Off - a day off work that's not taken out of their annual leave.

Learn more by clicking here, and take a look at some of the media coverage of this fun and unique fundraising initiative below: 

The Big Day Off has your back, The Border Mail 

Day off to help spinal victims like James McQuillan, The Border Mail

The Big Day Off, Prime7 News 

This guy, who suffered a tragic injury, wants to give people a day off work to raise money, Business Insider

Big Day Off for a big cause, The Border Mail

Take a Big Day Off and raise funds for SCIA, Freedom2Live

Monday, 25 May 2015


How to get more people with disability into employment

The Australian Government want to get more people with disability into jobs so that they, like other Australians, can enjoy the economic and social freedom of work.

Ben Lipski at work

A new taskforce has been established to review the entire disability employment system and develop a National Disability Employment Framework to boost employment rates for people with disability.

The taskforce is leading a national public consultation to understand what is and is not working currently and find ways to improve.

The Government want to hear from people with disability, their families and carers, service providers, employers and peak bodies to explore ways to improve employment for people with disability in Australia.

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia will be attending the public forums, if you'd like to give us your feedback to pass on please contact Stephen Lowe at or you can attend the public forums yourself or apply to make a submission, click here for more information. 

If you have a disability and want to get back into employment, contact our SCIA Workforce team on or 1800 819 775.

Public forums for people with a disability:

Melbourne - Monday 25 May, 2pm-4pm

Bendigo - Tuesday 26 May, 11am-1pm

Hobart - Thursday 28 May, 2:30pm-4:30pm

Brisbane - Monday 1 June, 2:30pm-4:30pm

Townsville - Wednesday 3 June, 2:30pm-4:30pm

Darwin - Tuesday 9 June, 2:30pm-4:30pm

Melbourne - Thursday 11 June, 1pm-2.30pm

Perth - Monday 15 June, 9am-11am

Adelaide - Wednesday 17 June, 9am-11am

Sydney - Tuesday 23 June, 2:30pm-4:30pm

Newcastle - Thursday 25 June, 2:30pm-4:30pm

Canberra - Monday 29 June, 2:30pm-4:30pm

Sydney - Tuesday 30 June, 9am - 10.30pm

Monday, 25 May 2015


Holograms deter people taking disability parking spots in Russia

In Russia, more than 30 percent of drivers ignore the designated signs for disability parking sports. This prompted a not-for-profit called to create a campaign and social experiment with Y&R (an advertising agency in Moscow) using holograms.

They set up special cameras in shopping center parking lots around Russia that detect official disability parking stickers on cars. If a car pulling into a disability parking spot was missing the sticker a hologram message started playing

“What are you doing?” asks the hologram of a man in a wheelchair, “I’m not just a sign on the ground! Don’t pretend that I don’t exist. Why are you surprised? This is a parking spot for the disabled.”

The hologram was projected over a thin layer of water mist, and was very effective at halting people in their tracks. Reactions from drivers ranged from embarrassment to curiosity. Some sped away, but others got out of their cars to take a closer look at the hologram, when that happened the hologram continued talking.

“Yes, I’m real. Please find another place to park.”

Read more and watch the video of the campaign by clicking here

More than a sign Dislife campaign

Tuesday, 12 May 2015


The Beach House to be refurbished

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia has received a very generous grant of over $27,000 from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, which will allow us to refurbish The Beach House in Coffs Harbour. The Beach House is an accessible holiday home for people with spinal cord injury and similar disabilities. Read all about the house, the grant and what we have planned in The Coffs Harbour Advocate. 

SCIA's Jim Wicks accepts the $27,000 cheque from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation

SCIA's Jim Wicks accepts the $27,000 cheque from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation

Monday, 11 May 2015


Review of the Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings) Standards 2010 (Premises Standards)

The Department of Industry and Science, in conjunction with the Attorney-General’s Department, is calling for submissions on the effectiveness of the Premises Standards in providing access to buildings for people with disability.

The Premises Standards, which came into effect on 1 May 2011, aim to provide people with disability with dignified and equitable access to buildings, and provide certainty to industry that they are complying with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).

Information sessions will be held in the capital cities and other locations from 27 April to 19 May.

For more information, to obtain the discussion papers and to make a submission go here.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


SCIA Member Survey 2015

Thank you to our members who took part in the first Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) Member Survey of 2015, helping us to understand their thoughts about our current services and their needs for the future.

It was heartening that over 83% of members who responded rated SCIA as being an excellent or above average organisation and it was very interesting to see what people want from SCIA in the future, such as occupational therapy and discounts on products.    

The responses were extremely valuable and were used at a recent SCIA planning meeting to set our strategic direction for the future under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

You can view the results of the survey by clicking here.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015


SCI Resources, Information and Library News

From the SCIA Library comes the April issue of SCI Resources, Information and Library News, featuring new magazines the library has received over the past month from sci and disability organisations around Australia plus a few from the US, Canada and the UK. Also featured are some articles from the academic journals that the library monitors on a regular basis and details of new resources that have recently been added to the library.

Monday, 20 April 2015


Saving Burn Rubber Burn

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia recently saved Burn Rubber Burn, a vital exercise program for people with disability, from closing down. The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, The Southern Courier, the Macarthur Chronicle and the Western Weekender have reported on how important the program has been for Brian Long, Ben Meoli, Trent Bell and Ken Mason and their relief that it will remain open.

The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader reports on how beneficial Burn Rubber Burn has been for people like Brain Long, who has been able to become more mobile after sustaining a spinal injury two years ago.Read the article by clicking here.

The Southern Courier encourages the local community to support Burn Rubber Burn by donating to keep the program open well into the future. Ben Meoli, born with paraplegia, uses the program to help manage his health, he says the program is "essential part of my life" and is working on loosing some more weight so he can get his drivers license. Read the article by clicking here.

The Macarthur Chronicle reports on the amazing improvement in Trent's strength and physical abilities since he was injured with quadriplegia.  “In hospital I was using a chin controlled power wheelchair because I had no strength in my arms. Since Burn Rubber Burn my strength has increased dramatically. Now I can control my wheelchair with my hand, adjust myself in the chair, turn lights on and off, eat by myself. For me and my family gaining that independence back has been life-changing,” says Trent. Read the article by clicking here.

In the Western Weekender Ken Mason speaks about how Burn Rubber Burn has helped him regain movement, strength and balance after a stroke. "It was very important to me that the program was saved... I rely on exercising in an accessible gym to keep my general health in check," says Ken. Read the article by clicking here.

You can help ensure Burn Rubber Burn stays open well into the future by clicking here to donate

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


Education Officer Heidz Haydon in the news

SCIA Education Officer Heidz Haydon has starred in an episode of ABC2's Tattoo Tales. Heidz wanted to get a tattoo for as long as she could remember, but it wasn’t until a motorbike accident left Photo of Heidi Haydon, SCIA Education Officerher with paraplegia that she decided to go ahead and get one. After seven months spent recovering from the accident Heidz decided to tell her story on her skin through a series of colourful and artistic tattoos. Click here to read more. The episode is available on iView until 29 April 2015, click here to watch.

You can also watch Heidz in the 7.30 Report’s Humans of Newtown photography blog story. “For me, Humans of Newtown was about removing the stigma that people in chairs are different than anybody else... we're all the same. I just happen to be sitting down.” Heidz says. Click here to watch.

Thursday, 02 April 2015


Real-life experiences from the NDIS trail sites

The next issue of Accord (Autumn 2015) will feature a story about the future of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and explores the real life experiences of people with disabilities in the NDIS trail sites.


Tabi Senda’s initial experience with the NDIS has been positive. She has been able to hire two support workers to help her achieve goals important to her; for example, rearranging her bedroom, facilitating her participation as a non-skating roller derby official (learning to do the scoring) and supporting her on campus at university – when she is able to attend.

photo of Tabi with her dog

Tabi with her pet dog


Tabi’s mother, Naomi, points to frustrations with the NDIS, such as delays in waiting for basic items, such as adjustments to Tabi’s existing hoist, a single point walking stick and the correct ankle and foot orthoses. She has also experienced difficulties at the NDIS and Health Department interface. As Tabi is susceptible to fractures, before entering the NDIS she had been receiving ongoing physiotherapy and gym work under her Victorian Individual Service Plan, to help maintain her function. But since entering the NDIS she has been told that the NDIA will only provide 10 physiotherapy sessions and she will need to seek ongoing services via the Victorian Health Department. But Naomi says the Health Department does not provide the services Tabi needs, and she is now trying to resolve the issue via the NDIA. Tabi’s disability is permanent; she needs the ongoing physical intervention, Naomi adds.


Simone told the Federal Parliament Joint Standing committee on the NDIS last year that the scheme had transformed her life. “… I was getting 21.1 hours before, and now I am getting 42 hours. I am doing a lot more. I can be more flexible,” she said. As examples, she told the committee that the NDIS funding enabled her to work in Melbourne and visit a friend she had not seen in 19 years.


Amanda Samek has welcomed the NDIS. “I had a few hiccups at the start but patience and perseverance sorted them out,” she told the Joint Standing Committee last year. “… I could not get in or out [of bed] … so [the NDIS planner] ordered [a new] bed. I have now got a bed that lifts me up and down.” The planner also arranged for decking, so she could get into the backyard. “I feel normal when I have got visitors because I can … go out in the backyard with them,” she said.

To receive Accord click here and become a SCIA member.

Friday, 27 March 2015


Assistive technology for people with spinal cord injury

Assistive technology can make life with spinal cord injury and other disabilities much easier. As the NDIS makes more funding available to people with a disability* it is worth looking into the amazing technology, equipment and modifications that will help improve your independence.

Let’s take a look at what is available and what can be achieved with the right technology.

Talk to your computer or device with speech recognition software

Dragon Naturally Speaking is one of the main speech recognition programs. It has been around for a while, is quite sophisticated and well worth checking out. Speech recognition is also possible on tablets, with Windows building speech recognition into its latest version.  If you are interested in speech recognition software, make sure you research the right kind of software for your computer or device and what it will do for you.

Operate your computer with a mouth stick

Three joysphoto of mouthstick stylustick mouse devices you might want to consider are the QuadMouse, the QuadJoy or LipStick. These and other mouth stick devices all vary in how they operate, so before you whip your credit card out make sure it will suit your needs.

Operate your tablet with a stylus

To do this all you need is a stylus or a mouth stick with conductive material on the tip. The tablet can be hand held, mounted on your wheelchair or mounted elsewhere in your home or workplace, so you can use your tablet wherever you are. This could be useful if you are planning on operating an environmental control system in your house with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Operate your computer with your eyes

Technology has come such a long way that it is now possible to operate your computer by moving your eyes.  Eye gaze systems available include Tobii, Intelligaze and QuickGlance. Ability Technology or Technical Solutions Australia can advise on which system will suit you best.

Control your home environment

screen shot of Ability HouseYou can operate things in your home like doors, lights, windows, entertainment systems, air conditioning, heaters and much more using technological solutions like Infrared, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. To explore your options, visit Ability House an interactive virtual house, just click on an appliance to see what systems will operate it.

Use hand gestures to control a device

Having any kind of hand movement makes it possible to operate a device using hand gestures. If you are running an environmental control system in your house as mentioned above, the stroke of the finger on your device’s screen can control lights, sound systems and other appliances. You can also set up different gestures to trigger different tasks, for example an upwards stroke could turn lights on and a downwards stroke turn them off.

Become a gamer

accessible gaming iconDepending on your level, to become a gamer you might just need an adapted game controller and accessible video games to play. AbleGamers is a US based organisation that reviews games and specifically assesses the accessibility of each title, including mobility, auditory and visual scores. They also advise video game developers on how to make games as accessible as possible. Visit their enthusiastic online community Unstoppable Gamers to read reviews, chat with others and discover tips and tricks.

The future

This is just a small snapshot of assistive technology and ideas available – if you are having a problem doing or accessing something there may be a technological solution out there, or you may be the first person to invent it!

Look out for the articles by Graeme Smith from Ability Technology in Accord, where he covers currently available and up and coming assistive technology.

More information

Visit our Assistive Technology page for links to more resources and organisations working in the field or contact us at or 1800 819 775.

*The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) realises the importance of assistive technology and its potential to improve lives. Their discussion paper Towards Solutions for Assistive Technology is well worth a read.

    Friday, 27 March 2015


    Joan Hume encourages voters with a disability to use iVote

    SCIA President Joan Hume has been featured in The Australian letting voters with a disability know about the iVote system for the upcoming NSW state election.

    “Most of the polling booths in my electorate of Coogee are inaccessible,” Ms Hume said. “My closest polling booth is up a flight of stairs and there’s no accessible parking within cooee.’’

    Ms Hume says there is no right more basic than the right to participate in the democratic process. “When you can’t access a local polling booth, it diminishes your choice and independence,” she said. “It means as a voter with a disability you are less valued than other people.’’

    Any voter who is vision-impaired or has a disability, lives more than 20km from a polling booth or will be out of the state on March 28 can cast their vote online or by phone.

    By the election between 150,000 - 200,000 voters are expected to have used the iVote electronic voting system.

    Click here to read the full article.

    Click here for more information in the iVote system.

    Tuesday, 24 March 2015


    Norwegian physiotherapy students visit Walk On

    Juliane NaesPhoto of Juliane & Debbie working out at Walk Ons is a Norwegian physiotherapy student visiting our Exercise Therapy program Walk On from Saxion University. Juliane is the fourth Norwegian student we've had come to Walk On over the past two years, to learn from our expertise in exercise therapy for people with spinal cord injury (SCI) and take it back to their home country.

    As part of the their undergraduate physiotherapy course, the Norwegian physiotherapy students choose a 10 week international placement as part of their 4th year. The students who have chosen to visit us in Australia have all been extremely valuable assets to the program. They’ve been incredible in building rapport with clients and becoming a part of our Walk On family.

    Juliane is thrilled with choosing Walk On for her placement. She really enjoys working hands on with the clients and is impressed with the length and intensity of each session, saying “It’s amazing to have an opportunity to work with a client for two hours at a time”. Juliane also touches on the innovative and individually tailored aspects of the program. “The staff are always trying different things with clients to get the most benefit out of the session for them,” Juliane says. 

    Malene Stirling was one of the first students to visit us at Walk On, she said of her experience, “I'm very happy I had the chance to spend time at Walk On. The staff are very talented and I feel honouredPhoto of Juliane & client Debbie at Walk On to have learned from them. Ten weeks passes by very fast and I wish I had the opportunity to stay longer. My dream is to work with people with spinal cord injuries in Norway and perhaps come back to Australia to continue to develop myself as a physiotherapist”. Malene has since realised her dream, and is now a Physiotherapist at Cato Senteret Rehabilitation Centre in Norway, dedicating her time to improving the lives of people with SCI through exercise therapy. 

    It is fantastic to hear that international students are being inspired by their time at Walk On to specialise in the field and go on to help people in their home country with SCI improve their health and functionality. We look forward to welcoming more students from Saxion University and other parts of the world in the future.

    Photos: Juliane with Deborah, who has T12 paraplegia, working out at the Walk On gym in Sydney

    Tuesday, 24 March 2015


    SCIA joins forces with the NRL

    Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) has formed a partnership with the National Rugby League (NRL) to assist injured rugby league players and their families following a major injury.

    As well as providing practical assistance, the partnership will also fund joint research initiatives to assist injured footballers.

    The partnership will operate alongside the NRL’s soon to be established Injured Players Foundation, which will provide long-term assistance to players who sustain severe and permanent disabilities while playing rugby league. The Foundation will cover players from schoolboys and juniors right through to first grade.

    The way the partnership will operate in practice is currently being finalised. Watch this space for more news on this exciting initiative in coming months.

    photo of football field

    Friday, 20 March 2015


    Teamsafe features on A Current Affair

    A Current Affair​ featured David Crawford, ambassador for our workplace injury prevention program Teamsafe, in an important story about workplace safety. To watch click here.

    Our Teamsafe program presents the real-life story of why following safety processes based on participation, facilitation and empowerment is so important. For more information on the Teamsafe program click here.

    Monday, 09 March 2015


    Timothy Rushby-Smith's life down-under

    SCIA member Timothy Rushby-Smith recently shared the story of his injury and move from London to Australia with the UK Spinal Injury Assocation magazine forward.

    Click here to read the article

    forward magazine article


    Friday, 06 March 2015


    Teamsafe features in Safety Solutions Magazine

    Our workplace injury prevention program Teamsafe was recently featured in Safety Solutions Magazine.

    "Organised by Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA), the Teamsafe workplace safety and injury prevention program presents a human face on why following safety processes based on participation, facilitation and empowerment is so important. Now working as a Teamsafe coordinator at Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, David Crawford shares the workplace experience that dramatically changed his life in the blink of an eye."

    Click here to read the article here.

    Friday, 06 March 2015


    Run for SCIA in 2015

    Thanks to people running in various events across the country, vital funds are being raised for people with spinal cord injury and similar disability.

    The bar has been raised for 2015 and we need your help!

    You can help by participating in one of the running events below and fundraising for SCIA. Your support ensures that people with spinal cord injury or similar disability can continue using our programs to improve their health, well-being and independence.

    One such program is Burn Rubber Burn (BrB), a vital exercise program for people with disability that was facing the axe. We have stepped in to save it and now we need your help. Run for us in 2015 and help people with a disability who rely on SCIA services and programs like BrB to improve their health, well-being and independence.

    Click here to watch Ben work out at BrB.

    Here are some of the running events coming up this year:

    Thursday, 05 March 2015


    Janine Shepherd - from wheels to wings

    On the brink of a Winter Olympics debut as a cross-country skier in 1986, Janine Shepherd was hit by a truck during bike training in the Blue Mountains. Over the 30 years since her accident Janine has written three books (her first Never Say Never was made into a film), has become a fully qualified commercial pilot and aerobatics flying instructor and has been a tireless ambassador for spinal research.

    Janine talks about her role as a Red Bull Wings for Life World Run ambassador the importance of exercise programs like Walk On for people with spinal cord injury.

    “Research has come a long way since my accident. I was sent home from hospital and it was up to me to forge my own way forward. Now we are seeing brilliant programs such as Project Walk in the USA, and Walk On in Australia that are harnessing the latest techniques and cutting edge knowledge, particularly in the field of Neuroplasticity, to achieve the best possible outcome for new patients."

    Read more here.

    Tuesday, 24 February 2015


    Provide feedback on your experience with the NDIS

    The Physical Disability Council of NSW is seeking your feedback on your knowledge and experience of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) (even if you live outside of the trial site). The information you provide us will be fed back to the National Disability Insurance Agency, and also help inform submissions and forums. 

    Responses can be from individuals with disability, family members or people in a support network of an individual. 

    Feedback can be provided by calling 02 9552 1606, emailing, or you can fill in our online survey:

    We thank you for your time spent providing this feedback. 

    Thursday, 05 February 2015


    NDIS Update - the rollout continues to gather momentum

    by Tony Jones, SCIA Policy & Advocacy Officer

    The NDIS logo graphicrollout of the NDIS continues to gather momentum and increase in numbers. Last November saw the official update with the NDIA releasing its most recent quarterly report with the data showing almost 9000 participants across the country. The report includes for the first time data from the three new trial sites — ACT, Barkly (NT) and Perth Hills (WA) — alongside the existing four sites.The salient facts are:

    • Participant satisfaction remains very high at 1.67 on a scale of -2 (very poor) to +2 (very good).
    • 10,939 people have been found eligible for the NDIS, with 8880 having approved individualised support plans in place by the end of September.
    • More than $395.3 million has been committed to these participants.
    • The average package cost in the first year of the scheme is $35,207, below the funding expectation of $36,750.

    As far as individual package costs go, 3,894 participants have support packages of less than $30,000 for a total of $50.0 million which represents only 23% of total committed supports – only 10% of participants have an annualised package cost over $100,000, but these participants account for 49% of total committed supports.

    In addition to package costs, $45.5 million has been committed to research and innovation projects, and there is another $48.5 million worth of projects under development according to the 5th Quarterly Report to COAG Council on Disability Reform from September 2014.

    10,226 plans have been approved to date, including 1,314 second plans and 32 third plans; plan reviews represented approximately half of plans approved in the New South Wales and Victorian trial sites (52% and 49% respectively). These plans are mostly agency managed (71%), and 28% use a combination of agency management and self-management.

    Service Providers

    There are 1,494 registered service providers now in the scheme, of whom:

    • 1,418 (95%) operate in one state/territory only.
    • 1,052 (70%) are small/medium enterprises.
    • 1,233 (83%) are new to the NDIS and have not been previously registered with the Department of Social Services.

    Service providers have received a total of $86.9 million for participant supports, which is over 90% of the total payments made to date. The remaining $6.0 million has been paid to participants who are self-managing.

    To date there have been 24 appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, 12 due to access issues and 12 due to plan issues. There have also been 370 complaints, 66% due to agency related issues, and 16% due to the amount of reasonable and necessary supports in participant plans.

    New Minister for Social Services

    Scott Morrison, the newly appointed Minister for Social Services, has made comments in the media suggesting cuts to welfare payments are necessary to help pay for the NDIS. He has drawn some criticism for these remarks as the two issues are separate. In December 2013 the Federal Government commissioned a review of Australia’s welfare system to identify improvements to ensure the social support system is sustainable and in last year’s budget announced changes to the Disability Support Pension eligibility. The NDIS is a national program of care and support for people with significant disability and replaces State and Territory programs. The funding for this has already been committed. Assistant Minister for Social Services, Mitch Fifield has the direct responsibility of rolling out the NDIS with full implementation due in 2019.

    To keep up to date with NDIS developments join our Facebook group Disability Advocates SCIA.

    Monday, 02 February 2015


    Imagine Me - Images from the Ballina and Coffs Harbour workshops

    These artworks were produced during the latest Imagine Me project workshops in Ballina and Coffs Harbour.

    The workshops were run by photographer Sue Murray with support from SCIA staff and clients. The workshops enable people with spinal cord injury or similar physical disability to create innovative individual artworks using digital photography. Specifically adapted technology enables people with limited mobility to control an entire photo studio using professional cameras & lighting.

    Click on the image to read the artist's statement:

    Craig's artwork  Steve's artwork

    Heather's artwork   Lee's artwork

    Sharna's artwork  Hank's artwork 

    Jim's artwork   Di's artwork

    Hamish's artwork

    Visit for upcoming workshops and watch this video about the project. 

    Monday, 02 February 2015


    Burn Rubber Burn becomes an SCIA program

    We are excited to announce that the Burn Rubber Burn (BrB) program has joined us as a new Spinal Cord Injuries Australia service for people with spinal cord injury and other disabilities. The program provides affordable and accessible exercise in gyms across Sydney for people with physical disabilities. SCIA stepped in to save the program late last year, as it was not going to be able to continue into 2015 without intervention.

    BrB currently operates out of five Police Citizens Youth Clubs across Sydney; Daceyville, Sutherland, Penrith, Bankstown and Campbelltown, and has over 150 active clients with spinal cord injury or other disabilities, such as MS, cystic fibrosis or brain injury.

    BrB will complement our already established services and programs for people with disabilities, and we are excited about the opportunity to expand the BrB program to regional areas of NSW and into other states in the future.

    Exercise is known to be of immense benefit to people with spinal cord injury and similar disabilities, helping people to maintain their health and independence. SCIA is proud to be able to offer our members and clients an increasing amount of choice when it comes to accessing exercise programs to suit their lifestyles.

    If you'd like to improve your health and wellbeing get involved with this fantastic program, email or call 1800 819 775.

    If you'd like to support the program by making a donation click here and write Burn Rubber Burn in the comment section.

    Sharon working out at the BrB gym photo

    Sharon working out at the gym

    Monday, 02 February 2015


    Big changes lie ahead for personal care services

    Changes ahead graphicIf you are living in NSW and receiving your personal care through the NSW Government’s Home Care Service, you may have heard that with the full roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) the government is intending to transfer all of the programs and supports they currently provide to people with disabilities to the private sector. As part of this transition the government is selling the Home Care Service to a non-government operator.

    Why are they making these changes?

    The government has decided that moving Home Care to the non-government sector will enable improvements and innovation within the community care sector and will give people with disability far more choice and control over the services they need.  The government is currently asking for tenders to run the service and if everything goes to plan the program will be in the hands of a non-government provider from July 2015.

    What does this mean for my existing situation?

    There will be no immediate change to your services or to the Home Care staff that support you. A key consideration for the government when selecting new operators to run the program will be the ability of the operator to continue providing the same services that are currently being delivered.

    What if I don’t want services from the new provider?

    People will have freedom of choice over which provider they choose to receive their services and supports from. Home Care’s new operators will take on Home Care’s existing capacity and if you are an NDIS funded client you are already able to choose any registered NDIS provider for your supports.

    How do I stay informed?

    If you have questions or concerns you can call the Home Care Service on 1800 003 227, or contact your service coordinator at your local branch. Alternatively, contact us at Spinal Cord Injuries Australia on 1800 819 775 or email and we will be able to help you.

    What about Home Care Services in other states across Australia?Australian map graphic

    Services similar to the NSW Home Care Service operate in most other states and with the NDIS being implemented across Australia changes will very likely occur, but for the moment it appears to be business as usual. If you have questions or want to find out what is planned for the future get in touch with your service coordinator, or contact us at Spinal Cord Injuries Australia on 1800 819 775 or email we'll be happy to assist.

    What if I use The Attendant Care and High Needs Pool program in NSW?

    If you have been receiving your personal care services through the Attendant Care or the High Needs program you will have already been switched over to the Community Support Program (CSP), which came into effect in July 2014. If you are not on this program and would like to be, get yourself registered on the CSP Service Needs Register as soon as possible, because there is a high demand for the program and access cannot be guaranteed. Once you are on the register your access to the program will be prioritised according to need.

    Look out for our Autumn issue of Accord, it will feature an article on how to manage your own care package.

    Photo credit: Changes ahead: One Way Stock, Map of Australia: color line

    Friday, 30 January 2015


    SCIA joins call for inquiry into violence, abuse & neglect against people with disability

    In January 2015, a letter calling for a national inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect against people with a disability in institutional settings was sent to the Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP.

    Spinal Cord Injuries Australia was among over 95 organisations across Australia who endorsed the call.

    Our president Joan Hume has also supported the campaign by sending a letter to the Prime Minister on behalf of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia. Click here to read the letter.

    Joam Hum's letter to the Prime Minister

    Read the full list of organisations calling for the inquiry here.

    Visit the campaigns website here.

    Sign the petition here.

    Friday, 23 January 2015


    SBS reports - implanted electrobe receptors help US man move knees and toes

    SBS News reports that a man in the US who was paralysed after an accident has been able to move his knees and toes again thanks to an experimental new treatment.

    Nearly two-and-a-half years after his accident, Calven Goza has been able to move his knees and toes. In December of last year, University of Louisville researchers surgically implanted electrode receptors into his lower spine and had sensors wired to his legs.

    An electrical charge is sent to the receptors in his damaged spinal cord to mimic brain signals, with the idea that the pulse could help stimulate and trigger movement from the muscles.

    After nearly two hours of testing, lead researcher and neuroscientist Dr Susan Harkema ramped up the voltage and Goza was able to first shift his big toe, and then eventually bend his knee.

    Researchers hope that this therapy will eventually be able to help people get the return of bladder and bowel control and sexual function.

    The experience was described as "pretty awesome" by Goza.

    In addition to leading this scientific research, Dr Harkema pioneered the Locomotor Training that the SCIA Walk On program delivers for people with spinal cord injury.

    Dr Harkema was the keynote speaker at the recent Australia and New Zealand Spinal Cord Society (ANZSCoS) conference, and spoke about extremely positive data on the effects of Locomotor Training and task specific training for people with spinal cord injury. Our Exercise Programs team met Dr Harkema and discussed her and SCIA's work in the field. SCIA's National Manager of Exercise Programs has also completed Dr Harkema's Locomotor Training course.

    Click here to read more about the story.

    Thursday, 08 January 2015


    National register to collect information about childhood SCI

    Do you or a member of your family have a spinal cord injury that happened in childhood?

    If so, you may be able to assist in the development of a national register that collects information about childhood SCI by participating in the following research project;

    Making connections: Using consumer, health professional, and researcher perspectives to guide the establishment of a national paediatric spinal cord injury register.

    If you are interested in participating in this study, or would like to find out more, please contact, Erin Garner T/0479 077 307 or email: by the 12th of January, 2015.

    Monday, 08 December 2014


    Did you know you could access…

    Energy Rebates
    People with spinal cord injury can have trouble regulating their core body temperature and face additional costs to heat and cool their homes. In NSW the Medical Energy Rebate will help cover those costs. Eligible people can apply for the rebate by contacting their energy retailer directly. The rebate is automatically deducted from quarterly power bills. Other states have similar schemes, in Queensland the Medical Cooling and Heating Electricity Commission Scheme, in Victoria the Medical Cooling Concession, in WA the Cost of Living Assistance (CoLA) Payment and in the ACT the Life Support Medical Heating and Cooling Concession and the Energy Concession.

    Companion Card

    People with a disability can get a Companion Card. When the cardholder buys a ticket for themselves at selected venues and facilities around NSW, their companion will get free entry. Each state or territory issues their own Companion Cards, however a cardholder can use their card across Australia. A companion can be a partner, family member, friend, volunteer or paid carer. Click here to find Companion Card in your state.

    The MLAK is a master key that fits into specially designed locks allowing 24 hour a day access to public toilets for people with a disability, who can buy a key that opens all accessible toilets displaying the MLAK symbol. Click here for more information about getting a key.

    GST Exemption when buying a car
    You can buy a car GST-free if you have a disability and will use the car to travel to and from work for either two years or for 40,000 kilometres from the date you bought it.

    Other entitlements / concessions
    Make sure you read this page on our website to keep up to date with all of the concessions, benefits and entitlements you can access.

    Government websites outlining their concessions

    ·         VIC

    Tuesday, 02 December 2014


    Help to manage chronic SCI pain

    The ACI Pain Management Network has created the online toolkit to help improve the quality of life for people living with spinal cord injury who experience chronic pain. SCIA members and clients shared their experiences of pain and how they cope to assist the ACI Pain Management Network in creating this toolkit, which includes:

    • Videos about successful strategies used by people with spinal cord injury to manage chronic pain
    • A ‘Navigator’ decision support tool to guide healthcare professionals through the complexity of chronic pain in spinal cord injury to support the development of a pain management plan
    • Complementary resources for consumers, patients and healthcare professionals to work in partnership and produce pain management plans.

     The toolkit helps people manage pain through topics like physical activity, exercise, lifestyle, nutrition, medications and sleep.

     Associate Professor James Middleton, Director and Chair of the ACI State Spinal Cord Injury Service, led the toolkit’s development with a number of experts in the field. He stressed the importance of self-management for people with SCI who experience chronic pain.

     “The most effective pain management is to arm the person with spinal cord injury and pain with a range of skills and self-management strategies to build into daily life and routines,” said Associate Professor Middleton.

     The toolkit is available online by clicking here or you can borrow The Spinal Cord Injury Pain Book via the SCIA library.

    Tuesday, 18 November 2014


    Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week

    Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week 2014

    Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week (9 – 15 November 2014) is a national campaign highlighting spinal cord injury in the community. The week is relevant not only to people living with spinal cord injuries, their families and friends; but the broader community, venues and business. - See more at:
    Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week (9 – 15 November 2014) is a national campaign highlighting spinal cord injury in the community. The week is relevant not only to people living with spinal cord injuries, their families and friends; but the broader community, venues and business. - See more at:
    Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week (9 – 15 November 2014) is a national campaign highlighting spinal cord injury in the community. The week is relevant not only to people living with spinal cord injuries, their families and friends; but the broader community, venues and business. - See more at:

    Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week is a national campaign highlighting spinal cord injury in the community. The week is relevant to people living with spinal cord injuries, their families and friends and the broader community, venues and business.

    During Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week the Australian Spinal Injury Alliance, representing eight of Australia’s state-based spinal cord injury organisations, highlights what it means to have a spinal cord injury, how spinal cord injury can be prevented, the common barriers that prevent social inclusion, and what needs to be done to ensure all people with spinal cord injury can contribute to community life. The Alliance also aims to deliver a National Spinal Cord Injury Strategy that will lay the foundation for better outcomes, both social and economic, for all Australians who have sustained a spinal cord injury. 

    Support Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week by donating here.

    During this week, spinal injury organisations around Australia are working together to highlight the common barriers that prevent social inclusion, what it means to have a spinal cord injury and still contribute to community life as well as what we can all do to prevent one.

    The Australian Spinal Injury Alliance, representing eight of Australia’s state-based spinal cord injury organisations, has been established to provide a national voice for people who have a spinal cord injury.

    - See more at:

    SCI statistics

    • Of reported traumatic spinal cord injuries, 84% are male and 16% female
    • Spinal cord injuries were most frequent in 15-24 year old age group (accounting for 30%)
    • 80% of newly reported spinal cord injury cases are due to traumatic injuries like motor vehicle accidents or falls
    • Newly reported non-traumatic spinal cord injury cases are usually caused by vascular disorders, degenerative conditions, genetic disorders and cancerous lesions
    • The most common category of spinal cord injury is Incomplete Quadriplegia (38%) where there is a loss of movement and/or sensation in all four limbs

    Social impact

    • Spinal cord injury has enormous health, social and economic impacts on individuals, families and communities.
    • As well as the physical and psychological impact on those affected directly by spinal cord injury, there is also a heavy burden on those who support and care for them
    • Socio-economic factors known to be important in relation to injury and rehabilitation are marital status, employment status and educational level attained at the time of onset of the spinal cord injury.

    Click here to download the Spinal Injuries Awareness Week fact sheet.

    The Alliance of State Spinal Injury Organisations

    Follow the Australian Spinal Alliance on Twitter @SpinalAlliance

    Sunday, 09 November 2014


    A world first - spinal cord injury comic books launched

    In a  world first, two comic books designed to teach young children about what it’s like to live with a spinal cord injury Medikidz Explain Spinal Cord Injury and Meditotz Explain Spinal Cord Injuries were launched today 7th November, to coincide with the start of Spinal Injury Awareness Week, 9 - 15 November. The comic books are based on real life stories of three Australian children who live with a spinal cord injury. Evander Conroy, an SCIA and Walk On client, appears in the comics.

    Evander’s mum, Clare, is proud her son can tell his story in the comic books: “It has been good to be able to share what Evander enjoys in his day and then see those appear as part of the story.”

    Evander training at Walk On

    “The comic is simple enough for young children to understand and fun at the same time. It will be a very useful tool for Evander, and other children who can take it to school and share with their class or with their brother and sister. Children naturally have a lot of questions about why Evander is in a wheelchair and it will help to have a comic that answers these.”

    Click here to download the comic books from the SpineCare Foundation, a division of Northcott. To get printed copies of the books contact The books can also be borrowed from SCIA's library. See here for details.

      Evander's Adventure

    Friday, 07 November 2014


    Tim McCallum speaking about the recent medical breakthrough for spinal surgery

    Watch Tim McCallum, the spokesperson for the Australian Spinal Injury Alliance on ABC News 24 on 22nd October. Tim spoke to the ABC following the news a 38-year-old Bulgarian man has been able to walk again thanks to a pioneering method of spinal surgery. Cells were taken from the man’s nose and inserted into the injured area of his spinal cord. Tim was injured at 18 years old and says that this and other scientific breakthroughs provide hope to people with spinal cord injury.

    Friday, 31 October 2014


    New Imagine Me Images

    Here are some recent images created by the Imagine Me project. The workshops are run by photographer Sue Murray, who supports people with spinal cord injury or similar physical disability to create innovative individual artworks using digital photography. Specifically adapted technology enables people with limited mobility to control an entire photo studio using professional cameras & lighting.

    On Thursday 30th October an exhibition of the works created by our clients in the Illawarra will take place in our Wollongong office.

    On Wednesday 3rd December an exhibition of 30 works will be on display to celebrate International Day of People with Disability at Royal Rehab in Ryde, Sydney.

    Visit for more information about the project or watch this video. For information about upcoming workshops in Ballina, Coffs Harbour and Tamworth contact Sue on 0412 810 745.



    Tuesday, 28 October 2014


    Greg Killeen speaks to the ABC's AM program about increasing the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme

    SCIA Senior Policy & Advocacy Officer Greg Killeen spoke to the ABC's AM program about the importance of increasing the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme. The interview took place ahead of a rally and forum held on the issue at NSW Parliament House on 21st October. Click here to listen to the interview.

    Greg Killeen & Mark Tonga rally for an increase to the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme

    Tuesday, 21 October 2014


    Australian Spinal Injury Alliance


    October 7, 2014

    Today the Spinal Alliance Sets Agenda for a National Spinal Cord Injury Strategy

    Senator Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services Welcomes Approach

    Today the Australian Spinal Injury Alliance (Spinal Alliance), representing eight of Australia’s state-based spinal cord injury organisations, launches its vision, and approach to deliver a National Spinal Cord Injury Strategy that will lay the foundation for better outcomes, both social and economic, for all Australians who have sustained a spinal cord injury (SCI).

    The announcement comes ahead of the Spinal Cord Injuries Awareness Week (9-15 November, 2014) and is welcomed by Senator Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services.

    The Hon. Mitch Fifield comments, “The Alliance’s threefold approach of working with stakeholders, promoting coordination and monitoring outcomes will lay the foundation of a sound strategy.

    “The collaborative, holistic approach is a good fit for the new world heralded by the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, with its focus on helping people with disability achieve their own goals through a combination of services and supports they have chosen for themselves,” said Senator Fifield.

    Every day in Australia someone’s life will change in an instant due to a spinal cord injury, with an immeasurable emotional, social and financial impact on the individual, their family, friends and community.

    The current outcomes for people living with a spinal cord injury in Australia are well short of international best practice.

    Peter Trethewey, Spokesperson of the Australian Spinal Injury Alliance, comments, “As the national voice for all Australians with a SCI, the time is ‘now’ for the Alliance to collaborate and make a difference, to leverage our relationships across the board and to pursue outcomes that matter to every Australian with a SCI.”

    The Alliance’s approach for a National Spinal Cord Injury Strategy is threefold:

    1. To work with all stakeholders to agree a set of outcomes most valued by people with a SCI
    2. To facilitate discussion, promote coordination, set priorities and actions of the service system to achieve those outcomes
    3. To start to measure and monitor outcomes, and take necessary action in response

    “We believe we now have the opportunity to truly deliver, measure and monitor outcomes, to those dealing with this most devastating of injuries,” says Mr Trethewey.

    Tim McCallum, who sustained a SCI in 1999 due to a swimming accident at a local Perth beach, gives a personal perspective at today’s launch and comments, “The proposed National SCI Strategy has the potential to seamlessly connect people to all the support services they need at the time they are needed and most importantly deliver outcomes of most value to each one of us who has sustained an SCI. I do believe that the collaborative approach The Spinal Alliance is taking to bring together separate organisations and services will help reach a goal that would be otherwise difficult to achieve.”

    Key outcome priorities include access to support services; equipment; healthcare; information; employment; education; community services, and research.  A National SCI strategy would also help to collate robust data on the number of Australians who sustain an SCI every year.

    The Australian Spinal Injury Alliance launch event is being held on Tuesday 7 October, 10:00am-11:00am at JBWere, Level 16, 101 Collins Street, Melbourne.

    Follow the Australian Spinal Injury Alliance on Twitter - @SpinalAlliance.


    Tuesday, 07 October 2014


    Funding available around Australia

      A range of funding options are available to people with a disability. State and territory governments provide a number of programs that offer funding for housing, home modifications, personal care, home help, respite care, transport, and equipment. However there are many other alternatives out there as well, visit out Financials - Benefits, Funding, Pensions, Grants page for a full run down.

      Here are some funding opportunities for people with a disability from around Australia we have heard about recently.

      NSW - SCIA Grant Scheme

      Our very own Grant Scheme provides up to $2,000 to people with an SCI or similar disability who are members of SCIA. The scheme will fund tools, equipment, planned respite and many other activities that will empower people to live independently. Funding is also available in emergency situation. Click here for more information about the scheme, and for updated guidance on what constitutes planned respite or a holiday when applying for a SCIA Grant.

      WA - Equipment for Living Grants

      Equipment for Living Grants are available to assist eligible people obtain vital equipment not currently available through the Community Aids and Equipment Program or other support programs. The maximum individual grant is $5,000. Click here for more information.

      VIC - Foundation 97

      Grants are available to people with spinal cord injury who don't have the funding available to participate in sport and recreation, or to undertake training or education to increase their employment opportunities. The deadline for the current round of grants is Friday 3rd of October 2014 at 5pm. Click here for more information.

      QLD - Youngcare Home Soon Grant

      The Youngcare Home Soon Grants support young people by making it possible for them to transition out of aged care and back to their community. Funding between $5,000 and $20,000 is available for equipment, home modifications or respite/attendant carer services. In exceptional circumstances, funding of up to $50,000 will be considered. Click here for more information.

      Friday, 26 September 2014


      Tim Hays returns to work thanks to In-Voc and support from SCIA

      Fantastic to see the wonderful story of Tim Hay's journey back to work in the Newcastle Herald. With the support of In-Voc, the spinal ward at Royal North Shore Hospital and the SCIA Peer Support team, Tim has started re-training as a spatial analyst at the company where he worked prior to his injury. Tim says, "it has given me something to strive towards, not just through an employment side of things, but a social and intellectual side as well."

      Click here to read the article.

      If you are interested in returning to work, contact our Workforce team on

      Tuesday, 23 September 2014


      Walk On client Mikaela Williams

      One of our youngest Walk On clients has been featured on the front cover of Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association Quarterly magazine. Mikaela attends our exercise program Walk On in Brisbane and has been getting some excellent results, with her strength, balance and independence improving.

      When asked about Walk On, Mikaela’s dad Peter says, “kids like Mikaela need places like this. When you combine an intensive, consistent and disciplined program with committed therapists and parents working together, that is a potent mix that launches their development into overdrive.”

      Click here to read the full article.

      Monday, 22 September 2014


      Home modifications and builds with Chris Nicholls

      If you are thinking about doing home modifications take a look at this presentation made by Chris Nicholls, our Transitional Services Manager, at a recent Universal Design Conference in Sydney.

      Chris was injured in a motorcycle accident and has T6 paraplegia, so when it came to designing a new home it needed to be accessible for him and comfortable for his wife Jen and their four children.

      Chris shares the challenges he faced and his advice and tips on building an accessible home, which can be applied to minor or major home modifications. Chris covers the practical solutions he found for indoor and outdoor living – from choosing suitable taps and appliances to building a pool accessible for someone with paraplegia.

      Click here to download the presentation.

      Chris Nicholls' accessible family home

      Wednesday, 17 September 2014


      Insight - Jobs and Disability

      It was refreshing to see an informed discussion on the topic of jobs and disability on SBS's Insight program. The program looked at whether more people with disabilities should be working and what’s standing in the way. The hurdles, practicalities, and attitudes of employers and job seekers with a disability were all discussed, you can watch the program by clicking below.

      SBS Insight Jobs and Disability

      If you have a spinal cord injury and are interested in finding employment, contact the SCIA Workforce team on or 1800 819 775.

      Tuesday, 19 August 2014


      Australia wins the 2014 International IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championships

      Australia has won the 2014 International IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championships, defeating Canada 67-56. This is the first time Australia has won the championships, and it makes Australia the second nation in history to hold the Paralympic and world championship titles at the same time. All eyes will be on the team to see if they can repeat their success at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

      Australian coach Brad Dubberley said he could not be prouder of his team.

      “World champions, Paralympic champions, this team just keeps getting better,” Dubberley said.

      “I’m so proud of our whole team. Not just the athletes, but all the support staff. It’s a huge accomplishment. We’re really enjoying our success and we’re going to celebrate being world champions here. But as soon as we get home, it’s going to be all systems go for the Paralympics. I think there is still a lot of room for improvement before we get to Rio.”

      Congratulations to Naz Erdim, one of our wonderful Accord contributors, who helped Australia bring home the win.

      FINAL STANDINGS – 2014 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championships
      1. Australia
      2. Canada
      3. United States
      4. Japan
      5. Great Britain
      6. Denmark
      7. Sweden
      8. New Zealand
      9. France
      10. Finland
      11. Germany
      12. Belgium

      You can keep up to date with the team's preparations for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games by liking the Australian Paralympic Team on Facebook.

      Australian Wheelchair Rugby Team Wins

      Image: Brian Mouridsen

      Monday, 11 August 2014


      National Disability Insurance Scheme Update

      From Tony Jones

      Spinal Cord Injuries Australia Policy & Advocacy Officer

      NDIS - Every Australian Counts

      July 1, 2014 marked the first year anniversary of the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) for the four trial sites in the Hunter (NSW), Barwon (VIC), South Australia (for children under six years of age) and in Tasmania (for young people, aged 15 to 24 years). The ACT, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have signed agreements with the Federal government to start their trials and Queensland has also agreed to full commencement starting in 2016, making it a truly national scheme.

      According to the first year progress report, 6434 participants have been found eligible for the scheme, with 5414 having an approved plan by the end of March 2014. At this stage this is a small number and only early days; full implementation across the entire country will progress gradually over the next few years until 2018 – 2019, which will see around 400,000 to 450,000 participants with the full cost expected to be up to $22 billion each year. The average package cost so far for each participant is just over $32,000 and head office has moved from Canberra to Geelong. Read More »

      Wednesday, 23 July 2014


      Pain and temperature preservation following SCI

      Over the last two decades, in collaboration with the spinal cord community and spinal injury units around New South Wales, members of the Pain Management Research Institute (Kolling Institute), University of Sydney have been working to improve the management of people with pain following spinal cord injury.

      To improve the way pain is assessed following spinal cord injury an evaluation is being conducted into the benefit of a sensitive nerve test (Contact Heat Evoked Potentials) to detect surviving pain and temperature nerves in the spine following spinal cord injury. This test measures brain activation (electroencephalographic recording or EEG) following a computer driven heat pulse to the skin. The presence of a brain wave indicates communication between the skin and brain and intact temperature and pain pathways. This test is likely to be more sensitive and objective than the current approach of asking whether cold or heat is felt

      The study is recruiting people with complete (preferably thoracic level) spinal cord injuries with or without nerve pain, also looking for healthy controls without pain or injury.

      The study involves one visit to Royal North Shore Hospital and is expected to take approximately 3 hours. An amount of $120 will be provided to assist with the costs of attending.

      If you have any questions, would like to view the information sheet or would like to participate in this study please email Dr Paul Wrigley or phone 02 9926 4859.

      Monday, 16 June 2014


      Future breakthroughs in spinal cord injury treatment closer with new research scholarship

      The prospect of future breakthroughs in spinal cord injury treatment has been boosted with the joint announcement today of a new medical research Fellowship, according to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

      Duncan Wallace, spokesman for Not-For-Profits SpinalCure Australia and Spinal Cord Injuries Australia said the David Prast Research Establishment Fellowship, valued at up to $450,000 over three years, will fund research into spinal cord injuries and aim to improve outcomes for the 12,000 Australians living with spinal cord injury.

      The Fellowship is a joint partnership between Not-For-Profits SpinalCure Australia (SCA), Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP).

      “The Fellowship was established to commemorate the work of the late spinal injuries advocate Australian David Prast, who despite a spinal cord injury, used his drive and determination to focus on better initiatives in the spinal field, particularly in medical research, until his death in November 2011,” said Duncan Wallace.

      “These are exciting times for spinal cord injury research - stimulating the spinal cord below the level of injury has shown remarkable success in rats and now thrilling results in four young men as reported recently in the medical journal Brain.

      “The men, who have been paralysed for years, were able to move their legs voluntarily with the help of an implanted device that delivered an electrical current to the lower spinal cord, known as epidural stimulation.”

      “So we expect that the successful candidate will be working with international leaders in the field with a view to bringing epidural stimulation and other technologies back to Australia.”

      Applications for the Fellowship close on Monday 23rd June 2014. To read about the Program and apply for the Fellowship please visit here.

      Wednesday, 14 May 2014


      DIY Home Modifications - Consumer Survey

      The Home Modification Information Clearinghouse at the University of New South Wales is undertaking research into DIY home modifications. 

      Do you know anyone that has done a home modification?

      Have you, your carer, or someone you care for ever undertaken a do-it-yourself home modification project?

      Was the modification a grab rail, hand-held shower, level access shower recess, ramp, handrail, or something else?

      Your experiences matter!

      The Home Modification Information Clearinghouse would love to hear from you if you:

      • Have experience of a do-it-yourself home modification project
      • Live in New South Wales
      • Are over 18 years old

      You are invited to complete a short survey so that it can be better understood why people choose to do home modifications DIY and more importantly, if home modifications done in this manner have made a difference to your quality of life.

      The research aims to develop resources to assist people with disability and their carers to undertake do-it-yourself home modification projects safely and appropriately.

      This research is being funded from Ageing, Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services. UNSW Ethics Approval no. 145013.

      If you require any assistance or have any questions please feel free to contact Nicole McNamara ph: 02 9385 4529 email:

      See here to access the survey and download the Participant Information Statement.

      Tuesday, 13 May 2014


      The David Prast Leadership Program

      As part of the David Prast Leadership Program, The David Prast Research Establishment Fellowship is currently being advertised by the Royal Australia College of Physicians. To read about the Program and the David Prast Research Establishment Fellowship please visit here

      Wednesday, 30 April 2014


      Pressure Ulcer Prevention study

      Did you know that the risk of developing a pressure ulcer increases significantly from 10 years after a SCI?1

      Why do some people develop pressure ulcers and others don’t?

      You can help find the answer!

      This landmark AusCAN Risk study2, will follow 500 people across Canada and Australia for 3 years looking at the broadest range of risk factors ever investigated in SCI pressure ulcer prevention research. Its aim is to reduce the impact that pressure ulcers have on people’s lives through early identification of people at risk of skin breakdown. We are looking for people who have had a SCI for 10 years or more to participate.

      Come along and:

      • Pressure map your seat3
      • Have an ultrasound of your bottom cheeks
      • Hear about the latest way to check for some early signs of skin damage

      Plus, have your weight and height measured each visit.

      Taxi expenses covered & receive a $25 Coles/Myer voucher each visit for participating.

      What’s involved?

      A few hours once a year (for 3 years) at your choice of RNSH or Assistive Technology & Seating clinic (Gladesville)4

      What next?

      If you have had a SCI for 10 years or more, (and have not had surgery for a pressure ulcer) call/sms or email Liz Dallaway 0498 599 097/ to find out more.

      1. Chen Y, DeVivo MJ, Jackson AB. Pressure ulcer prevalence in people with spinal cord injury: age-period-duration effects. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2005;86:1208-13.; Charlifue S, Lammertse DP, Adkins RH. Aging with spinal cord injury: changes in selected health indices and life satisfaction. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2004;85:1848-53.
      2 . Funded by the National Health & Medical Research Council of the Commonwealth Government of Australia.
      3. This does not replace a Seating Assessment provided by a qualified health professional.
      4. Assistive Technology & Seating clinic (Northern Sydney Local Health District) previously located at Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney.

      Monday, 14 April 2014


      Shower chair Commode study


      Emma Friesen of University of Queensland School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences is conducting a study to assess the usability of mobile shower commodes. The study involves completing two surveys on SurveyMonkey. The first survey is available @

      The study seeks the participation of people over 18 years old who have a spinal cord injury and use a mobile shower commode for showering and/or toileting.


      For more information about the study contact Emma

      Wednesday, 09 April 2014


      Private vehicle and trip planning research

      A study is being conducted by the UTS and OT Solutions private vehicle access, modification, and trip planning by people with disability.

      Participation is invited sought from

      • drivers with disability;
      • those who have a modified vehicle for themselves or a family member with disability for private transport purposes; and
      • those who would like a modified private vehicle but have been unable to obtain one.

      Read More »

      Monday, 07 April 2014


      Spinal cord injury in the media

      With the recent injury of Alex McKinnon, spinal cord injury has been talked about and discussed in the media and SCIA staff and clients have contributed to the conversation. Watch Dan Holt from the SCIA Peer Support Team on Nine News Sydney, Walk On client Alex Walker on the ABC's 7.30 Report and listen to SCIA CEO Peter Perry on 2ser FM - Real Radio The Wire program. Also read a subsequent article that appeared on ABC online following the 7.30 Report.

      Thursday, 03 April 2014


      Chronic Pain Australia Research Participant Database

      Are you interested in participating in research?

      If so, you might be interested in registering your details in a new Research Participant Database.

      Chronic Pain Australia is often asked by universities and other organisations to advertise research of interest to people with chronic pain, those who care about them, and/or healthcare professionals with an interest in pain. All such requests are considered by the Chronic Pain Australia research sub-committee to decide if a study is appropriate for the organisation to advertise.

      The aim of the database is to create a list of people interested in being contacted about research that might be of interest to them. This would include only research that has university or other appropriate ethical approval. Only members of the research sub-committee of the Chronic Pain Australia Board of Management will have access to the database and will contact you. At no time will access to the database or personal details to anyone outside the Chronic Pain Australia research sub-committee be provided.

      Please visit the Chronic Pain Australia website for more information and to register for the database.

      Monday, 24 March 2014


      Aged care and the NDIS are not interchangeable

      Tony Jones, a Policy and Advocacy Officer for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and an Advisor to Jan Barham MLC, Greens NSW MP, has written an opinion piece for ABC’s Ramp Up about aged care and the NDIS.

      Tony explores the implications of supports for people over 65 who acquire a disability being provided by the aged care sector instead of the NDIS.

      He concludes that, “If people who acquire a disability after age 65 are to have an engaged and fulfilling life, three main issues will need to be addressed: suitable support to remain in the home and engage in the community, workforce support for those able to remain in employment, including working with employers to find ways to recruit and retain older workers with a disability, and adequate mainstream support to reduce the pressures through housing, healthcare and welfare.

      "These concerns require a broad public policy approach from all levels of government and agencies. The demands will be beyond the scope of the aged care sector alone to address.”

      You can read the full article here.

      Thursday, 20 February 2014


      People with spinal cord injuries maximising life choices

      Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka today visited Spinal Cord Injuries Australia’s (SCIA) Walk On program in Lidcombe to see first-hand the support it provides to people with a spinal cord injury.

      “SCIA received more than $3 million in funding from the NSW Government this financial year to cover services including accommodation, medical crisis support, nursing care and the Walk On program,” Minister Ajaka said.  

      “Today I am experiencing the Walk On program first hand, including its intensive activity based exercise program. This offers paraplegics and quadriplegics the chance to regain function through personalised exercise programs aligned to people’s goals. 

      “With help from the program, each client is able to experience improvements in their physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing with some, amazingly even taking their first steps.”

      The Chief Executive of SCIA Peter Perry said Spinal Cord Injuries Australia is committed to finding effective ways for people with spinal cord injuries to be able to live lives no different from anyone else.

      “We help more than 90 clients per week get back on track after a spinal cord injury so they can become the masters of their own destiny, rather than recipients of care.

      “The Minister’s visit affords us an opportunity to demonstrate the amazing outcomes and progress made by our clients as well as to meet the team who make it all possible.”

      Minister Ajaka said it is wonderful to see the results which can be achieved by non-government organisations with the support of government funding.

      “SCIA not only make a difference to people’s lives in NSW, but their expertise is also recognised and accepted internationally,” he said.

      Thursday, 20 February 2014


      Safe Day Initiative

      A commitment to safety by Arrium Mining and Leighton Contractors has resulted in more than $50,000 being donated to charity.

      The companies joined forces to create an added focus on safety as part of the Magnetite Optimisation Project at Arrium Mining's South Middleback Ranges Concentrator site by adopting a 'Safe Day Initiative'. For every one of the project days completed safely, Arrium Mining and Leighton Contractors each contributed $100 to a fund to be distributed to nominated charities.

      Spinal Cord Injuries Australia was the major recipient, receiving 30 per cent of the proceeds. 

      SCIA client Charles Brice represented SCIA to accept the generous donation generated by this fantastic initiative.

      Click here to read the the Wyalla News article about the project.

      Wednesday, 12 February 2014


      PDCN survey of EnableNSW's PADP program

      4 February 2014

      The Physical Disability Council of NSW (PDCN) ran a survey between August-October 2013 which was completed by over 140 people who were clients of EnableNSW's Program of Appliances for Disabled People (PADP) which provides equipment, aids and appliances (commonly known as assistive technology). PADP services were centralised a few years ago with the aim of ensuring there were uniform policies and procedures for all eligible people throughout NSW, and to create some efficiencies in the system of which any financial savings would be used for PADP, and although the waiting times were initially reduced dramatically it is unfortunate that there are reports of waiting times exceeding 18 months. Please read the survey here. 

      Tuesday, 04 February 2014


      Transport accessibility in Australia today

      Greg Killeen, disability advocate and part of the SCIA Policy and Advocacy team, looks into the accessibility of transport services in major Australian cities in a three piece series for the ABC's Ramp Up Website.

      Part 1 - In the first article of this 3-part series, he focuses on the most common modes of public transport - buses, trains and trams.

      Part 2 - In the second article of this 3-part series, he focuses on coaches, charter buses and dedicated school buses.

      Part 3 - The final article of this 3-part series looks into taxis and related services.

      Friday, 24 January 2014


      Jerome Wong to drive modified vehicle from London to Cape Town

      Jerome Wong and Jessica

      One of our adventurous fundraisers Jerome Wong is featured on the front page of the Hornsby Advocate. Jerome and his partner Jessica will drive a modified 4WD from London to Cape Town and are fundraising for SCIA to help other people with a spinal cord injury.

      To support Jerome with his fundraising please visit: can read the article here.

      Tuesday, 21 January 2014

      Give Us Feedback Was this article helpful?