Equipment, technology and wheelchairs

What does a person with spinal cord injury need in the way of equipment, aids and technology to live in the community? Needs may include manual or power wheelchairs, battery chargers, portable ramps, hoists, pressure relief cushions, clothing, continence equipment, adjustable beds, heating or cooling equipment, ventilators, physiotherapy, home automation, computer and other assistive technology, and vehicle modifications.

Funding

Aids and equipment schemes

The state and territory government equipment schemes provide access to a range of aids and equipment for eligible people. Eligibility requirements will vary, as will the types and variety of equipment. The programs include:

NDIS funding

Assistive technology which includes aids, equipment, wheelchairs and computer and communication technology is funded under the NDIS. To read how NDIS participants can access this funding please see the information SCIA has put together about the NDIS here.

Getting Assessments

You may require an Occupational Therapist (OT) to do an assessment of your equipment and modification needs. To find a private practice OT visit the Australian Association of Occupational Therapists website and search for an OT by Area of Expertise and Region or call their National office on (03 9415 2900) for a list of registered driver trained occupational therapists in your area.  

Equipment and modifications

Suppliers

  • (See SCIA's page on Continence care to find suppliers of continence products and related equipment)
  • AbilityMate - creating open-source designs for the most-needed assistive devices. Once designed we setup hubs where these devices can be 3D printed for a fraction of the cost, in your local area.
  • Active Mobility  
  • Aidacare  
  • Astris LifeCare
  • DEJAY
  • GTK
  • Independent Living Specialists -  SCIA is officially partnered with the Independent Living Specialists – one of Australia’s largest providers of homecare equipment and a leading provider of wheelchairs and seating equipment. SCIA members can receive free occupational therapist assessments and get a 10% discount off all homecare equipment. For any purchase of a power chair SCIA members will receive a complimentary gift worth nearly $900. Visit www.ilsau.com.au/scia to receive this (username and password required – contact SCIA for these details on 1800 819 775 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). 
  • IDEAS Equipment Suppliers Database - a comprehensive and easy to search collection of suppliers of equipment for people with disability.
  • Independent Living Centres have extensive catalogues of suppliers of specialist disability equipment. Some also have displays of a kitchen, bathroom and other household daily living equipment and accessories. Occupational therapists are available to consult on access and equipment needs:
    • New South Wales - (now called Assistive Technology Australia) Ph: 1300 885 886
    • Australian Capital Territory Ph: 02 6205 1900
    • Queensland Ph: 1300 885 886
    • South Australia & Northern Territory Ph: 1300 885 886
    • Tasmania Ph: 1300 885 886
    • Victoria Ph: 1300 885 886
    • Western Australia Ph: 1300 885 886, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Invacare
  • Magic Mobility
  • Megalong Positioning Service
  • Mogo Wheelchairs
  • Permobil Australia
  • Pride Mobility
  • Scooters Australia
  • Specialised Wheelchair Company
  • Sunrise Medical
  • Total Mobility
  • Unicare Health (WA)

Hiring Equipment

NSW

Interstate - nationwide distributers:

WA

Repairing equipment

NSW

WA

  • Calibre Care, Albany (previously known as River Abilities) - Wheelchair repair service. Ph: 08 9841 4200, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Mandurah Mobility - pick up and delivery service for wheelchair repairs. A service representative can also come to you if necessary. Ph: 08 9535 1211, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Guy's Mobile Wheelchair Service, Yangebup. Ph: 0410 480 481, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Rod Wyatt, Diverse Mobility, Bassendean. Ph: 0439 970 872, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Unicare Health - Offering purchase, rental and repairs.
  • Wheels2go in WA. The RAC have a new membership called 'Wheels2go' which offers roadside assistance for manual and electric wheelchairs. Ph: 13 17 03.

Buying and selling secondhand equipment

  • Ebility classifieds
  • Independent Living Centre - online
  • Trading Post, Gumtree and Ebay
  • Reusability
  • Rocky Bay Perth - refurbished equipment is available from Rocky Bay in Perth. You can browse their online shop or visit the warehouse between 9am-4pm Monday to Friday at 2/32 Horus Bend, Bibra Lake. Ph: 08 9494 2243, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Secondhand Rehab
  • Spire Newslink Newsletter (AQA Victoria) - classifieds page.

Services and Modifications

  • Ability Technology— provides a complete computer and home automation service for people with disabilities. Services include advice, assessments, customisation, training and technical support. 
  • Assistive Technology Mobility and Customised Seating - Cerebral Palsy Allliance —technology, seating, mobility, communication, computer access and environmental control to people with disabilities.
  • Dreamfit Foundation - WA - A not for profit organisation that focuses on providing equipment solutions that are not readily available, such as sourcing specialised equipment from overseas or custom designing and building equipment from the ground up. Ph: 08 9443 0211, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Northcott Assistive Technology Services - provides therapists to support people with disability to access and use a wide range of assistive technologies including computer-based devices and software, mobility aids, communication aids and modified equipment such as cutlery.
  • RAM Wheelchairs in Perth, WA - build custom-made manual wheelchairs and can also modify existing wheelchairs to your specific requirements. Contact 08 9331 2000,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • TAD Disability Services —custom making and modifying of disability products for people with disabilities if no commercial alternative exists. There are TAD offices in most States and Territories. Click on the map of Australia on the website to locate the TAD offices in your area.

Communication Technology

  • National Relay Service - relays calls between people who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment and the wider community 24 hours, every day of the year.
  • Technical Solutions Australia - specialising in electronics for people with disabilities.
  • Spectronics - Spectronics is Australia and New Zealand’s largest supplier of special needs software and assistive technologies.
  • Voice Recognition Software - Dragon Naturally Speaking.
  • Comtec (Victoria) -  ComTEC offers services throughout Victoria to people of all ages with a disability who have communication and technology needs. The ComTEC team consists of speech pathologists, occupational therapists and IT support with expertise in communication and technology for people with disabilities.
  • Vision Australia – Adaptive Technology. Includes information about technology such as talking and screen reading programs.

Keep up to date with new developments through SCIA's regular column in our magazine Accord on computer technology related subjects. 

Associations 

  • ARATA—Australian Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Association. ARATA’s purpose is to serve as a forum for information sharing and liaison between people who are involved with assistive technology. 
  • ATSA - Industry body representing the views and aspirations of assistive technology suppliers across Australasia.

Importing wheelchairs and other equipment - Duty and Tax issues

If you decide to import your own equipment, products that are made solely for people with disabilities are duty and GST free. For duty information see Schedule 4 Item 28 of the Customs Tarriff Act.  Items that are GST free are listed in Schedule 3 of the GST Act, and includes a wide range of products, from wheelchairs to continence equipment, specialist switches to page turners. Generic equipment and parts are not exempt however. For example, a wheelchair battery that can also be used in a golf cart; a computer or an air conditioner are not exempt, even though you might need them due to your disability.


GST exemption on purchasing a vehicle

A person with a disability can purchase a car GST-free if they are an eligible person with a disability. Click here for information on eligibility criteria and how to apply. 


Vehicle modifications

How and where to go to get your vehicle modified and what is involved in getting your licence to drive a modified vehicle. Read more.


Further reading and information

Please watch SCIA's What Next? videos on Wheelchair selection and Home automation and Assistive Technology.

Visit SCIA's SCI Resources Library - Equipment, Technology and Wheelchairs or to find publications, articles, websites and more.

Home modification information - Helpful information from SCIA about the process to get your home modified.

Spinalistips—Tips and tricks from people with spinal cord injuries.

SCI Pilot — Contains the assistive technology experiences and insights of individuals who have had a spinal cord injury. Rather than a catalogue of products, you'll find advice and strategies from those who have first hand experience in getting and using assistive devices, and descriptions of practical, homemade inventions that solve real-world problems.


Assistance dogs

Assistance dogs can help increase independence and reduce reliance on caregivers. They perform a wide range of tasks including: opening and closing cupboards, doors and refrigerators; picking up dropped items; retrieving items from tables, cupboards, drawers and people; loading and unloading frontloading washing machines; helping to remove clothing; pulling a basket on wheels; opening and closing wheelchair footplates; and adjusting blankets and doonas. Training programs will also meet any additional needs of recipients by teaching their dogs specifically requested tasks. Assistance dogs are placed with recipients following the successful completion of their puppy raising and advanced training programs.

Assistance dog

Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers are used in assistance dog programs due to their calm temperament and their willingness to work.

Organisations that train and provide assistance dogs in Australia are:

Assistance Dogs Australia 02 9548 3355 

Australian Support Dogs 1300 788 721 

Canine Helpers for the Disabled 07 3350 2090

Association of Australian Assistance Dogs (NQ) 07 4093 5265

Further reading and information

Please view SCIA's What Next? video on what is involved in having an assistance dog.

Visit SCIA's SCI Resources library - Assistance Dogs to find publications, articles, and more.


For further information on this or any other topic please call SCIA by phone on 1800 819 775 or email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or visit the SCIA Library.

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