Peer & Family Support Team
Compassionate support when you need it most
Peer and Family Support Manager – New South Wales
Rob became an incomplete T1-T5 paraplegic after the surgical removal of a spinal cord tumour in 2008. Through sheer determination (and lots and lots of physiotherapy), he was able to get back on his feet and, with the aid of electronic orthotics and a pair of crutches, he is now able to stand and walk again.
He has a passion for swimming and aims to get in the water every week, in between driving his kids to and from school and enjoying lots of other typical fatherly duties.
Rob leads the Peer and Family Support team, nationally, and sees his role as a way to give back after his rehabilitation; to thank those who helped him during his recovery.
He loves Star Wars and travelling. In the last few years he’s travelled around the USA, most recently visiting Hawaii.
Team Leader – New South Wales
Dan sustained his injury in 2008 after a fall left him a C5/6 quadriplegic. He’s been a key part of the SCIA Peer Support team since 2013, offering his honest and sincere wealth of knowledge to a great many patients, helping them find a new way forward.
Dan is a keen member of the NSW GIO Gladiators Wheelchair rugby team, and has a strong passion for all sports, live music and traveling the world.
Every week you can catch Dan and his trusty sidekick and assistance dog, Charlie, as they do the rounds of many of Sydney’s spinal wards.
New South Wales
In 2000, Jess sustained an incomplete C6-T3 walking quad injury after a motor vehicle accident with her sister.
Since her injury, Jess has become a silver medallist whilst competing for the Australia Junior World Championships for wheelchair basketball. She’s also enjoyed playing at senior level.
Jess loves to travel, and recently spent a month in Los Angeles, enjoying a Disneyland and California adventure which included a visit to Universal Studios.
On weekends, Jess loves having brunch in one of the many hipster coffee shops in her neighbourhood and playing basketball with an LGBT-friendly stand up crew!
New South Wales
Branka sustained a T10 incomplete SCI as a pillion passenger on a motorbike more than 25 years ago. Not letting it stop her one bit, immediately after her injury Branka graduated from a Bachelor of Commerce and later completed a Graduate Diploma in Counselling. Before commencing work with SCIA, she gained valuable experience working in SCI prevention, as well as dealing with “at risk” youth through her work in health services.
Branka has a real passion for sport and was delighted to be a part of the Australian side during the World Team Cup Champions in 1999. She also won a silver medal in the women’s double tennis at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics.
Her greatest joy has been becoming a mother to young Xavier, now aged five and a half.
New South Wales
Ben sustained his SCI as a result of a result of a car accident in 2013, leaving him a C6 complete quadriplegic. He grew up and lives on the Central Coast, NSW.
He is a former Australian and current NSW representative for the sport wheelchair rugby. He also enjoys going to the gym, swimming and doing public speaking.
New South Wales
Jason sustained his T12 incomplete paraplegic SCI from a motor vehicle accident in 2001.
His interests include deep sea fishing, rugby league, cricket and photography.
New South Wales
In 2016, Kate sustained multiple injuries when the horse she was riding at Warwick Farm was hit head-on by a rider-less horse, ending her decade long career in horse racing.
Kate’s own experiences enable her to give so much back to clients and she knows only too well what it feels like to be told “you will never walk again.”
She says that being part of the team and working for SCIA at the Royal Rehab hospital is extremely rewarding.
“I work hard to try to ensure that no one else ever feels the despair that I felt in those early days. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my experiences with the people who are scared of what is ahead & show them that life can still be great.”
Paediatric Peer and Family Support Coordinator – New South Wales
Dean is passionate about seeing kids and teens with disabilities living life in the best way they can and that’s why he works alongside people below the age of 18 and their families.
In 2012, Dean sustained a spinal injury in a diving accident injuring his C4-6 spinal cord. He is paralysed mostly on one side of his body but he is able to stand and walk short distances, but still needs to use his wheelchair everyday.
Dean has many interests from music to photography, cooking, gaming, travelling or just hanging out with his wife and friends, but he is known for his keen hobby in woodworking after building four guitars from scratch.
Lach sustained a C4/5 injury in 2013 after an accident at the beach. He was born and raised in Perth and loves going to NeuroMoves, the footy and live music.
Anne became an incomplete C6 – C7 spinal cord injury following a fall from a road bike, while training for the Busselton half ironman back in 2007. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to the movies and overseas trips to visit her daughter.
Australian Capital Territory
Patrick is our new Peer and Family Support Coordinator in Canberra.
His experience with spinal cord injury is slightly different to the other members of the Peer and Family Support Team. He was born with Spina Bifida, a neural tube defect, 29 years ago, which presents as a L4-L5 incomplete paraplegic injury, and has been using a manual wheelchair full time for 18 years.
He has a passion for assistive technology and helping people with a disability, and prior to joining SCIA he worked for five years in the AT industry in Canberra as a scripted product specialist. He has future plans to study Occupational Therapy to further this passion.
He was born and raised in Canberra, and thinks that it’s the best city in the world. He loves spending time taking his dog Missy for a walk around the leafy suburbs, visiting cafés, pubs and restaurants with friends, and particularly loves pub trivia!
Patrick is a diehard Sydney Swans supporter and loves an eclectic range of music. His favourite artists are Bruce Springsteen, who he’s seen live four times, Hank Williams (Trivia fact: Hank also had spina bifida), and The Dropkick Murphys, but you’ll just as easily find him listening to classical music or Lady Gaga.