Peer & Family Support Team
Compassionate support when you need it most
Peer and Family Support Manager
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
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 from a car accident in 2013, leaving him a C6 complete quadriplegic. He grew up and lives on the Central Coast, NSW.
He appreciated the help that the Peer Support team gave him while in rehab. They helped him regain his independence and introduced him to the sport of Wheelchair Rugby. Their work inspired him to go into public speaking and facilitation work for programs at hospitals and schools. As Ben did this, he was also training hard at rugby and earnt a spot on the NSW Gladiators team in 2016. The following year, he was elevated to the Australian Steelers squad. He got a taste for the game at a national level, which allowed him to do a lot of domestic and international travel, which he enjoyed.
After a year on the national squad, he was put back to the state level but continued to develop for NSW. In the next couple of years, Ben started to explore different hobbies, including adapted surfing, swimming and going to live music/sports events. These hobbies kept him busy while doing public speaking and training. After returning from a month-long USA trip with friends in 2019, Ben was aware of a spot available for application to join the Peer Support team. He jumped at the opportunity as he knew it would be a very fulfilling role and remembered how much they helped him in the past.
Ben has loved it since starting and continues to diversify his role by taking on new responsibilities, such as becoming a Facilitator of The Engage program. He still plays rugby for NSW and was recently elevated to the Australian Development squad. He also enjoys going to the gym, playing the electronic drums, walking his assistant dog Lucy, watching NRL/NFL/UFC and travelling.
New South Wales
Jason sustained an incomplete T12 injury in 2001 from an MVA. At the time, he was the sole parent to his 10-year-old daughter. She has grown into a successful businesswoman and gifted Jason with two gorgeous granddaughters.
Jason provides Peer and Family Support throughout the Sydney-based Spinal Injury Units, Newcastle and Hunter regions. He finds it rewarding to help clients reach their goals and encourages them to become as independent as possible, drawing from his lived experience.
In his spare time, he enjoys the time with his family and participating in the Sailability program. Jason also loves fishing, rugby league and cricket.
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.”
Community Peer and Family Support Team Leader – Australian Capital Territory
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 the last 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.
Lachlan sustained a C4 spinal cord injury in October 2013, aged 17.
Immediately after his injury, when all of his friends had started university and were working, Lachlan didn’t have the confidence or skills to do that because of his injury.
When he was offered the position to join SCIA, he jumped at the opportunity. The idea of providing support to people who were once in his position in the early days of a spinal cord injury, as he was once supported, was an incredible opportunity. Not only could he add value to the lives of the people around him who were going through stages which I’d been, it added a structure to his life which he hadn’t had before.
Lachlan looks after our CHOICES house in Perth, and does community peer support for people who have recently been discharged from Fiona Stanley Hospital
Gaining meaningful employment has added huge amounts of benefit to his life, he can wake up and can fill his day with purposeful activities, while helping people.
Lachlan is currently undertaking a Diploma of Counselling, using some of the skills he has picked up at SCIA to help more people.
Before her injury Anne was very heavily into her physical fitness, she was an avid road cyclist, and was busy preparing for the 2007 Half Ironman triathlon – while training on her bike, she had an accident which resulted in a C6/7 Tetraplegia.
Anne looks after our CHOICES house in Perth, and does community peer support for people who have recently been discharged from Fiona Stanley Hospital
Anne has travelled to Israel, Germany and Switzerland visiting family and enjoying all the sights that are accessible. She has a Border Collie, that keeps her busy, requiring her attention more often than not.