Who we are and what we do

The Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is elected by the Members of the organisation for a two year period with half standing down annually. There are also two Invited Directors, who are chosen for their particular skills or experience. The Board is ultimately responsible for the governance and performance of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia. 

The Board consists of an elected President, a Chairman (these may be the same person), and other Directors. The maximum size of the Board is nine. Persons with disabilities constitute a majority of the board. 

All Directors operate in a voluntary capacity. They meet at least once a month. In addition, many of them serve on sub-committees of the Board, which look at specific areas of operation or issues of interest, eg Member Issues, Finance, Planning, Governance, Policy Development and Legal Issues.

The Charter of Board Operations.

The Chief Executive Officer 

The management of SCIA is delegated to the Chief Executive Officer who has overall responsibility for all areas of operation. The Chief Executive Officer is accountable to the Board and reports directly to the Board on the organisation’s monthly activities and advises the Governance and Finance Sub-Committee of the Board on policy and strategic direction issues.


Our History

1966 - The beginning

  • In 1966, a group of young people with severe spinal cord injuries had been living in the spinal injuries ward of Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney for over six years. A strong spirit of determination to become more independent had developed amongst the group and as newly injured people entered the hospital, the 'veterans' spurred on the newer people to be equally self-reliant. During that same year the group was advised that the ward was soon to be closed and everyone would be transferred to the newly established spinal injuries unit at Prince Henry Hospital, Little Bay. Soon after their arrival they learned that their beds were needed for newly injured people and that they would gradually be transferred to a geriatric nursing home. They were desperate to find an alternative. With the help of social worker Gary Garrison, and supported by Dr George Burniston, friends, and other people with severe physical disabilities, they set out to form their own organisation and provide their own accommodation. On 4 September 1967 the Australian Quadriplegic Association (AQA) was constituted in the spinal unit of Prince Henry Hospital and became a registered charity in November of that year.
  • The Association’s major objectives at this time were accommodation, care and the need to promote unity between people with quadriplegia, provide recreational activities and raise sufficient funds to enable the building of accommodation and employment facilities. 
  • The founding members were Trevor Annetts, Tom Clarke, Graeme Dunne, David Fox (AQA’s First President), Peter Harris, George Mamo, Jim McGrath, Robert McKenzie, Alan Moore, John Munday, Cecil Murr, John Wenburn, Brian Shirt, Paul Sorgo, Stan Wanless, and Warren Mowbray. 


  • Establishment of the Australian Quadriplegic Association


  • Beds allocated at Bon Accord nursing home, Coogee, for people with quadriplegia to transfer from Prince Henry Hospital
  • In 1969 the Association was granted a lease on land adjacent to Prince Henry by the NSW Health Commission and the Department of Lands where it was planned to erect their dream - an accommodation facility for people with quadriplegia to be called the “Wheelchair Villa”.


  • Grant of Crown Land at Little Bay


  • Constitution changed to include people with severe disabilities, not just spinal cord injured


  • AQA is incorporated under the Companies Act, maintaining a unique clause in its Constitution to ensure that it would remain in the control of people with disabilities. The Association strongly believed that people with disabilities best understood their own requirements and even today, Spinal Cord Injuries Australia is one of the few charities in this country which requires that a majority of its Board of Directors be people with disabilities
  • At this stage the Association’s activities were carried out from a verandah of the nursing home where many of the original group still lived. Increasing files and paperwork began to constitute a “fire hazard” and AQA’s Board decided to channel accumulated funds into the construction of a headquarters/employment centre on the Little Bay site originally intended for the Wheelchair Villa. Construction was completed in September 1976.


  • AQA's first transitional accommodation premises leased - Ashton House nursing home in Maroubra
  • Little Bay centre completed


  • First issue of Quad Centre magazine published


  • Quad Centre magazine name changed to Quad Wrangle


  • Ashton House residents produce the Wheeling Free radio program on 2SER FM


  • AQA involved with NSW RTA pilot scheme to code traffic accidents
  • First funded peer support worker employed
  • AQA Victoria established. Now an incorporated body registered in Victoria and operating autonomously


  • Kimberley Lodge purchased. Unlike Ashton House the facility is not staffed and is managed completely by the residents
  • Stuart House (named after Wendy Stuart) leased
  • RTA coding contract begins with Geo & Data and continues today


  • First regional services office established in Wollongong
  • Mascot office opened for commercial operations


  • Regional service established in Bathurst


  • House in Coffs Harbour leased
  • Emergency service in Sydney Eastern Suburbs begins


  • Purpose built house in Dapto leased


  • Peer support services established


  • AskAQA! information service launched
  • Presentation to AQA on rights and political action by American disability advocates


  • Workforce employment placement service begins
  • House in Chatswood leased


  • AQA instigates the establishment of the Physical Disability Council of NSW


  • AQA website launched
  • House in Ryde funded under the NSW Government's ventilator dependent protocol


  • Ashton House closed
  • Nagle House and Anzac House transitional residences open in Maroubra
  • Out of hours nursing service launched as part of Ashton House transition plan for clients in Randwick and Botany LGAs


  • Commercial operations and Workforce move from Mascot to Alexandria


  • AQA members vote to change name to Spinal Cord Injuries Australia
  • Quad Wrangle changes name to Accord


  • Peer support becomes a fully professional service working with metropolitan spinal units


  • The SCI Ambassador program launched along with innovative new injury prevention programs: Teamsafe (Injury prevention in the workplace) and Wheelies Challenge (Education in schools)


  • First Walk On facility opens in Brisbane in partnership with the Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association of Qld


  • The second Walk On facility begins in Sydney in partnership with The University of Sydney
  • Flexible Respite and Transitional support programs established to assist approximately 60 people each year
  • SCIA begins delivering the Discovering the Power in Me program - specifically tailored to the needs of people who experience traumatic injury


  • Walk On Perth commences operation
  • The CHOICES apartment opens in Breakfast Point, Sydney. A place where people (along with family and friends) who are undergoing inpatient rehab following a spinal cord injury, can stay for up to 7 days at a time


  • Walk On launched in Melbourne
  • SCIA success at the NSW Disability Industry Innovation Awards with two of our staff members receiving awards and our CHOICES apartment a finalist in the Innovation in Independent Living Award
  • Coffs Harbour House opens for people to use for holiday or respite accommodation
  • SCIA Adventures program starts for people with SCI to try out new activities, go to different places and attend special events.
  • SCIA holds the first Independence Expo at Sydney Olympic Park. Opportunity for people to see an extensive range of products, services and resources all under the one roof.
  • Regional office established in Tamworth


  • Our Flexible Respite and Transitional support programs close and open again as the SCIA Grant Scheme
  • Office opens in Central West for regional officer previously operating from a home office 
  • Northern Rivers office moves into new premises 


  • The second SCIA Independence Expo is held at the Australian Technology Park in Sydney 
  • Purchase of a property in Gymea which will be developed as the new CHOICES house  
  • The CHOICES apartment in Breakfast Point, Sydney closes and reopens again in Little Bay. The apartment in Little Bay will be available for people to stay while the house in Gymea is being developed
  • The SCIA Adventures program changes to become a Social Events program  
  • The Australian Spinal Injury Alliance, representing eight of Australia’s state-based spinal cord injury organisations, including SCIA, 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).


  • SCIA takes over the running of the Burn Rubber Burn Program. The program provides affordable and accessible exercise in gyms across Sydney for people with physical disabilities. 
  • SCIA forms a partnership with the National Rugby League (NRL). The partnership will help provide assistance to players who sustain catastrophic injuries. 


  • Our very successful Walk On and Burn Rubber Burn programs are rebranded as NeuroMoves
  • NeuroMoves opens in Adelaide


  • NeuroMoves opens in Lismore

The SCIA Story

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia was established in 1967 by a group of young men who wanted to change the world. These men, who were hospitalised at the time due to spinal cord injuries caused by traumatic accidents, faced a future with just two options: continuing hospitalisation, or relocation to a nursing home designed for older people approaching the end of their lives. Please read more....

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