Our history

Spinal Injuries Australia was formed in 1960 and initially began as a public meeting of people with paraplegia and quadriplegia to advocate for their needs.

The Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Welfare Association, which later became the Spinal Injuries Association, began to provide advocacy, information and informal peer support to people with spinal cord injuries.

In March 2014, the organisation was renamed Spinal Injuries Australia, due to the transition from an Incorporated Association to a Company Limited by Guarantee.

Over the years, Spinal Injuries Australia has grown to become Queensland’s peak body for people with a spinal injury, due to its specialist knowledge and more than 50 years’ experience.

In the early days, our services focused on advocacy, healthcare and lifestyle advice, as well as personal assistance. These services continued to expand to include support networks for members and employment assistance, along with peer support to assist people and their families with the transition from the hospital to home and the community.

We remain dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with a spinal injury by providing our members and clients with the choice of a wide range of high-quality, specialised services.

Milestones and achievements

Spinal Injuries Australia has seen enormous change and growth over the years, particularly since 2000. There have been many significant milestones and achievements during this time and we’re enormously proud of our accomplishments and excited about the ongoing development of our organisation.

Read our 50-year milestone supplement.

2000 – 2001

  • Education and training package developed with Queensland Health about the late effects of polio for doctors and health professionals;
  • Received Community Award in the State Disability Access Week awards, along with the Community category of the Human Rights Medal and Awards in 2001;
  • SEAT presenter Wayne Leo wins Energex Volunteer Hero Award in 2001;
  • SEAT presenter Mark Farrell wins Suncorp Metway Young Queenslander of the Year in 2001.

2002 – 2003

  • Spinal Disability Resource Kit developed and distributed to the community and our members;
  • The organisation goes online with its first website;
  • SEAT tours Central Queensland mining towns.

2004 – 2005

  • The organisation officially opens our Townsville office in August 2004. The building was made possible due to the outstanding financial and community support from North Queensland individuals and organisations;
  • Governor of Queensland Ms Quentin Bryce AO becomes Patron of the organisation;
  • The Spinal Education Awareness Team (SEAT) visits its one millionth student to deliver its highly successful safety presentation;
  • The Peer Support program is introduced;
  • Change of name from Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Association of Queensland to the Spinal Injuries Association;
  • SEAT releases ‘Consequences’ safety DVD;
  • The organisation supports member to win Lawson v Stadium Redevelopment Authority to secure equitable seating at Lang Park;
  • Spinal Cord Injury Response (SCIR) funding introduced;
  • Classic Wallabies become Ambassadors (Wallaby great and SEAT Ambassador Tim Horan pictured above with SEAT presenter Wayne Horkings and John Paul College students).

2006 – 2007

  • Inaugural Classic Wallabies Luncheon;
  • SEAT celebrates 20 years of sharing vital injury prevention messages with Queensland school students;
  • SEAT receives the Community Organisation Award during Disability Action Week;
  • Our advocacy helps secure a $4.8 million State Government funding program for accessible taxi transport in regional Queensland.

2008

  • Peer Support Coordinator, Peter Harre, wins a finalist spot for the Pride of Australia Medal (pictured right);
  • SEAT presenter Tim Felhaber wins Queensland Young Volunteer Award;
  • SEAT releases ‘Nobody’s Bulletproof’ safety DVD;
  • Quality Assurance accreditation was gained to meet the Disability Services Act and funding requirements;
  • Inaugural Gala Fundraising Dinner in Brisbane and Cruise for a Cause in Townsville launched during Spinal Injuries Awareness Week;
  • Governor of Queensland Ms Penelope Wensley AO becomes Patron of our organisation;
  • Community Linking Program is introduced.

2009

  • Our new-look website is launched at www.spinal.com.au;
  • SEAT at WORK launched to deliver safety presentations in workplaces;
  • Peer Mentor program begins in Cairns and the Sunshine Coast;
  • The organisation holds its first ever Brisbane conference for members (pictured right).

2010

  • The organisation celebrates its 50th anniversary;
  • Patron and Governor of Queensland Ms Penelope Wensley AO attends 50th anniversary celebrations on 9 March, 2010 (pictured right); 
  • SEAT presenter Wayne Leo speaks to his 250,000th student;
  • We are actively involved in:
    • Blue Skies
    • The State Disability Services Minister’s 10 year vision
    •  National Disability Strategy
    •  National Disability Alliance
    •  The G8 group, which has representatives from eight of the largest disability service providers in Queensland
    • The development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

2011

  • Townsville hosts its inaugural ARTscape event, with local members and artists creating artwork ranging from paintings to dance pieces;
  • The Sunshine Coast Post Polio Network celebrated its 20th anniversary in July;
  • Support for the NDIS increases, with a DisabiliTea event in Brisbane’s CBD (our staff pictured at the NDIS Rally, right); 
  • The inaugural Take My Seat event is held in Townsville during Disability Action Week in September, with influential community and industry leaders spending a morning using a wheelchair.

2012

  • SEAT volunteers Wayne Leo and Scott Stidston are awarded Order of Australia Medals in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours List;
  • Celebrity chefs joined staff for ‘bake-offs’ in our Brisbane and Townsville offices, to show their support for a NDIS;
  • The modelsMembers are involved in a fashion collaboration with Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE students and model their designs at the students’ end of year fashion parade (pictured on the catwalk, right);
  • SEAT celebrates its 25th anniversary and reaches an amazing milestone – inspiring more than 1.5 million children to stay safe!

2013

  • Volunteers Des Ryan and Rod Walters are awarded Order of Australia Medals in the 2013 Australia Day Honours List.
  • In May, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is passed through Federal legislation and Queensland signs on to the scheme. Bill Ross leads the insightful panel discusson
  • Ambassador and Wallaby great Bill Ross (pictured right) is awarded an Order of Australia Medal in The Queen’s Birthday 2013 Honours List, announced on Monday, 10 June 2013. Bill’s work with the Classic Wallabies Rugby Lunches has raised $600,000 for the organisation in eight years.
  • On July 1, the NDIS is launched in four trial sites in South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales. The rollout will commence in Queensland in 2016 and be fully operational by 2019. Read more here.
  • The organisation is announced as a finalist in the National Disability Awards in the category of ‘Excellence in Improving Personal and Community Support Award’. Read more here.
  • President David Riley is announced as a state finalist in the running for Queensland Australian of the Year, as part of the 2014 Australian of the Year Awards. Read more here.

2014

  • In February, Erin Brockovich is officially welcomed as the Ambassador for the Peer Support Team;
  • In March, the Spinal Injuries Association is renamed Spinal Injuries Australia, due to the transition from an Incorporated Association to a Company Limited by Guarantee. Read more about the change.