Our team is here to support you in challenging times – to get in touch, contact us.
Our Peer Support team use their lived experiences to provide guidance, mentorship and connections for people with spinal cord damage.
Life with spinal cord damage comes with a unique set of challenges and often the best advice comes from others who have lived through those challenges themselves.
From advice on managing pressure areas, bladder and bowel issues and how to stay connected to family, friends and the wider community, our Peer Support team are happy to talk to you about anything, with no question too personal.
This support is available at any stage of your life journey, from hospital to home and in the community.
By becoming a member of the Spinal life Peer Support community, you can also get involved in regular Peer Support Catch-up events and advocacy opportunities with our team and others from your region with lived experience.
You can also join our safe, welcoming and private online community to share advice with other people around Australia with spinal cord damage at our Peer Support Facebook page.
Our Peer Support Officers
Our Peer Support network is made up of people across Queensland and Western Australia with unique lived experiences in spinal cord damage.
If there isn’t a Peer Support officer in your region, it doesn’t mean our team is out of reach – we can still connect you to someone to speak with.
Click the images below to learn more about each team member and their own thoughts on peer support is important.
You can also contact us at 1300 774 625 to learn more about connecting with our team.
The Queensland Peer Support team
Col is one of the Peer Support team’s longest serving members, having been part of the team since 2004.
After sustaining his spinal cord injury at the young age of 18, Col has gone on to live a life packed full of adventure and major life events, working as a goat farmer, draftsman, bookkeeper, maths tutor, manager and more as well as going through marriage, kids and building his own home.
Along with Katie, Col frequently visits the Spinal Injuries Unit at Princess Alexandra Hospital to talk with patients with newly acquired spinal injury.
In Col’s own words:
“With everything I’ve achieved in my life, people are surprised I’m not 400 years old.
“Even after everything I’ve achieved since sustaining a spinal cord injury, I believe the best is yet to come and I have great expectations for my future.”
Katie’s passion for fitness and mental health means she’s constantly pushing her boundaries by trying something different or learning something new every day.
Katie says she’s motivated by keeping a positive attitude and educating herself.
When she’s not spending time with her three daughters and husband Jimmy, Katie uses her experiences to help guide others with newly acquired injury.
Katie often works with patients of the Spinal Injuries Unit at Princess Alexandra Hospital to share advice on life after injury.
In Katie’s own words:
“I give everything a go and never let my disability define who I am or what I’m capable of.
“It’s important to stay positive and push the boundaries of what you’re capable of and I want to inspire others to adopt that same philosophy.”
When singer and entertainer Tim first sustained quadriplegia in a diving accident, the doctors told him he would never sing again like he used to.
With determination and plenty of practice, Tim now sings better and louder than ever and went on to gain nation-wide attention during his show-stopping performance on The Voice in 2005.
In Tim’s own words:
“One of the most important things I’ve learnt about living with a spinal cord injury is that you can’t do everything on your own and you need to not be afraid of asking for help sometimes.
“Accessing Peer Support and being able to use the advice and guidance of people with lived experience is an invaluable way to learn to accept your injury and plan your goals and look to the future ahead.”
When Lindsay found little peer support available when he sustained his spinal cord injury in 1993, he started his own, talking with and sharing experiences with both old and new patients at the spinal injury unit.
Lindsay getting out of his comfort zone and going on a ski trip just six months after he left hospital helped to boost his confidence as just the first of many travel adventures to come.
In Lindsay’s own words:
“A spinal cord injury is life changing – it helps to have someone to share your ideas, worries and life goals with and someone you can trust as a shoulder to learn on.
“An important lesson I’ve learnt about life with a spinal cord injury is that you can still achieve your goals, it’s only the way you achieve them that changes.”
Katie enjoys catching up with her friends and family, playing cards, watching movies, football and keeping her mind active through study.
Katie says the most important thing she’s learned about living with a spinal cord injury is that you can still accomplish your goals and live a fulfilling and meaningful life.
In Katie’s own words:
“I believe peer support is very important in the journey to accept and overcome a major life changing event.
“I’m looking forward to supporting others to transition through the challenges they may face in their lives and to developing life-long associations with people from the spinal community.”
Rohan loves a challenge and pushing his limits, whether he’s at the gym or playing para sports.
His limits were certainly tested when in just a few months after leaving the Spinal Injuries Unit, he found himself skydiving out of a plane at 14,000 feet in the air!
In Rohan’s own words:
“Having people around you that have been through what you’ve going through can be very informative and comforting.
“One of the most important things I’ve learnt from my injury is patience – just because others are healing faster or achieving their goals sooner doesn’t mean that your time won’t come.”
Ben feels just as home going out bush walking in his all-terrain chair as he does spending a quiet night at home writing or on the PlayStation.
Ben has also worked as a presenter on our SEAT team and shared messages of safety and spinal injury awareness with Queensland school students.
In Ben’s own words:
“Communicating with the wider community can be essential when you have spinal cord damage – it’s important to have links to the world outside and Peer Support can be one of those links.
“One of the most useful things I’ve learnt about living with spinal cord damage is that you don’t need to do it alone.”
Lachy strives to always see the positive in any situation – after sustaining a traumatic spinal cord injury, he used the opportunity to build connections with fellow patients and rebuild relationships with family and friends.
He loves keeping active and is always willing to try something new, anything from wheelchair tennis, para ice hockey or learning a new musical instrument.
In Lachy’s own words:
“I was encouraged and inspired by the Peer Support officers who visited the unit when I was in hospital and I’m still encouraged and inspired every time I meet with other spinal cord injury survivors and hear their stories.
“The understanding, empathy and advice you receive from someone with lived experience is so important in keeping positive.”
Reece loves being actively and enjoys going to the beach, gym or sporting events as well as exploring new adventures.
While he’s happy to give advice and share his experiences with others with spinal cord damage, he enjoys learning from others and their own experiences.
In Reece’s own words:
“Peer support is important for many people, whether as a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on or a voice to listen to boost confidence or help point in the right direction.
“Everyone is different and no matter the injury or situation, everyone has their good times and bad and every day is a new day.”
Tim knows what it’s like to first have a newly acquired spinal cord injury and joined the Peer Support team to help others going through what he once went through.
In his spare time, Tim enjoys playing wheelchair tennis and is looking to try more para sports in the future.
In Tim’s own words:
“As good as nurses and doctors are at providing advice, sometimes people need to speak to someone who knows what they’re going through.”
Louisa believes that patience is the most important thing about living with spinal cord damage, followed by taking each day as it comes.
You can often find her spending time with her grandchildren or in the garden.
In Louisa’s own words:
“Just being able to talk to someone who has been through what you’re feeling can help you better prepare for what’s ahead.
“It’s a very confronting time and being able to talk and vent with someone who knows what you’re going through is a useful part of the healing process.”
Since sustaining a spinal cord injury, Dane has gone on to travel around the world, secure full-time employment, start his own business, met and married his wife and started a family.
He shares his many adventures and travels with his family on the Instagram account Cross Family Adventures
In Dane’s own words:
“I want to use my own experiences to assist others in achieving their own life goals and help them learn, while a spinal injury may be life-changing, it’s not life-ending.
I’ve found that speaking with someone else with lived experience is a source of practical knowledge you often can’t find in a textbook, or even from a health professional.”
The Western Australian Peer Support team
For years, Jodi ran informal peer support group for Western Australians living with the rare condition Transverse Myelitis but jumped at the opportunity to work with Spinal Life to provide peer support to a wider network of people with spinal cord damage.
Jodi is Perth born and raised and loves living just a few minutes away from the beach, which she describes as the perfect place to enjoy the salty air, sunshine and plenty of dog spotting!
In Jodi’s own words:
I didn’t have access to peer support when I was in hospital at the age of 13 – now that I’m older, I realise how important it is to have someone to talk to who understands what I’m going through.
Each day living with spinal cord damage is different, so you should not be afraid to ask questions, take control of your health and wellbeing and, of course, always be prepared for the unexpected!
Jane says the best things in life are usually found outside of your comfort zone, something she discovered for herself when she first tried wheelchair ballroom dancing.
Despite some early nerves, Jane found it was love at first dance and in just a few months, she went on to compete in the national championships in Melbourne!
In Jane’s own words:
“Something important I’ve learnt about living with spinal cord injury, and something that I struggled with myself, is that it’s always okay to ask for help sometimes, no matter how independent you are.
“It’s also important to be patient– what seems impossible today may be possible tomorrow!”
Karen knows sustaining a spinal cord injury can leave you feeling down and lost initially but, with purpose and goals, you can still live an enjoyable and fulfilling life.
She keeps herself active by going to the beach or going for a ride on her handcycle, but also enjoys a bit of quiet time on the couch at home watching Netflix.
In Karen’s own words:
“There are times when only someone with the lived experience of having a spinal cord injury themselves can understand what you’re going through and offer advice and solutions to get you back on your way.
“I want to help lift others when they’re down and help them find solutions to become the best person they can be.”
Chelsey is used to difficult conversations, having talked with people about anything from sustaining a spinal cord injury to end-of-life treatment discussions from her work in aged care homes.
Through it all, Chelsey stays positive and believes that strong relationships and communication can help encourage good will and good attitude through some of the more challenging moments in life.
In Chelsey’s own words:
“Being able to learn from others who have experienced similar struggles is endearing and empowering and I love building strong relationships through understanding, trust, humour and compassion.
“At the end of the day, we all have something to bring to the table!”
As a life-long Western Australian, Douglas loves where he lives and says he’s never running out of new things to discover in his state.
When he’s not exploring what WA has to offer, you can find Douglas in his garage at home working at restoring his beloved 1968 GTO Pontiac o down at the local Men’s Shed watching the AFL with friends.
In Douglas’ own words:
“As a Peer Support Officer, I want to help others with spinal cord damage to realise their potential and live a full life.
“I’m a handy person with a wealth of knowledge which I hope can make a difference in helping others achieve their goals.”