Spinal Life Australia has received funding to build an innovative centre in Cairns that will provide specialist services for people with spinal cord damage and other physical disabilities.
The $12 million centre will be the first of its kind in Far North Queensland and regional Australia, offering short-term accessible accommodation, allied health services and training.
The funding was announced today (Friday 4 August) as part of the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund Infrastructure Projects Stream which provides grants for projects that will create jobs, drive economic growth and build stronger regional communities.
Spinal Life Australia Chief Executive Officer Michael Powell said after construction, around 80 direct staff were expected to be employed by the centre; creating new and ongoing community sector jobs in the region and contributing $196 million including flow-on into the local economy over the life of the project.
“We are investing in projects that will improve much-needed access to our specialist services, so we can support people closer to home,” Mr Powell said.
“There will also be training opportunities for personal support workers and allied health professionals across the region, which is particularly important for remote Indigenous communities.”
Mr Powell said the centre would allow residents to make the most of funding received through the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which will begin rolling out in the region on 1 July 2018.
He said on average 90 Queenslanders each year sustained a spinal cord injury, including 15 from Far North Queensland.
“When someone sustains a spinal cord injury, they often have to spend many months away from home, as Queensland’s only Spinal Injuries Unit is based in Brisbane,” he said.
“This centre will allow people who experience an injury or physical disability to leave hospital sooner and return to their family and community connections, with support to assist with this transition and into the future.
“It will also provide better access to our allied health services with more staff and dedicated consultation rooms for physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing and more.
“These are ongoing services that people with spinal cord damage and other physical disabilities need throughout their lives, allowing them to be independent and participate in their communities.”
Mr Powell thanked the Federal Government, Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash and Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch for their support in recognising the need for specialist services and accessible accommodation in the region.
“This project will improve outcomes for people across the Far North, giving them the chance to live the life they choose and support them to do more, whatever that may be,” he said.
The development site is on the corner of Lake and Smith Streets, chosen for its proximity to Cairns Hospital and other valuable health services, as well as the Esplanade.