SCIA-agm FINALSpinal Cords Injury Australia announced a busy timetable of programs at its AGM in Sydney recently. Speaking to F2L following the meeting, CEO, Peter Perry said the organisation is constantly looking at developing new programs in addition to other suggestions that members would like to see put in place.

There are also expansion plans to its raft of existing programs that includes the recent purchase of a Sydney property that will serve as a permanent home for Choices. This initiative allows members to take short trips out of rehabilitation to spend time in the community with their families. SCIA assists with travel, accommodation and care  costs for those taking part.

Speaking about its popular grants scheme, Perry said the big advantage with this is that there is no waiting time. “If there is a problem whether it is for the purchase of say new equipment, respite care or house repairs, we try and fix it as quickly as possible.” The scheme is funded by the NSW Government and gives of people with SCI the opportunity to apply for a grant up to the value of $2000.

Perry also discussed the issues people with disability face getting work. While Perry accepts that the concept of the NDIS is fantastic and “obviously we are big supporters of the scheme” he said there are challenges and one of these is getting people with disability into the workforce.” We have to ensure the workforce is there and the organisation is responsive. I think a lot of organisations tailor things to suit their business and not their clients.” Perry’s view is that it will take much longer than five years for the NDIS roll out to be completed.

When it comes to employment the SCIA Workforce has a good track record with 15 people with SCIA getting jobs in the past year. All of them are still working in the companies that employed them, which goes beyond national and international trends. (See our article on disability employment in this issue of the newsletter.)

Chris Nicholls, general manager for Transitional Services, also spoke at the AGM about the accomplishments of project like Teamsafe. The accident prevention scheme involves a staffer talking to the building industry, particularly when it comes to those working with heights, and getting the message on injury prevention across to workplaces.  Teamsafe also visits schools on SCI prevention.

On the social front, the Adventures program which has been designed to break down isolation and foster friendships is in for some changes in 2015. “After speaking to groups of the younger guys in the rehab units we found the more intrepid among them want to participate in something more exciting in in 2015,” Nicholls said. Social events of a more sedate nature for the less adventurous will still be on the calendar though.

Caption: SCIA CEO Peter Perry with Transitional Services GM, Chris Nicholls.