18 APAC / April 2017 , 1702AP37 Spinal Life Australia: The Backbone of Disability Support Spinal Life Australia is a non-profit organisation that provides expert knowledge, specialised therapies and supports tailored for people with spinal cord damage and other physical disabilities. We spoke to the organisations Business Development Manager to explore the secrets behind its success. Established in 1960, Spinal Life has grown from a small membership group into one of Australia’s leading disability providers, with over 2000 members and clients. The organisation provides a wide range of services for individuals, designed to help rehabilitate them and allow them to live a life of quality. These include help to establish service routines and structure support arrangements; personal care and domestic assistance; transition support from hospital to home; and lifestyle support to attend appointments and events. Clients also have access to additional services and expertise including advocacy, when they need someone to provide advice and represent their needs; peer support and member networks for practical advice and access to like-minded people to share experiences and reliable information on issues, trends and latest technologies for people with physical disability. The organisation partners with local businesses, government and the wider community to ensure clients receive the support they need to live a happy and fulfilled life. “Here at Spinal Life, our philosophy is to work with clients and make decisions together to pioneer solutions that meet their needs and create more possibilities for their life. This philosophy extends to the development of events and partnerships that will build an understanding or capability which enhances independence, equity and inclusion. “Similarly, our specialised allied health professionals (physiotherapists, occupational therapists and registered nurses) bring an advanced understanding of the needs of people with physical disability and offer a valued integrated approach to finding holistic solutions for good health. “When required, clients are also encouraged to choose their own advocate to champion their issues or causes. Advocates may be used during assessments, reviews, and feedback, or for any other communication. We believe protecting and promoting our client’s safety and wellbeing is a key priority.” Recently a change was made to Spinal Life’s constitution allowing anyone, 18 years of age and older to become an ordinary member. This means that membership is no longer limited to individuals who have acquired spinal cord damage, either by accident or disease including polio and transverse myelitis. A variety of different individuals including family members, relatives and advocates for people with disability are joining the organisation’s member base. Supporting such varied clientele requires a dedicated team of professionals all committed to excellence. “At Spinal Life Australia, we know and understand that it’s our people that make us who we are; they are the reason we have built a strong reputation across Queensland and nationally. As such, we only employ people who are passionate about what we do and who want to make a difference in the lives of our members and clients. “Our team comprises of talented, engaged and positive professionals with specialised knowledge and skills. To ensure the ongoing success of both our organisation and our staff as individuals, we are committed to developing and retaining talented staff who can help us achieve our vision of being recognised as a leader in community and disability services. We offer a range of initiatives that promote our unique values and reinforce the positive culture we need to succeed.” This focus on driving staff to offer the very highest standards of service is vital as new regulations have increased the amount of competition for organisations such as Spinal Life. With significant changes to the market, through the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIISQ), funding for supports and services is being directed away from service providers and being allocated to individuals who will be given the opportunity to select their own support services. This open and unregulated market removes entry barriers for commercial enterprises and international businesses. However, it is Spinal Life’s vast industry experience and network of contacts that sets it apart and continues to drive it towards success.