Annual Report 2018

AQA Victoria Ltd

Our Vision

People Affected by Spinal Cord Injury have the opportunity to enjoy life

Our Mission

Our focus on life after spinal cord injury informs everything we do. Our services and programs can support all people who experience similar issues in their lives.

Our Values

Integrity - We act fairly, honestly, openly.

Respect - We respect people's lived experience, the choices they make, the aspirations they hold.

Excellence - We care about the quality and effectiveness of what we do.

Trust - we know how vital trust is in all our relationships.

Chairman and CEO Report

As Australia commenced the full roll out of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), back in 2016, we set ourselves four broad strategic objectives to help navigate the exciting and challenging period ahead. Welcome to our Annual Report for 2018; an opportunity to share the achievements of the year that are progressing our strategic objectives.

  1. Prepare and transition our existing services and programs to the emerging environment
  2. Explore opportunities to progress new services and programs that respond to the needs of our community
  3. Engage our workforce in what drives us and how their work can contribute to the opportunity to enjoy life
  4. Build the capacity of our systems and processes to support our place in a market environment

This year our report is offered online enabling us to link you to more detailed information about our services and development outcomes.

Chairman and CEO Report 2018

The Power of Peer Facilitated Supports

With over 30 years’ experience delivering peer-facilitated supports we believe that connecting people in the SCI community with someone that has faced similar challenges can be tremendously valuable.

This year we progressed from general peer support and peer mentoring to peer coaching. Still coming from the respected lived-experience perspective, the coaches’ aim is to support and guide people living with a SCI around specific areas of life – to set personal goals, frame expectations and work systematically to resource oneself to achieve them. This year we developed peer coaches around the domains of Health & Wellbeing and Employment.

Tailoring peer support around specific areas of life will provide people the additional support to further build their capacity - to take ownership, make informed decisions and develop their full potential.

"The single most important thing in helping me adapt to living quite happily and well is the mentoring I received"

- Mario D'Cruz

Our People / Our Stories

We work hard to attract and retain people who are driven by our mission and values and who will strengthen our innovative and dynamic workplace culture. During 2018 we continued to attract the right people to share in our vision and help achieve the organisations goals, while providing an environment in which people can grow and thrive.

Disability Support Workers

The emotional stresses and extra challenges faced by people living with a spinal cord injury (SCI) can have profound effects on their health and quality of life The power of the relationship between client and Disability Support Worker (DSW) can be paramount to community participation and achieving goals and outcomes in a person's life. The 14 year client DSW relationships between Angelo and Lisa is a perfect example of this, "if Angelo was no longer in my life, I would be devastated,” Lisa says. “I’m such an integral part of his life, and he of mine."

“Our Support workers care for us, they really do. We’re like sisters. Without them we’d be lying in bed all day.”

-Valerie Gear


Much of what we achieve as an organisation would not be possible without the support of our volunteers. At AQA, volunteers help us support and inform the lives of people living with a SCI by providing their skills and enthusiasm across a variety of areas and activities. Lived-experience volunteers support us in areas such as; peer-support, info services and community events. While project volunteers and interns help produce content that shares important stories and information from the community through blogs, articles & videos, much of which you see on the Spire website and Newsletter.

"I found peer support very useful, that's why I decided to give back by becoming a peer mentor volunteer" - Georgina

"I've been privileged to meet some very positive people and to share their stories. " - Richard

"I really enjoyed interacting with people of all different levels of injury and listening to their stories - how their injury hasn't stopped them living their life" - Tiana


Emerging Leader Award - Naz Erdem

This year Spire Team Leader, Naz Erdem was Awarded the Emerging Leader Award at the Victorian Disability Awards. The contributions Naz has made in supporting and encouraging people with a SCI to develop positive expectations of life, to pursue goals and to persist when challenged, is highly significant.

The Victorian Disability Awards celebrates individuals, teams, businesses and organisations that make outstanding contributions to empowering people with a disability and creating an inclusive and supportive community.

''The Victorian Disability Awards are very important for the community; for the special things that people do that aren't recognised in the mainstream''. - Naz Erdem


AQA is about connecting people around the issues that matter most to people living with a SCI or similar physical complex disability; whether it’s themselves, their families, friends and carers, or those who support them in different areas of life.

Everything we achieve as an organisation is a result of listening to the needs of our community and utilising the lived-experience perspective. This year we have continued to progress existing Community Networks as well as launch two new ones in the Mornington Peninsula and Traralgon. We have hosted events, activities, and expos, offered personal development opportunities and connected with our community through social media and blogs.

Utilising our insight and understandings of our community we aim to continuously develop targeted resources, services and opportunities that are resourced and supported by a diversity of lived-experience.


For the second year in a row, Spire was excited to take part in the 2018 Arnold Sports Festival. Held over three days at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, we had the opportunity to showcase and demonstrate Inclusive Sports at the world’s largest multi-sport and fitness festival.

This year we connected more organisations, making it a huge success for our community – exposing the wider public to the skills, abilities and capacity of inclusive sports athletes and raising awareness to the range of sports and activities available.


People sharing their own experiences of life with SCI, or similar complex physical disability, can bring enormous benefit to the lives of others who are living in similar circumstances.

In partnership with local SCI communities, we have established six regional networks and two community networks in Metro Melbourne - Professionals with Spinal Injury and Women with SCI.

By establishing, and then partnering with these networks, we aim to resource and support these networks to share their skills and knowledge, and to enhance their community participation.


We continue to co-facilitate monthly Family Peer-Support Groups which focus on topics such as relationships, carer supports and positive psychology, Movie Nights at the Royal Talbot and Leisure Outings for the in-patients.

We co-host What’s Out There Days where newly-injured spinal cord injury patients, and those who have been living with a SCI for some time, come together to interact and discuss the possibilities in life with a SCI. Earlier this year we also hosted a booth at the ATSA Independent Living Expo.

NDIS Service Development

Information, supports and services resourced by the lived experience of both, SCI and the NDIS.

With our ever growing knowledge of the NDIS and people's experiences in transitioning to the scheme, we have developed targeted supports to help our community get the most out of the NDIS and avoid common pitfalls in navigating the system. This year we started offering a lived-experience based suite of supports and services to help the community prepare, develop and implement their NDIS plans, as well as resolve any issues or concerns. This includes Support Coordination, NDIS workshops, peer-support and pre-planning assistance.

Rolling out these services has and will continue to improve outcomes from NDIS plans for our clients and community, while also building the NDIS capacity and literacy of the whole organisation.

By leveraging the lived-experience perspective we are able to provide dedicated and tailored support to our community so they can focus on making the most out of the NDIS from a personal capacity building and goal-orientated approach.

NDIS - What Others Have Learned

By sharing people’s lived-experience of the NDIS and what they have learnt, we hope to help others as they navigate their own NDIS journey. This includes personal stories of how to get the most of of your plan; personal care, improved daily living and fresh and creative ways to approach respite options with your family.

"The NDIA failed to consider the remoteness of my location or the fact that some services are unavailable or not within the 50-km radius given to me."

"It’s important to record notes, dates and names for every conversation you have, and keep all emails and correspondence received." - Barbara Simpson

"From the perspective of the NDIS, it is better for everybody if your partner feels happier and more satisfied as your partner. And a big part of that could be their feeling, as much as possible, that they are your partner – not your carer.” - John Theo

“The opportunity for respite has always been on the table from all funding bodies, but we tend to look at it in the traditional old way. Let’s pick up that respite and take it on holiday. And let’s build it into a yearly plan. So that everyone can look forward to some relief now and then from the everyday. " - Peter Van Benthem

Services Snapshot

When people living with a disability have the right information and supports when they’ needed throughout their lives then significant goals can be met and outcomes achieved.

1018 instances of peer-to-peer support, totalling 705 hours provided to help people with SCI navigate their way through life.

313 information requests serviced by our lived experience Information Officers.

285,785 hours of Personal Care Support provided in people's homes and in the community.

Online Presence

This year our social media presence has grown exponentially. The Spire Facebook community continues to flourish, and while the Qualcare Facebook page only reengaged in the second half of this year, its community has rapidly grown.

At AQA we aim to have a social media presence that reflects our mission and vision and that replicates our services and supports; sharing relevant information and resources as well as blogs, articles and updates of what is happening at AQA.

Social media reporting reflects that through our online presence we reach a significant portion of our followers, with an average post reach in excess of 1,200 people per month and a post engagement rate of over 30%. Followers range from people living with a SCI, friends, family, donors and and like-minded organisations and staff. Our social media community is engaged, interested and seeking content relevant to their lives.

This year we also moved the Spire website to a more stable and user-friendly CMS platform. While the Qualcare website was re-built and re-launched! Moving forward we will be looking to creating a integrated web presence, with the old AQA Victoria website.

Looking Forward

We're On the Move

Moving into 2019 there are some exciting things on the horizon. One of the most significant is moving to a new office after occupying 440 Heidelberg Road in Fairfield for the past 18 years. During this time AQA’s services and supports have only continued to grow and diversify. Our need for a space to train staff and volunteers has been increasing for some time. It will also provide the exciting opportunity to engage with our community further; creating welcoming spaces in which they can meet.

This significant capital expenditure for AQA is a considered and strategic investment in the organisations services and supports, and will provide the infrastructure to sustain it.

Business Transformation

Earlier this year we launched a Business Transformation Program with the primary goal of engaging our people with capable and intuitive tools to perform, collaborate, excel and innovate in their roles. The program will look to procure a set of new business software systems across all functional areas with the aim to achieve an integrated business and operational solution for the whole of AQA. This will help AQA business processes to be streamlined, efficient and intuitive shifting the focus to the customers and users rather than on the processes.

This is a significant whole of organisation transformational initiative which directly addresses our business priorities and operational objectives through which we hope to achieve the long term business benefits of being able to create operational efficiencies and release capacity to increase productivity and formulate additional services.

Board and Committees / Organisational Culture and Governance:

This year we started the practice of involving Board and Committee members on Project Governance Committees, working in partnership with Leadership and Project staff to resource large projects such as the Business Transformation Program and the Office Relocation Project.

Details of the Board and Governance structures can be found via the AQA website below

Our Partners

o Funding bodies:

Department of Health and Human Services – individual support packages to people with disabilities

Department of Social Services – Australian Disability Enterprise - employment supports for people with disabilities and innovation project funding

Transport Accident Commission – individual support packages to people with disabilities and innovation project funding

Department of Health and Human Services (Tasmania) – information & referral services to people with spinal cord injury

Department of Health – peer facilitated support services to Victorians with SCI

National Disability Insurance Agency – individual support packages to people with disabilities

o Industry and Project Associates

Austin Health - Victorian Spinal Cord Service

Alfred Health - Caulfield General Medical Centre

Transport Accident Commission Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research

Independence Australia Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (NSW)

Spinal Life Australia (QLD)

Paraquad NSW

o Industry and Project Associates cont.

Paraquad South Australia

Paraquad Tasmania

Spine & Limb Foundation (WA)

Spinal Cord Injury Network

Disability Sport & Recreation

LaTrobe University

Monash University

o Legal Services

Clayton Utz

o Event sponsors



Miles Real Estate

o Procurement Services


A1 Office Fitout

o Corporate Supporters

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

Financial Report

The Full Financial Reports for the financial year 2017/18 including a summary of significant accounting policies, other explanatory notes and declaration from Directors and Auditors are located on the AQA website.