Spinal Alliance sets agenda for a national spinal cord injury strategy

Today the Spinal Alliance Sets Agenda for a National Spinal Cord Injury Strategy Senator Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services Welcomes Approach

Today the Australian Spinal Injury Alliance (Spinal Alliance), representing eight of Australia’s state-based spinal cord injury organisations, launches its vision, and approach to deliver a National Spinal Cord Injury Strategy that will lay the foundation for better outcomes, both social and economic, for all Australians who have sustained a spinal cord injury (SCI).

The announcement comes ahead of the Spinal Cord Injuries Awareness Week (9-15 November, 2014) and is welcomed by Senator Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services.

The Hon. Mitch Fifield comments, “The Alliance’s threefold approach of working with stakeholders, promoting coordination and monitoring outcomes will lay the foundation of a sound strategy.

“The collaborative, holistic approach is a good fit for the new world heralded by the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, with its focus on helping people with disability achieve their own goals through a combination of services and supports they have chosen for themselves,” said Senator Fifield.

Every day in Australia someone’s life will change in an instant due to a spinal cord injury, with an immeasurable emotional, social and financial impact on the individual, their family, friends and community.

The current outcomes for people living with a spinal cord injury in Australia are well short of international best practice.

Peter Trethewey, Spokesperson of the Australian Spinal Injury Alliance, comments, “As the national voice for all Australians with a SCI, the time is ‘now’ for the Alliance to collaborate and make a difference, to leverage our relationships across the board and to pursue outcomes that matter to every Australian with a SCI.”

The Alliance’s approach for a National Spinal Cord Injury Strategy is threefold:

  • To work with all stakeholders to agree a set of outcomes most valued by people with a SCI
  • To facilitate discussion, promote coordination, set priorities and actions of the service system to achieve those outcomes
  • To start to measure and monitor outcomes, and take necessary action in response

“We believe we now have the opportunity to truly deliver, measure and monitor outcomes, to those dealing with this most devastating of injuries,” says Mr Trethewey.

Tim McCallum, who sustained a SCI in 1999 due to a swimming accident at a local Perth beach, gives a personal perspective at today’s launch and comments, “The proposed National SCI Strategy has the potential to seamlessly connect people to all the support services they need at the time they are needed and most importantly deliver outcomes of most value to each one of us who has sustained an SCI. I do believe that the collaborative approach The Spinal Alliance is taking to bring together separate organisations and services will help reach a goal that would be otherwise difficult to achieve.”

Key outcome priorities include access to support services; equipment; healthcare; information; employment; education; community services, and research. A National SCI strategy would also help to collate robust data on the number of Australians who sustain an SCI every year.

National Statistics
Of reported traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI), 84% are male and 16% female.
The causes of injury were:

  • 46% – motor vehicle related incidents
  • 28% – related to falls
  • 9% – resulted from being hit or struck by an object
  • 9% – were water-related
  • 8% – were from other causes
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