Fiji: Children’s wheelchair services

MA was pleased to once again work with our partners at the Frank Hilton Organisation to develop their children’s wheelchair services, as part of our Pacific MDS project.

The team at FHO provide physiotherapy, hearing and mobility device services for children who attend Hilton Special School and Early Intervention Centre. In the coming months, FHO plan to pilot expanded support to other special schools in Fiji in order to better support children who need mobility devices.

The June in-country visit provided an opportunity to provide clinical and technical mentoring for the FHO team; two of which attended the Solomon Islands intermediate level wheelchair service training in February.

The visit also provided some opportunities for regional exchange; the MA team were joined by Prosthetist-Orthotist Tebakaro Aata from the Tungaru Rehabilitation Service in Kiribati. Tebakaro worked alongside the FHO personnel to share and build his skills in intermediate level wheelchair service delivery.

The FHO will continue to be our partner in the 2017-18 Pacific MDS project, and the MA team looks forward to continuing our colloboration!

Kylie Mines

Kylie qualified as an Occupational Therapist in Adelaide, in 1989, and has always had a strong interest in wheelchair provision and supportive seating. Kylie began working in international development in Lithuania in 1991; and joined the Motivation Charitable Trust in 1993 to establish a national wheelchair service network in Cambodia. That first project with Motivation led to seven years of programme work, living and working in Cambodia, Russia, Lithuania, Albania, Romania, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

In 2000 Kylie returned to live in South Australia to start a family – however was unwilling to sever the links with Motivation and international development. After working as a short term consultant for the Motivation Charitable Trust on a range of projects; Kylie founded Motivation Australia in 2007.

As well as building Motivation Australia, Kylie has worked as a consultant for the World Health Organisation (WHO). Through this work she contributed to the development of the WHO Guidelines on the Provision of Manual Wheelchairs in Less Resourced Settings, and is the co-editor of the WHO Wheelchair Service Training Package (Basic and Intermediate modules).

Role: Kylie is Motivation Australia’s CEO, and also holds a position on the Board of Governors. Kylie is responsible for overall direction and approach; developing partnerships; and inputs into programmes with a focus on training and education tools; policy development; monitoring and evaluation.

What do you enjoy about working with Motivation Australia? Through Motivation Australia I have been able to continue working in a sector that I feel incredibly passionate about – and build a team of people who are just as keen as I am to see people who need an appropriate mobility device get one. I love that my work is now taking me to countries that are in my ‘home’ Region. I love working alongside our neighbours in the Pacific; and am learning all the time.

Connect with Kylie on LinkedIn.

Ray Mines

Ray is an Industrial Designer and Project Manager who has been working in developing countries since joining Motivation in the UK in 1996. He has designed, built, adapted and fitted wheelchairs and seating systems, as well as delivered training and capacity building in a wide range of cross cultural situations. To date he has undertaken assignments in more than thirty countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and the Pacific including remote communities in Australia. Ray has a BSc Industrial Design (Hons) Degree from Brunel University, UK (1990-94) and a Kepner – Tregoe Project Management Certificate (2001).

Role: As Director of Design & Innovation, Ray delivers product design, visual communication & brand image, strategic planning, programme design, training development & delivery, staff mentoring and in-country capacity building. Ray is the Project Manager for two of Motivation Australia’s programmes: the Samoa Integrated Mobility Device Service (SIMDES) project and the Regional Amputation Prevention (RAP) project

What do you enjoy about working with Motivation Australia? What I personally value about what we do is the inspiring people that we meet; I carry their incredible stories with me. I see our work supporting people with disabilities to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges every day, this is the fire in my belly, and this is the very essence of what Motivation Australia exists for.

Connect with Ray on LinkedIn.

Lauren Flaherty

Lauren is an Occupational Therapist with more than 13 years experience in wheelchairs, seating and neuro-rehabilitation. Since joining Motivation Australia in 2010 as a part time consultant, her position has developed into a full time role as the organisation’s Senior Clinical Coordinator.

Role: Lauren provides clinical leadership; inputs into new programme design; develops and delivers training courses and mentoring clinics, and; provides remote and in country support of our partners.

She is also responsible for Motivation Australia’s social media and day to day website management.

Lauren has been involved in the development of the WHO Wheelchair Service Training Packages (WSTP). She is also an author of the WHO WSTP Training of Trainers Package.

What do you enjoy about working with Motivation Australia? A key aspect of my role is in the development and mentoring of local staff who are proving mobility device services in challenging situations; it is always really satisfying to see the change and development in staff, and know that this will positively impact on the lives of hundreds of people with a mobility disability.

I also really appreciate the commitment of the team to continue to provide high quality, innovative, sustainable and effective solutions for our partners.

Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn.

Jodie Summer

Jodie is a Chartered Accountant with experience in financial system development and process improvement.  She has worked in the South Australian Health sector and for the international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.  Jodie has a Graduate Diploma in Chartered Accounting (GradDipCA), Bachelor of Commerce (double major in Accounting and Management) and a Cert IV in Financial Services. In 2011 she was admitted as a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia (ICAA).  Jodie is an active member of the South Australian ICAA Not for Profit discussion group and the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) Finance Working Group.

Role: As the Finance Manager, Jodie provides financial business advice to Motivation Australia’s employees, consultants, volunteers, partners and other stakeholders by providing: Effective strategies in managing financial performance, monitoring, reporting and analysis, budget development and forecasting; Effective financial system development, and; Expert financial operational advice and leadership.

What do you enjoy about working with Motivation Australia? I enjoy working with Motivation Australia because the work is so varied and rewarding.  It is always great to know that the work that we are doing here in Australia in an administrative role ultimately enables us to enhance the quality of life of people with mobility disabilities. I enjoy working with a fantastic team of friendly, motivated, driven, highly skilled and professional people.

Connect with Jodie on LinkedIn.

Kate Shortt

Kate has a background in administration, sales and office management through roles in both the United Kingdom and Australia working in the New Homes industry. She also worked as a Police Officer in the UK, before emigrating to Australia with her husband in 2008; followed closely by the birth of her daughter.

Role: Kate is our Officer Manager, who provides administrative assistance to the CEO and programme staff, remotely supporting our in-country training and support visits.

What do you enjoy about working with Motivation Australia? With a relaxed but professional working environment, Motivation Australia is a genuine team made up of friends as well as colleagues. I admire the work that our team does, here in Australia and abroad. Hearing the inspiring stories when they return home from a training or project abroad keeps me motivated!

Connect with Kate on LinkedIn.

Lee Brentnall

Lee has worked as a clinician and as a lecturer in Prosthetics and Orthotics in Australia, Kiribati, Sri Lanka and Fiji; along with contributing to research projects focused on International Public Health. Lee joined Motivation Australia as a volunteer, before coming on board to contribute to planning for integrated mobility device services in the Asia Pacific Region.

Role: Lee is a Consultant Prosthetist/Orthotist, working with the senior team across a number of programmes including in Samoa where Lee will support the creation of an integrated mobility device service, and; PNG where she is contributing to the development of the National Assistive Devices Guidelines. Lee is also an author of the Keep Moving project – which aims to build the capacity of personnel working to prevent lower limb amputation and to support return to mobility for people who have had an amputation in the Pacific region.

What do you enjoy about working with Motivation Australia? Motivation Australia is a small team that does an enormous amount of work. They are supportive and always excited about taking on new challenges and projects to support people with a mobility disability. I love being a part of a team of people that are dedicated and passionate about what they do: and seeing the immediate benefits of the work that we do for the people we work with.

Connect with Lee on LinkedIn.

Christina Parasyn

Christina is an independent consultant with 19 years experience working in international development and disability. In this time she has worked in partnership with people with disabilities, governments, donors, service providers, faith-based organisations, international NGOs and the United Nations in developing countries to ensure people with disabilities can access the same rights as opportunities as others, in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

She has a Masters of Social Science (International Development), a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) and is a qualified outdoor educator. Her field experience includes Maldives, Fiji, India, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Vietnam and Australia.

Role: Since joining Motivation Australia as a part time consultant in 2015 she has supported implementation of Motivation Australia’s projects in Papua New Guinea and Samoa. She has played a key role in the consultation and drafting process of the PNG National Guidelines on the Provision of Assistive Technology for Persons with Disabilities. She has also contributed to the development of data tools to track progress of the Samoa Disability Program.

What do you enjoy about working with Motivation Australia? The team at Motivation Australia is committed to the rights of persons with disabilities and their partners wherever they work. It is exciting to be part of discussions and field visits where time is dedicated to regularly understand the local context and priorities, in particular from persons with disabilities. This allows us to strengthen our relationships with and learn from our partners. It enables us to be flexible and responsive.  Importantly, it ensures our contributions continue to focus on sustainable, contextually appropriate and improved access and opportunities for persons with disabilities in their communities.

Katrina McGrath

Katrina graduated as a Prosthetist / Orthotist in 2002. Since this time she has been working as a clinician in Hobart, Tasmania. Her work has involved orthotic, prosthetic and wheelchair-seating provision, with an emphasis on paediatric services.

Role: After spending time with Motivation Australia as a volunteer, Katrina moved to Adelaide in August 2015 to commence a full time position as a Clinical Project Officer. Her role will be supporting projects in Samoa and Fiji.

Connect with Katrina on LinkedIn.

Jolene McCool

Jolene has a background of nearly 20 years working in accounting and finance. She started her working life in a College in Scotland where she both worked and studied – gaining, a diploma and advanced diploma in Accounting & Finance. After working across a variety of Finance and analytical roles in Scotland she arrived in Adelaide as part of a working holiday in 2007. Jolene began working for a not for profit, aged care provider and decided to stay!  After taking some time out and having her second daughter, she has joined the team at Motivation Australia part time.

Role: As the Support Officer, Jolene provides financial and administrative support to the team.

What do you enjoy about working with Motivation Australia? I enjoy working with Motivation Australia because the work is so varied and the team is made up of some amazing professionals who I am learning from daily.

Larissa Burke

Larissa is a physiotherapist with several years of clinical experience who has a keen interest in global health and international development. She joins the Motivation Australia after spending two years living and working in the Pacific on the Australian Volunteer Program. This included working in Fiji on a special and inclusive education project and most recently, in Vanuatu advocating for and working towards disability inclusion on a vocational skills training program. Larissa is passionate about disability inclusion and working for all people to have equal access to services and opportunity for full participation in community life. Larissa has a Bachelor of Physiotherapy and a Graduate Certificate in International Health and is currently studying a Masters of Public Health/International Health.

Larissa works as a Programme Support Officer. Her role includes providing support to the CEO and the team by contributing to international development project documentation and management.

What do you enjoy about working with Motivation Australia? Working with Motivation Australia allows me to stay connected to Pacific and to work with a great team in supporting and building the capacity of partner organisations and working to improve the quality of life of people living with disability.

Claire Ibell

Claire is a physiotherapist with a background in rehabilitation and community health. She has a keen interest in international health, and has worked in community based rehabilitation and service provision for people with disability in Latin America and the Pacific.

Originally from NZ, Claire lived for a number of years in Melbourne and further abroad before moving to Vanuatu to work with the Vanuatu Society for People with Disability, through the Australian Volunteers for International Development program. Claire remains based in Port Vila, Vanuatu, and joins the team as Project Officer for Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. Claire has a Bachelor of Physiotherapy and a Masters in International Public Health.

Role: Claire works as Project Officer for Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands primarily within the Pacific Mobility Device Services Project.

What do you enjoy about working with Motivation Australia? Working with Motivation Australia allows me to work directly with community partners in service provision, while also supporting and advocating for a strong mobility device service system at a national level.

Basic wheelchair training: Fiji

On a trip to Fiji in May, Motivation Australia (MA) had the opportunity to provide basic level wheelchair service training to seventeen personnel from the Fiji Spinal Injuries Association (SIA), Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), Frank Hilton organisation and Kiribati’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

The eight day training course utilised material from the WHO Wheelchair Service Training Package – basic level (WSTPb) and included a mix of theoretical and practical sessions.  Participants got the opportunity to put some of their new skills into practice by providing eighteen wheelchair users with new, appropriate wheelchairs and cushions.

Another fantastic outcome of the training was the opportunity for  Kiribati’s Taukoriri Tibirianoto to complete his Training of Trainers (ToT) programme. Taikoriri, who is a Physiotherapist at Tungaru Rehabilitation Service, attended the WSTPb ToT course in Bangkok in October 2016. The WSTPb in Fiji allowed him to co-train with MA Trainers Katrina McGrath and Julian Silveri.

Congratulations to Taukoriri on this achievement – the first WSTPb trainer in the Pacific Region to complete the ToT.

The in country visit was also a great opportunity to meet with our partners to discuss broader aspects of wheelchair service delivery. As part of this, MA facilitated a Wheelchair Service Network meeting to support personnel working in the Western and Northern Division of Fiji to improve access to wheelchairs and strengthen their service systems.

MA would like to thank the SIA for their support in making the training a success. MA also acknowledges and thanks the donors for this activity: USAID (through Management Sciences for Health’s Leadership, Management and Governance Project) and the Australian Government (through the Australian Non-Government Cooperation Programme).

MA also thanks LDS Charities for their ongoing support for wheelchair services in Fiji, through donation of appropriate wheelchairs to the SIA for use in the training, and further service provision. Final thanks to the SIA, FHO, the Fiji and Kiribati MHMS and the training participants for their great commitment towards improving services for people with disabilities in Fiji and Kiribati.

Final thanks to the SIA, FHO, the Fiji and Kiribati MHMS and the training participants for their great commitment towards improving services for people with disabilities.

Launch of Diabetic Foot Clinic in Kiribati

April saw the launch of Kiribati’s new Diabetic Foot Clinic (DFC) at Tungaru Central Hospital (TCH). Katrina McGrath from Motivation Australia and volunteer Podiatrist Nalini Natesan visited the DFC team in Kiribati to provide on site training and mentoring.

DFC personnel practiced how to assess a client with a foot ulcer (wound), develop an appropriate treatment plan and provide client education. Training for nursing personnel also included the preparation of a clean environment for wound management, as well as ulcer cleaning, debridement and dressing.

Prosthetist Orthotists (POs) practiced the application of Total Contact Casts (TCC), TCC Shoes and padding, as well as discussing long term orthotic and footwear options to prevent future wounds from developing.

The implementation of the clinic was very successful, with clients receiving high quality care. The DFC was already seeing positive outcomes in the first week with clients showing clear signs of ulcer healing at their first review appointments. As word of mouth about the clinic spreads it is hoped that client numbers will increase and the number of amputations for I-Kiribati reduces. MA looks forward to supporting the DFC in this goal!

MA would like to thank Nalini for sharing her time and experience, the DFC team for their enthusiasm and dedication to their clients, and TCH management and the Tungaru Rehabilitation Service (TRS) who assisted in the planning for the DFC. Special thanks also go to the Australian Government and LDS Charities for their support of this project.

WHO Priority Assistive Product List

Assistive products such as wheelchairs, white canes, hearing aids and prosthetics are essential tools which facilitate greater independence and inclusion, and allow people to access and participate education, work and employment. They provide a greater opportunity for people to escape poverty, and enable people to live a dignified life. Motivation Australia has witnessed the impact on a person’s life that can be made through access to the right assistive product, at the right time.

People who use assistive products include children or adults with a disability, people with disabling health conditions or older persons. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over one billion people need one or more assistive products, however many people living in low income countries are unable to access them. Challenges include limited availability, high costs, in-appropriate products, lack of services and too few trained local personnel.

To support and improve access to high quality, affordable assistive products globally, the WHO has introduced the Priority Assistive Products List (APL). The APL was developed in extensive consultation with experts, including users and their caregivers, and aims to improve access to assistive products for everyone, everywhere. It lists 50 priority assistive products and is intended to guide and support Member States to fulfil their commitment to improving access to assistive products as mandated by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The APL is the first step in implementing a global commitment to improving access to assistive products and is part of WHO’s flagship programme – Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE). Motivation Australia is actively participating in the GATE initiative, which has enormous potential to improve access to assistive products globally as well as supporting the WHO’s global strategy of people-centred, universal and integrated health services across the lifespan.


Celebrate the end of the financial year with #Dinner4thePacific!

For the month of June, be a host and fundraise with your family and friends to help people with disabilities in the Pacific Region. What a great way to have a good time while supporting a good cause!

Your kitchen, your rules!

From the menu to the number of guests, you decide on all aspects of your dinner. In return for a warm winter’s meal; ask your friends to make a donation to support Motivation Australia’s work in Pacific Island countries.

Register your #Dinner4thePacific with Motivation Australia by calling (08) 8556 6703 or emailing

We will send you a #Dinner4thePacific kit including invitations, information about Motivation Australia and how to donate.

Keep an eye on the #Dinner4Pacific Facebook Group to check out other hosts’ dinner parties and get inspired!

AT in the Federated States of Micronesia

“I always depend on my husband and other people. Seeing the different devices gives me hope and makes me realise I can do it all myself.”

– Participant from the FSM Stakeholder Consultation Workshop

In April, MA’s Kylie Mines and Larissa Burke travelled to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) as part of our FSM Assistive Technology (AT) project. The purpose of this consultation and scoping visit was to better understand the health, disability and assistive technology context of FSM so as to enable the drafting of a strategy aimed at increasing access to AT provision for the people of FSM.

During the week long visit, MA met with over 20 stakeholders including health and education services, government agencies, donors and disabled people’s organisations. MA also conducted a two day stakeholder consultation workshop in collaboration with the FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSA) and the Pohnpei State Department of Health with over 40 attendees.

These stakeholder consultations gave MA a valuable insight into the rehabilitation and AT needs in FSM, particularly for the state of Pohnpei. This will enable drafting of a ‘road map’ for AT priority activities to increase mobility and independence for people in FSM, particular people with disability, older persons and people with disabling conditions including non-communicable diseases.

We would like to especially thank Stuard Penias from the DHSA and Johnny Hadley from the Pohnpei State Department of Health for their support in coordinating the many meetings during our visit. Thank you also to the local World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Liaison Office and the WHO Western Pacific Regional office for ongoing support and funding of the project.

1,000 clients and counting…

An important milestone was reached last week in Samoa….the number of clients who have received a wheelchair, walking aid, prosthetic or orthotic device from the newly established Mobility Device Service at TTM hospital in Apia, passed 1,000! Congratulations to the Samoan service staff who work so hard to deliver these services.

As a development organisation, our focus is on creating longer term solutions that are as sustainable as possible. We could go to Samoa and provide 1,000 mobility devices ourselves, and it would probably be quicker, cheaper and easier. If this was a natural disaster situation, that’s exactly what would happen. Aid organisations have to distribute as many supplies as possible in the short term, because their focus is on saving lives in an emergency.

However our focus is on building the capacity of the local team, and they in turn go on providing the products and services to their people, long after our team has left. 1,000 people is a great milestone for the team in Samoa to have reached after three years of the project (and we’re very proud of them) but what is even more important is that they now have the capacity to see over 600 people EVERY YEAR.

Now that the building blocks of the service are in place, the challenge for the National Health Service of Samoa will be keeping this service going. On-going funding for materials and devices will still be a challenge, even though we’ve established the service to use good quality, but low cost, appropriate technology, mobility products.

During the project we have been lucky to attract some really valuable donations from a range of organisations. If their generous support can be continued, then this will get the service part way to having the supplies they need. However on-going funding will be needed from the Government and probably international donors, until a sustainable system is achieved. It is encouraging that there are good examples out there of countries which provide disability specific services funded by Government insurance schemes.

Just over seven months of the project remain. The emphasis has shifted into handing over all aspects of the running of the service to the NHS. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners at the NHS to ensure that the Mobility Device Service has a solid foundation on which to build in the years to come. The Samoa MDS team will join their peers from across the Pacific, in becoming part of a growing sector in the region.

Fa’afetai lava to the Samoan National Health Service, the Australian Aid programme, Nuanua O Le Alofa, Disability Advocacy Organisation in Samoa and MWCSD for their continued support for this much needed service.

Volunteer Orthotist for Tonga

Motivation Australia and Scope Global are looking for an Orthotist to support Diabetic Foot Care in Tonga in partnership with the National Diabetes Centre (NDC).

The NDC has a multi-disciplinary team, is well established and has good links with the surgical team. There is, however, a gap in their capacity to provide offloading as a means of improving healing rates for ulcers.

In this 6 month role, you will train NDC personnel in orthotic offloading techniques and procure and set-up the tools and equipment required to continue to provide them through the Diabetic Foot Clinic.

You will be supported by Motivation Australia’s team, and have access to existing resources that were developed as part of the Keep Moving Project and the Samoan Diabetic Foot Clinic (DFC).

See the AVID website for more information about this position (and an application form) or contact Lauren Flaherty:

Volunteer Podiatrist or Nurse for Kiribati

Motivation Australia and Scope Global is looking for a Podiatrist or Nurse to support the establishment of a Diabetic Foot Clinic at Tungaru Central Hospital (TCH) in Kiribati as part of the Regional Amputation Prevention Project (RAP-1).

Amputations as a result of diabetic foot wounds is a significant, and growing health issue that is impacting on the lives of I-Kiribati and draining health services of their resources.

In this 6-12 month role, you will work alongside medical, nursing and allied health personnel at TCH to support the clinic, utilising Motivation Australia’s existing resources that were developed as part of the Keep Moving Project and the Samoan Diabetic Foot Clinic (DFC).

See the AVID website for more information about this position (and an application form) or contact Lauren Flaherty,