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,

Hither & Yon

Hither & Yon means ‘here and over there’, it celebrates the rolling nature of our region and their easy going nature.

The Leask family has been growing grapes and making wine for Australian wine brands for over 40 years. Their aim is to be at the forefront of new generation producers in McLaren Vale and they strongly support the sustainable and natural food and wine movement in Australia.

Hither & Yon have supported Motivation Australia’s fundraising events by donating wine as well as hosting our 10th Anniversary Birthday celebrations!

Fiji follow up

Katrina McGrath from Motivation Australia (MA) traveled to Fiji in February this year. During her visit she accompanied Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) Mobility Device Service (MDS) personnel on follow up visits to six clients (four men, two women).

These clients had received a wheelchair either through the SIA, Colonial War Memorial (CWM) Hospital or the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH), with the SIA MDS responsible for ongoing follow-up. Interviews with these clients provided an opportunity to monitor and evaluate wheelchair services in Fiji, which assist MA and our partners to understand the issues being faced by clients, better support the users of MDS services, and strengthen wheelchair services in Fiji.

Follow-up visits are a crucial part of mobility device service provision. Follow-up visits allow for new prescriptions, wheelchair modifications / repairs and user training, all of which can have a significant impact on the function and comfort of users. The follow-ups also provide an opportunity for service providers to better understand the challenges facing wheelchair users and to learn more about the outcomes, good and bad, associated with mobility device provision.

During one of the follow-up visits Katrina met Ruci. Ruci is a 46 year old female who lost her right leg due to diabetic complications. At the time of her amputation Ruci was provided with a pair of crutches. Ruci found the crutches hard to use and was unable to complete all the activities she needed to do around her home. Ruci was also experiencing a lot of pain in her shoulders and left knee. These issues were discussed with personnel from the SIA during a follow up visit to Ruci to and led to her being prescribed and fitted with a wheelchair.

Ruci spends her days completing chores around the house and making Salu Salu’s for her husband to sell at the market. She finds it much easier to do these tasks with the wheelchair. When asked what was the most significant change for her since receiving the wheelchair she said that “before the wheelchair I always had pain in my knee and under my arms, but now with the wheelchair there is no pain and I can do chores in the house”. Ruci also uses her wheelchair to go out into the community. However due to some steep stairs in her yard she requires assistance to carry her wheelchair, whilst she uses her crutches to traverse the steep, high steps. She is happy with this method and there is usually some one around to help. Ruci is very happy with her wheelchair and could not think of anything she would like to change with it, or any thing she would like to be able to do that she can’t currently do.

It was the follow-up visit by the SIA that highlighted the issues that Ruci was having with her crutches. This visit gave her the opportunity to request and be assessed for a wheelchair, thus making her life much easier. Ruci’s story highlights the importance of follow-up visits in assuring that a client’s device continues to be appropriate for them.

MA would like to thank SIA personnel for their assistance in organising and carrying out these follow-up visits. As well as thanking the wheelchair users visited for sharing their stories with us.

High Risk Foot Management in the Pacific

Katrina McGrath from Motivation Australia (MA) joined volunteers from the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) Australian National Member Society Outreach Committee (ISPO Outreach) in presenting a 3 day Instructional Course for High Risk Foot Management in the Pacific. The course provided an introduction to the management of diabetic foot ulcers with a focus on offloading including: theory sessions, demonstrations and hands on practical sessions.

I-Kiribati nursing personnel, physiotherapists and Prosthetist Orthotists where joined at the training by Tonga and Samoa’s only Podiatrists, Katrina Palu and Helene Stehlin. Training participants really enjoyed practicing their assessment and offloading skills on each other.
3 staff learn how to apply a total contact cast on a training participants foot.

This training is the first of three training inputs planned for Motivation Australia’s Kiribati Amputation Prevention Project (KAP) this year. The second training scheduled for April will coincide with the establishment of a Diabetic Foot Clinic (DFC) within Kiribati’s Tungaru Central Hospital (TCH).

The MA team would like to thank everyone who participated for their time and contributions. Special thanks go to TCH management who assisted in the planning for the DFC and the Tungaru Rehabilitation Service (TRS) for hosting the training. Further thanks go to ISPO ANMS for their assistance in organising, delivering and sourcing funding for the Instructional Course and for facilitating the attendance of the Pacific Podiatrists.



FSM: Assistive technology project

Motivation Australia is pleased to announce the beginning of a new project with partners in the Federated States of Micronesia’s (FSM) Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSA) to:

  • Analyse the current system of Assistive Technology (AT) service provision in FSM
  • Develop a plan for improving quality and reach of assistive device service provision in FSM

The project is being funded by the Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

For more information about the project, you can download the project summary or contact Kylie Mines.

Vanuatu suppor visit

Katrina from Motivation Australia (MA) visited Vanuatu in January to provide mentoring and support in the provision of wheelchair services to service partners at Vanuatu Society of Persons with Disabilities (VSPD), Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Justice and Community Services (MOJCS).

The trip was a great opportunity to catch up with our partners and see the work being done by our local partners. The trip provided an opportunity to accompany VSPD Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) field workers on follow-up visits within the community, to review and provide mentoring and support. All members of the CBR team were involved in our Basic Level Wheelchair Service Training (WSTP-B) in July 2016.

Dulcie (left) and Timothy (above) were both seen during these follow-up visits. The VSPD CBR team provided both of their wheelchairs after the completion of the WSTP-B training. Both wheelchairs were appropriate for the user and their environment. It was great to see them team implementing the training in such a positive way.

MA would like to thank all of our partners in Vanuatu for making themselves available during this visit. Particular thanks to VSPD management and field workers for helping to coordinate visits into the community to meet with VSPD wheelchair clients.


Wheelchair training in The Solomon Islands

From 26th January – 14th February 2017 Ray Mines and Lauren Flaherty were in Honiara (The Solomon Islands) delivering the Intermediate level, WHO Wheelchair Service Training (WSTP-I) for fourteen trainees from three countries. The young girl pictured above was one of 16 people (8 women or girls, and 8 boys) with disabilities who participated by being assessed and fitted with a wheelchair during the training. The majority of wheelchair users were children with cerebral palsy who required extra postural support in their wheelchairs.

Hilda cropped square 390x390pxThe focus of this training was to support the two national trainers to deliver WSTP-I for the first time, following their Training of Trainers (ToT) course in Bangkok. The 14 trainees came from a range of local organisations in the region, including personnel from The Solomon Islands’ CBR Unit and Physiotherapy Department; Fiji’s Frank Hilton Organisation (FHO); Vanuatu’s Vila Central Hospital (VCH), and; Vanuatu Society for People with Disability (VSPD). The training covered all aspects of wheelchair service provision from referral through to follow-up in the community, as well as the assembly of Wheelchairs for Kids and Motivation (UK) wheelchairs.

We would like to thank the following organisations for providing the financial support which made this training possible: Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS); the Australian Government (DFAT); LDS Church Charities; Management Sciences for Health’s Leadership, Management and Governance Project (funded by United States Aid for International Development). Thank you also to Wheelchairs for Kids for donating products to the CBR Unit for use during and after the training.

The visit also provided an opportunity to progress activities for the Pacific Mobility Device Service (MDS) Project, including supporting the CBR Unit to review the status of the Prosthetics and Orthotics scholarship applications, data collection  and plans to renovate the rehabilitation building.


Training participants group photo

Welcome to the new SIA Executive Officer

Motivation Australia warmly welcomes Mere Roden into the position of Executive Officer of our partners, the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA). Joshco Wakaniyasi, Executive Director since 2008 is taking a well-earned break; having led the SIA through a solid period of growth and consolidation.

Mere takes over the reins with a strong knowledge of the SIA and the organisation’s activities, having participated in the SIA in a number of roles over many years including as a member, Board Member and Project Manager.

This month, our CEO spent time with both Joshco and Mere discussing our continued support of the SIA’s Mobility Device Service. This is one of the major activities of the SIA, and is a valuable service for people in the Central District of Fiji and beyond. Our discussions included how we can help the SIA to make their service increasingly sustainable into the future.

MA and the SIA also meet with the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to discuss plans to provide training for physiotherapist and hospital technicians in wheelchair service delivery, scheduled for later this year.

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.