Vanuatu Volcano: Update

Following the recent evacuation of the entire population of the island of Ambae in Vanuatu, Motivation Australia has been working alongside our Ni-Vanuatu partners the Vanuatu Society for Persons with Disabilities (VSPD), the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Justice; and faith based organisation the Latter-day Saints (LDS); to assist in meeting the mobility device needs of evacuees.

A group of 274 people identified as needing additional support during the evacuation are now situated at an evacuation centre rapidly set up within the grounds of the LDS church on the island of Santo.

With instruction from the Health Cluster; and assistance from the LDS; Motivation Australia and VSPD began work last week in preparing wheelchairs and walking aids to be transported to Santo. These products arrived yesterday, and provision of mobility devices to those who need them has begun. At the same time, more detailed screening of evacuees is being carried out at the 74 evacuation centres on Santo, Maewo and Pentacost.

We are working to ensure that the devices provided meet the needs of evacuees now, and on their eventual return to Ambae. This means taking the time to properly talk with each person to understand their needs, and to make sure that devices are assembled, fitted and adjusted correctly.

The Government of Vanuatu has extended the State of Emergency until the 24th October, following advice from the Disaster Management Office. A thorough assessment of Ambae is needed to ensure that it is safe for people to return.

You can help by making a donation!

100% of donations will be used to support the costs of our response including transport from Port Vila to Santo, accommodation and staff time. Administration costs are being absorbed by Motivation Australia. You can read more about the appeal here.

Data collection in the Solomon Islands

Motivation Australia (MA) has been working with partners at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) and the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) to develop a customised Mobility Device Service (MDS) Data System for the Rehabilitation Division.

The MDS Data Systems includes service forms (such as registration forms and assessment form), data collection processes and a database. MA has facilitated two Data Systems workshops in Honiara this year in order to consult, develop and launch the system. The latest workshop gave us the opportunity to work with the national team – including many Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) personnel who live and work in remote locations.

The MDS database is an access-based database that records individual client details such as contact information, demographics, information about their health condition or disability and any devices that have been provided.

It also automatically aggregates that data into key quantitative indicators in real time.

By incorporating the MDS database into their service systems, the Rehabilitation Division can:

  • Input, search and edit individual clients records
  • Create lists of clients (for example: by year, by district or by device)
  • View dashboards of visual charts showing aggregated data on key indicators such as gender or age
  • Customise and generate de-identified reports

One of the benefits of the data system implemented in the Solomon Islands is that many of our partners in the Pacific Region are using the same service forms, systems and database which will allow the services to share disaggregated, de-identified data in order to learn from their peer services.










MA thanks the participants of the data systems workshop for all of their ideas, support and colloboration!

PNG re-launch of partnership

Motivation Australia’s team has just returned from Port Moresby after the first Pacific Mobility Device Service (MDS) Project visit to PNG partners the National Orthotics and Prosthetics Service (NOPS). Motivation Australia has had a long history of partnership with NOPS, beginning in 2005 with training input for national personnel about basic wheelchair service provision. In 2016 the Strengthening Access to Assistive Technology project resulted in the zero draft of the Guidelines on the Provision of Assistive Technology in PNG.

This year, with NOPS joining the Pacific MDS Project, we are working together on activities designed to strengthen NOPS’s service systems, including:

  • Data collection, analysis and reporting,
  • Appropriate procurement of wheelchairs, walking aids, prosthetic and orthotic devices and consumable materials.

We are also working together on consolidating NOPS resources and service personnel and preparing for de-centralisation of services.

The team looks forward to sharing more news in the coming months!

If you would like more information about the Pacific MDS Project, contact Kylie Mines.

Samoa Evaluation

Motivation Australia’s (MA), Larissa Burke visited Samoa in October 2017 to work with stakeholders and a local team to prepare to undertake qualitative interviews with those who have been provided with a prosthetic or long term orthotic from the National Health Service Mobility Device Service (MDS). These interviews will provide the opportunity to hear more about the impact of a prosthetic or orthotic device and the MDS service on people’s lives, and will inform the final evaluation of the Samoa Integrated Mobility Device Services (SIMDES) project.

A key activity during this visit was the ‘Interview Preparation Workshop’. This 3 day workshop was attended by the three members of the interview team which includes two representatives from Nuanua O Le Alofa (NOLA) Disability Advocacy Organisation and a data collector from the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development. The workshop included a presentation from the PO personnel from the NHS MDS and provided the opportunity for the team to work together with NOLA to finalise logistics and to trail the interview.

MA would like to thank the NHS MDS, NOLA, MWCSD and the interview team for their support and contribution into final preparations for the interviews. MA also thanks the Australian Government for the funding of the SIMDES project.

The interviews are well underway and MA looks forward to returning to Samoa to assist in analysing and sharing the findings.

Vanuatu volcano appeal

In recent days, the entire population of 11,600 from Ambae, a small island in Vanuatu, have had to face the reality of leaving their homes, due to an escalating threat of the Monaro volcano erupting. The residents of Ambae do not know when, if ever, they will be able to return home.

The bulk of the evacuees are now in temporary evacuation centres on neighbouring islands Espiritu Santo, Maewo and Pentacost. For those with a disability, the move and adjusting to a new environment is particularly challenging. Disability services on Ambae are non-existent, which means that those with a mobility disability are unlikely to have their own mobility devices. With the upheaval of the move, loss of routines and supports, they are now in even greater need of the right mobility device, without which they will be unable to move about the evacuation centre to manage daily activities (for example access wash facilities, eating and cooking areas) and participate in meetings and decisions about their future.

Throughout the evacuation, Motivation Australia has been staying in close contact with our partners in Vanuatu; and as we receive more information confirming the need for wheelchairs and walking aids, we are preparing to respond. Working with local staff from Port Vila, trained through our current ‘Strengthening Mobility Device Services in the Pacific’ project, we will first visit Espiritu Santo, where the majority of the Ambae population have been relocated, to assess and prescribe walking aids and wheelchairs from stock recently donated by the Latter-day Saints Charities and managed by one of our partners, the Vanuatu Society for Persons with Disabilities.

At the same time as recognising and responding to the immediate need, Motivation Australia and our partners in Vanuatu are conscious that in providing mobility devices now, we will have a responsibility to follow up recipients in the future to make sure their devices are still working for them. As part of our initial response, we will continue to work with local stakeholders to strengthen local systems and train local personnel – so that mobility device recipients from Ambae can be followed up in the future.

For now – our aim is to improve the situation for these people now, at this time of incredible uncertainty, upheaval and disruption.

You can help by making a donation!

100% of donations will be used to support the costs of our response including transport from Port Vila to Santo, accommodation and staff time. Administration costs are being absorbed by Motivation Australia.

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.