Wheelchair training: Fiji, PNG and the Solomon Islands

Motivation Australia, together with the Latter day Saint Charities (LDSC) have recently delivered wheelchair refresher training in three countries throughout the Pacific from September to November. Motivation Australia’s Katrina McGrath joined Chris Christensen a technical trainer from LDSC to co-deliver training for 45 Pacific Islanders.

The LDSC are the biggest donor of wheelchairs within the Pacific Region. In the last year they have designed three new wheelchairs to add to the range available. This made refresher training essential to ensure that wheelchair service personnel could:

  • Provide these new wheelchairs safely,
  • Make the most out of the features of these new wheelchairs, and,
  • Provide optimum service provision to users.

The training in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, introduced the three new wheelchairs and provided a refresher of the key elements of wheelchair provision, with a focus on the importance of user training, follow up and data collection. In each country wheelchair service personnel were introduced to and instructed in the use of new and modified service specific forms. The reporting of data to donors and funders is essential for the ongoing support of wheelchair programs within the Pacific. Service personnel were provided with the resources and training required to ensure accurate and timely data collection and reporting.

Thirteen Fijian women, nine Fijian men an Australian woman and an American man sit or stand on a set of stairs outside in front of a building. At the bottom of the stairs in the front is a training participant sitting in his wheelchair. Everyone is smiling and one man in the back is giving the thumbs up symbol.
Fijian training participants along with Dr Pratima Singh and co-trainers Chris and Katrina.
Front from left: Chris Christensen (co-trainer), Joeli Susu, Paulisi Seru, Fugawai Bulivou, Priyansha Sheenal Chand, Katrina McGrath
Second row: Alofatunoa Morgan, Vika Naitini, Maraia Matakibau, Jimaima Taoi, Sazmin Nisha, Makereta Vuniwaqa;
Third row: Ajim Khan, Jowana Maiwalu, Debbie Williams, Jane Savou, Monica Nand;
Back row: Edwin Kissun, Leone Vulaca, Jope Liloma, Dr Pratima Singh, Waisiki Ugavule, Abraham Danford, Nitendra Prasad

September, Fiji

The Wheelchair Refresher Training was delivered first in Suva, Fiji to 12 clinicians and 10 technicians from the Ministry of Health and Medical Service (MoHMS), Frank Hilton Organisation (FHO) and the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA). The training was a great success and the personnel enjoyed working with the new wheelchairs.


Three Papua New Guinean women, seven Papua New Guinean men, an Australian and an American are posed for a photo inside a beige room. Five are seated with five standing behind and two squatting in front. The eight training participants are dressed in their navy blue or khaki service uniforms and are holding certificates.
Papua New Guinea training participants with Eddie Alembo (LDS Church PNG), Almah Kuambu (NOPS Technical Advisor) and co-trainers Chris and Katrina.
Front from left: Alfred Sasala, Carolyn Theodore.
Centre from left: Solo Wasop, Lina Pilaiison, Almah Kuambu (NOPS Technical Advisor), Thomas Nangopu, Julian Paraha;
Back from left: Abbie Leba, Edward Alembo (LDS), Chris Christensen (co-trainer), Sammi Imatana, Katrina McGrath

October, Papua New Guinea

The four day training in Port Moresby included six personnel from the National Orthotic Prosthetic Service (NOPS) Port Moresby, one from NOPS Mt Hagen, and one Biomedical Engineer from the Health Facilities Standards Branch. A delay in the clearance and delivery of the newly donated wheelchairs to NOPS, resulted in the wheelchairs only being available on the last day of training. The training team are pleased that despite this, all required elements of the training were completed. The success in getting the wheelchairs cleared was a testimony to the hard work and team work of personnel from NOPS, HFSP, and the LDS Church.


Five Solomon Islander women, twelve Solomon Islander men, an Australian woman and an American man stand on a set of stairs in front of a yellow and green building. The fifteen training participants are holding certificates and are smiling at the camera.
Solomon Island training participants with Elsie Taloafiri (Director Rehabilitation Division), Elwin Taloimatakwa (Rehabilitation Division) and co-trainers Chris and Katrina.
Front row from left: Rackson Maenarii, Basilisa Taroramo, Angella Farobo, Ruth Nanatazo, Philip Wehua
Centre rows from left: Edwin Taloimatakwa, Robert Belo, Elsie Taloafiri, Gabriel Siporo, Lorah Sangoinao, John Talo Pitamama, Patteson Kelimana, Hedley Hoala
Back row from left: Mason Lawrence, Wilfred Aukwai, Sira Tauriki, Joseph Biri, Katrina McGrath, Chris Christensen

November, Solomon Islands

Motivation Australia was able to facilitate thirteen CBR field workers from five provinces, one physiotherapist and one lecturer from Solomon Islands National University to attend the refresher training in Honiara. The theoretical and technical training was very well received, however the highlight of the four-day training was the mobility skills sessions! It is important that wheelchair personnel understand how to mobilise in a wheelchair so that they can understand the challenges wheelchair users face, and so they have the skills to support users to be able to mobilise safely and effectively. The participants particularly enjoyed the cone ball game – the object of which is to knock the opponent team’s cone down, while protecting your own. It was a lot of fun!

Katrina reports that each training was a great opportunity for service personnel in each country to come together and share experiences, skills, knowledge and build stronger relationships. All participants valued the training and appreciated the new wheelchairs and their features. They look forward to providing these devices to meet the needs of people in their communities.



Motivation Australia would like to thank all participants for their enthusiastic involvement in the training. We also say thank-you to Chris Christensen, from the LDSC who travelled from the USA to participate as co-trainer.

Motivation Australia acknowledges the valuable contribution of the Canadian Government’s Fund for Local Initiatives, and the Australian Government’s NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

Motivation Australia also acknowledges the ongoing donation of quality, appropriate wheelchairs by LDSC.