Speech by Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia on the occasion of the Official launch of the Spinal Cord Injuries Australia Walk On Program at the University of Sydney, NSW on 3 November 2010
“Ladies and gentlemen,
I feel privileged to join you here today for the NSW launch of your exceptional Walk On program and to be here as the Patron of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and to let you know how enormously important your work is within the Australian community:
to the more than 400 Australians each year who suffer spinal cord injury and to the families and loved ones who support and care for them.
What really strikes me about the Walk On program, what impresses and inspires me, is its overwhelming and uplifting positivity.
There is no way for me to know the distress and devastation that spinal cord injury occasions to its sufferers, men and women, going about their daily lives – many, many of them at the prime of their health and fitness, their ambition and their optimism about where their relationships, their work and their dreams might take them.
Indiscriminately, instantly, and without notice, their lives are tossed upon foreign tracks.
And yet at every point they are the same people.
The Walk On program isn’t about learning how to manage a crippling injury, how to accept a lifelong disability it’s about looking and literally moving beyond injury and disability to reclaim the life you want to lead.
It’s a program that’s grounded in rigorous scientific and clinical research and real-life, tangible progress.
There are clear and guided steps to get you back on your feet.
Practitioners are trained to help you, encourage you, teach you at every point along the way.
You learn to trust yourself and your body as you once did.
As you work your way though each phase of the exercise for recovery program your nervous system is reactivated nerve fibres begin to regrow and make new connections between the brain and the body gradually, motor power and strength are regained.
An extraordinary process of rehabilitation that focuses on the body, but in doing so re-engages confidence, self esteem and hope.
SCIA’s introduction of the Walk On program, here in partnership with the University of Sydney integrated with the university’s on-site education program for postgraduate exercise specialists from the Faculty of Health Sciences and delivered as a community-based service effectively pulls together all the threads that will ensure its long term sustainability and success.
Proven results life-affirming outcomes individuals placed at the centre of care and decision making collaboration with families and the community and a commitment to ongoing research and the pursuit of world-class treatments.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is an outstanding and vital initiative deserving our highest praise and support.
I am really delighted now to officially launch the Walk On program and to acknowledge the establishment of the first Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and Spinal Cure Australia PhD Scholarship, tenable in 2011, for the proper investigation of the physical, social and economic impacts of the program on quality of life and participation.
On behalf of all Australians, my congratulations to the partners – Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, Spinal Cure Australia and the University of Sydney, the exercise specialists, the student clinicians and our Walk On aspirants and graduates.
I hope your steps from here are big and bold and rewarding.
Friends, thank you.”