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How participating in community networks has helped me live well

18 January, 2021

Barbara had a spinal cord injury in 2005 and completed her rehab at Olympia Private Rehabilitation Hospital in the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury. Olympia Private wasn’t dedicated to the rehab of people who have SCI, and so Barbara didn’t receive peer mentoring until she met AQA staff at a Regional Special Clinic operated by Austin Health. Barbara, who has recently relocated to New Zealand, wanted to share her experience.

My name is Barbara Simpson and as I am in the process of leaving Australia – my home for the past 37 years – to return to New Zealand, I would like to take this opportunity to give a huge THANK YOU to everyone at AQA and the Ballarat Regional Community Spinal Support Group for all your help, guidance, education on spinal cord injuries, and fun outings, but more importantly your support and friendship. 

I became a paraplegic in February 2005 and joined AQA later that year.  I apparently met AQA staff member Peter Van Benthem sometime during my three months of rehabilitation at Olympia Private Rehabilitation Hospital in Thornbury. Sadly I have no recollection of us meeting but Peter did – sorry Peter.

A chance to share

I met Naz Erdem, the AQA Peer Support coordinator, and Peter, the Community Networks coordinator, in Ballarat in November 2005 at a Spinal Review Clinic which was run out of the Queen Elizabeth Centre, organised by Austin Health. Naz and Peter talked about AQA and the benefits of becoming a member. Without hesitation I joined and it has been a wonderful experience.

Being a member of AQA has given me the chance to share ideas, share problems, and share ways to overcome problems.

Being a member of AQA has given me a better understanding of my spinal cord injury and a chance to be able to share ideas, share problems, and sharing ways to solve or overcome them and help each other. Like everyone who has a spinal cord injury, it is life changing and scary, so having AQA and Ballarat Regional Community Support Group have helped me immensely. I look forward to keeping in touch and seeing what is happening via Facebook.

Stay safe everyone.

Barbara Simpson has been living with a spinal cord injury since 2005. She has been heavily involved with AQA's Women’s and Ballarat community networks.  

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