AQA

Our purpose

AQA exists to resource people to live well.

Our vision

An inclusive community where people have access to the resources they need to meet the challenges of change and live fully.

Who we are

AQA is a member-based not-for-profit organisation and a registered public company limited by guarantee. For more than 30 years, we have resourced people whose lives have been disrupted by injuries, illnesses, and other events, to participate in all aspects of life and contribute.

Our history

Formed in January 1987 from the Melbourne office of the Australian Quadriplegic Association, which had operated it as a subsidised workplace, AQA Victoria Ltd rapidly built a highly respected and peer-led attendant care business, established an information hub, and pioneered a peer-support outreach service in collaboration with Austin Health. 

Over the past decade we have expanded the scope of the supports we provide to clients across a broad spectrum of complex neuromuscular and other disorders. We have trained an extensive register of peer mentors and coaches, whose services are available informally and through the NDIS. We have taken our information service and bimonthly newsletter online through our Spire website. And we continue to sustain more than 400 support workers from diverse backgrounds with meaningful employment.  

A thematic history of AQA

1. How AQA got its name

AQA began as a branch office for the Australian Quadriplegic Association. Ordered to cut ties, it cheekily adapted the parent’s branding.


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2. The founding of AQA services

AQA began to deliver individualised in-home services in 1991 through the Qualcare respite program, led by polio survivor Mary Reid OAM. 

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3. The friendly organisation

From its earliest days, AQA stood out as a place where people could find supportive relationships when facing grievous life-changes.


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4. Pioneering peer support

How compassionate visits to spinal-injury wards grew into an extensive network of trained peer-support mentors and coaches.


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5. From shelter to innovator

Led by Peter Trethewey, AQA is seeking to build appreciation for the skills people gain from living through profoundly challenging events.


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Our projects

Peer Coaching

Peer coaching is a natural extension of peer support that focuses on specific areas such as health, mobility or employment. Led by Nazim Erdem OAM, it is delivered by trained coaches with significant experience of living with a spinal cord injury and success in their area of coaching. The overall aim is to help people develop skills, frame expectations, make decisions, and explore their potential.

Community and Regional Networks

At AQA, we believe that people can benefit from sharing their experiences of life with a spinal cord injury or similar disability. We have been establishing community networks that help people extend knowledge, enjoy social events, and enhance community participation. Led by Peter Van Benthem, this project aims to expand our regional and interest-based networks and support them to become self-sustaining.

Allied Health

AQA is committed to extending the range of services we provide through our individualised service partnership packages to include allied health services such as occupational therapy, physiotherapy and dietetics. The goal of each new service developed in this project, led by Emma O'Brien, will be to help participants in the AQA community build the capacity to live in fulfilling, contributing ways. 

Digital Transformation

AQA is rolling out a Digital Transformation Program that will equip our people with capable and intuitive tools to help them perform, collaborate, excel and innovate. Led by Tushar Kelkar, this project will harness new software systems and provide an integrated business and operational solution for the whole of AQA. It will make AQA business processes much more efficient and direct, shifting the focus from processes to our customers and other users.



Story Sharing and Public Engagement

Inspiring narratives abound in all corners of the AQA community, where people representing a broad spectrum of backgrounds support one another to live authentically. Led by Ian Baker, AQA's public engagement project seeks to facilitate the sharing of these stories among AQA participants and the broader community.

Our strategy

Strategic plan

AQA's strategic intent is to scale our impact through pursuing three strategic imperatives, namely:

  1. Create experiences that empower our clients;
  2. Empower our people to be more effective;
  3. Build our sustainability.

Our Strategic Plan on a Page can be downloaded from the thumbnail image.

Our Board

Michelle O'Sullivan
BSW, Social Work; Grad Dip Rehab; Mast App.Sc, ISM​​
Chairperson; 
Convenor of Governance Committee

Michelle was introduced to AQA through her work at the Transport Accident Commission, where for many years she managed clients with acquired brain injury or spinal cord injury. Over that part of her career she was most engaged by the opportunity to resource people as they realised their passions and developed their potential after injury. She sees AQA’s values and peer-based philosophy as aligned very closely with her own.


Michelle has a sound background in industrial relations, and is experienced in not-for-profit governance, organisational development, employee management, and State Government compliance.


Board member since April 2013

Dave Jacka 
Member of Quality & Risk Committee

David is passionate about challenging community perceptions of what a person living with disability can achieve through doing things differently - perhaps by designing innovative engineering solutions, or engaging community support for an adventure.

David represented Australia at the 1996 Paralympics in wheelchair rugby, and has since flown a light aircraft solo around Australia and paddled the 2226 km length of the Murray River in a kayak. He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2015, for his contribution to people with a disability  through sport. He has been living with quadriplegia from a spinal cord injury since 1988.

David has worked in consultancy and government sectors across engineering, project management and governance disciplines. He is an adventurer, author, and speaker, and he volunteers with AQA as a Peer Mentor. 

Board member since May 2017


Kylie Thitchener 
BN, MHSM (Mon), MAICD
Convenor of Quality & Risk Committee

Kylie is the Director of Quality and Patient Safety at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. She works with Peter MacCallum stakeholders to implement strategies to reduce the frequency of preventable adverse events. She is also a Board Director of the East Wimmera Health Service. 

Kylie is a health care professional who specialised in clinical governance and enterprise risk management in the acute health sector. With extensive experience in both the clinical and non-clinical environments including project management, quality improvement, leadership and management of teams, Kylie strives to utilise teams to improve service delivery aimed at providing better health outcomes and experiences for patients. Kylie began as an emergency nurse before focusing on risk management. She holds a Masters in Health Services Management and has worked in hospitals in Australia and the United States.

Board member since July 2019

David Schreuder 
B.Sc/LLB (Victorian Legal Practising Certificate 2021)
Deputy Chairperson; Company Secretary;Member of Quality & Risk Committee

David has extensive legal, regulatory and compliance experience across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors in Australia and the United Kingdom. David is Director of the Housing Registrar and responsible for the regulation of community housing providers in Victoria.

Board member since March 2014


Joe Rose'Meyer 
MBM / DipMA
​Convenor of Strategy Committee

Joe has served the AQA Board in committee roles since 2012, having been invited to contribute from his business experience. Through his associations with other inspiring personalities working with AQA, he has become passionate about creating opportunities so that anyone with a disability can grow, develop and experience life to its fullest. He joined the Board as a Director in 2019.


Joe has a background in Sales, Marketing, Value Based Commercialisation, and Strategy Development and Implementation. He has worked for large FMCG retailers and manufacturers, among them Coles Myer, SPC Ardmona and Coca-Cola Amatil, and has been President of SMART Networking Group. He is General Manager of Australia's leading organic health foods and products distributor.


Board member since July 2019


Alasdair McMillan 
MBA (Exec)
​Treasurer; 
Convenor of Finance & Audit Committee

Alasdair is a large-enterprise commercial leader and strategist, with diverse experience working across industries such as FMCG, pharmaceutical, marketing data, IT, venture capital, professional consulting and SME. 

Alasdair has commercial whole-of-business awareness and an ability to provide strategic solutions. He is a recognized expert in marketing and pricing strategies that give win/win outcomes for consumers, retailers and producers alike. He has extensive experience as a member of the key management team in whole-of-enterprise strategy development and implementation.

Board member since December 2019

Brydie Quinn

Master of Public Policy and Management
Member of Strategy Committee


Brydie is passionate about providing opportunities to people living with disabilities, and has a particular interest in engaging frontline workers through increased education, supervision supports, and the application of frameworks in practice.

 

She is the National Head of Quality and Innovation at Able Australia, leading a team pursuing innovative approaches to supporting people’s needs and ensuring NDIS Quality and Safeguards requirements are met and exceeded. 

 

Brydie has more than a decade of experience as a Director in Victoria’s public hospitals, tackling issues of patient flow and access, quality and risk management, and transition supports. Prior to this, she held strategic advisory and project roles with the Victorian Department of Health and the Commonwealth Department of Health.


Board member since February 2021

AQA Victoria Ltd (AQA) is a registered, public company limited by guarantee. The company has a constitution which outlines the organisation's key objectives and matters relating to membership, the appointment process of directors and their duties, scope of activities under which the board directors may act and procedural matters pertaining to the conduct of meetings.


The constitution makes provision for appointment of nine (9) board directors. All positions are honorary appointments. The board currently comprises six non-executive directors. Appointment of directors is made on the basis of skill, experience and empathy with people with disability.

All directors are aware of their obligations in relation to declaring conflicts and interests. Standing items at each board meeting include provision for amendments and updating of declarations prior to Board decisions and Directors make an annual declaration of interests to the Company's independent auditors. 
The board meets monthly and convenes four committees to support the good governance of the organisation:
  • Finance & Audit
  • Quality & Risk
  • Governance
  • Strategy


Each committee operates under terms of reference and annual work plans that address strategic priorities, contribute to the Board's assurance framework and make recommendations to the Board. All Directors serve on at least one committee.

Annual reports

Financial reports

Workplace Gender Equality reports

Constitution, Strategy, Policies