• Annual Report 2021

    AQA Victoria Ltd
Michelle O'Sullivan, Chair.

Chair and CEO Report

Welcome to our Annual Report for 2021. On behalf of our Directors, Staff and Volunteers, we invite you to look through this report and share in the achievements of AQA people in pursuit of our purpose. 

Fair to say 2021 has been a year of relentless challenge and change, as we have navigated the Community and Public Health Response to the CoVid19 pandemic. 

We want to recognise the commitment, flexibility and resilience of all our staff and volunteers, and the parts they have played negotiating this time.

We thank all our people for continuing to support the Clients and Community we serve. In this context the achievements of the year are remarkable.
Read the rest of the story
Peter Trethewey, CEO.

Board committee reports

​The AQA Board is informed by four committees: Governance (convened by the Board Chair); Quality & Risk; Strategy; and Finance & Audit.

Quality & Risk

The Quality and Risk Committee works to empower our people and to empower our clients through supplying robust risk and compliance advice to the Board. 

Read the report


The Strategy Committee met four times and despite Covid-19 were able to plan the direction of AQA in line with the AQA Strategy House developed in 2020.
Read the report

Finance & Audit

The Finance & Audit Committee reviews the financial performance of the organisation and works with the Executive to challenge systems and processes.

Read the report

Key Numbers


Hours of in-home and in-community service delivered


Hours of Support Coordination delivered


Hours of peer led and allied health services delivered


Community Network gatherings facilitated


Active peer mentors and other volunteers


Volunteer hours contributed


The path to refreshing our brand language and resetting our strategy brought enhanced appreciation of our strengths and a broader understanding of our mission. Our Living Well project pioneered a more integrated and powerful approach to resourcing people from lived experience, and the expansion of our Allied Health team extended our services menu.

​Strategy and brand language

After a deep dive into the history of our organisation and some reflecting on why we do what we do, we have revised our brand language and articulated three strategic pillars that support our intention to scale our impact.

The revised brand language expresses our purpose as Resourcing People to Live Well. Our focus on resourcing, and our elevating of those we resource, from people living with spinal-cord injury to people generally, draws from our peer-led understanding that each of us may contribute to those who contribute to us.      
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Living Well project

​The Living Well project seeks to build on practice that is both informed and delivered by people with lived experience of spinal cord injury or a similar disability. 

Activities founded on goal-setting, strength identification and skills building are delivered in the participant's community, and are designed to enhance their capacity to live well and fully.
Read more

Allied health expansion

​Over 2020-21 we have made good on our intention to develop an allied health service that is informed from lived experience. A team of six support coordinators and occupational therapists is building its reputation on its capacity to accommodate complex circumstances and deliver impartial advice.

Meet the team (opens new tab)

Strategic pillars

Three strategic pillars support our intention to scale our impact: Create experiences that empower our clients; Empower our people to be more effective; Build our sustainability. Our reciprocal approach to resourcing presents us with pillars that are mutually reinforcing: for example, clients whom we resource may also be people who resource other clients.  

​Empowering our clients

​Over 2020 and 2021 we have grown our lived experience and allied health teams under the unified banner of Community Engagement, allowing us for the first time to explore the full range of AQA resources with new people from a single gateway.

We have lifted the readability of the AQA magazine NewsLink, and have made our scheduling staff more available to clients of our in-home and in-community services.

Community engagement

People inquiring about AQA resources now have a single point of entry from which they can learn about the full range of supports, services and other resources we offer.

Resourcing that point of entry is Mark Hanson, Community Engagement Coordinator, a qualified Occupational Therapist with lived experience of spinal cord injury.

Read more

Enhancing our accessibility

Telephone support for AQA in-home services has always been available 24-hours. However, this year we have extended the accessibility to our clients of the in-office Scheduling and Allocations team at AQA, which is now available from 8:30am to 9pm weekdays. Clients and support workers alike have welcomed the enhanced communication and more direct support. 

Sharing experience

People in the AQA community resource one another through sharing their experience. 

They might do so through our Peer Mentor program, as Peer Coaches for our personal development workshop Discovering the Power in Me, in meeting face to face and online through our Community Networks, or in contributing and sourcing powerful stories published on our website and in our free bimonthly magazine, NewsLink.

Read More

The whole is more than the parts: Dion's story

Long-haul truck driver Dion Woodward found himself unemployed and unable to walk after a tumour developed on his spinal column. He tells of how his engaging with a broad range of AQA resources transformed not only his capacity to sustain himself independently but also his outlook on life.

Read Dion's story (opens new tab)
“I feel part of a community. I’ve learnt so much from everyone I’ve met, and been so inspired by them.”

​Empowering our people

​The phrase our people paints with a broad  brush at AQA, encompassing our lived-experience volunteers and coaches, other volunteers and pro-bono contributors, our office staff, and our extensive roster of community staff who bring so much dedication and commitment to resourcing our clients.

This year our Living Well project piloted a training program for people living with spinal cord injury that would prepare them to be Peer Leaders at Living Well residential courses. We engaged our volunteer Peer Mentors in more than 1500 hours of support and debriefing sessions, and trained 10 new team members. 

We developed an Occupational Health and Safety Management System for all our staff under the banner Safety For Everyone, began to test our digital Customer Relationship Management system, and supported our dedicated community staff with communication and PPE as they adapted to ever-changing Covid-19 requirements.   

Read More

​Building our sustainability

Among a range of projects that fall under the head of building our sustainability have been the redefining of AQA's high-level strategy, the reimagining of our brand and brand language, the reshaping of our online presence, and the relocation of our business processes to cloud-based systems that will make us easier to transact with - our Digital Transformation project.

Website development

We have redeveloped our former corporate website at, which had formerly served as a gateway to separate sites for our in-home services and our peer support. A key objective was to reflect the integration of our services with our lived-experience resources, a development well under way at the office.

Read More

Joining the conversation

One of the ways in which AQA can resource our community is by presenting a view on public policy and other matters that will or may affect us. 

This year we have supported the Disability Doesn't Discriminate campaign coordinated by spinal cord injury support organisation Spinal Life Australia. We have also made a strong case to the Australian Parliament opposing the compulsory introduction of independent assessments for NDIS participants, arguing that independent assessment should instead be made optional.

Read about our submission on NDIS independent assessment (opens new tab)
Read our story in support of Disability Doesn't Discriminate (opens new tab)

Digital Transformation Project

Despite a few setbacks, AQA's Digital Transformation is back on track and is gearing towards a successful implementation and roll out of our Go-Live with Rostering, Payroll, Finance, and CRM. Per current planning and schedule of activities and events we anticipate our go live to be July 2022. 

The setbacks and delays resulting in timeline push-outs have been primarily driven by the pandemic, and the unique functionality of the previous rostering platform required us to venture out again in the market for a more capable system.
Read More

Our Board

Michelle O'Sullivan
BSW, Social Work; Grad Dip Rehab; Mast App.Sc, ISM​​
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 
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 is keenly aware of how valuable AQA resources can be, having observed the profound ways in which a mid-life equestrian accident affected his father. He has preferred to work in environments where there is a clear social purpose, and 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 
​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)
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

Our Partners

Funding bodies

  • National Disability Insurance Agency – individual support packages to people with disabilities
  • Transport Accident Commission – individual support packages to people with disabilities, and innovation project funding

Industry and Project Associates

  • Austin Health - Victorian Spinal Cord Service
  • Alfred Health - Caulfield General Medical Centre
  • Transport Accident Commission
  • Independence Australia
  • Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (NSW)
  • Spinal Life Australia (QLD)
  • Paraquad NSW
  • Paraquad South Australia
  • Paraquad Tasmania
  • Disability Sport & Recreation

Industry and Project Associates, cont.

  • LaTrobe University
  • Monash University
  • Swinburne University
  • Wendy Brooks & Partners
  • Workwell
  • Global Leadership Foundation
  • The Robert Rose Foundation

Legal Services

  • Clayton Utz

Event sponsors

  • Miles Real Estate
  • Hollister

Corporate Supporters

  • Hollister
  • Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

​Financial Report

The Full Financial Reports for the financial year 2020/21 including a summary of significant accounting policies, other explanatory notes and declaration from Directors and Auditors are located on the AQA website, and can be opened from the image below.