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Rachael McDonald (Australian Chair)

Associate Professor Rachael McDonald is a clinical, research and teaching Health Professional with an interest in enabling people with lifelong disabilities to participate in life situations. She has worked extensively in this field, within both children’s services and adult settings, and has worked in the area of wheelchair and seating provision and evaluation for over 20 years across the UK and Australia. She supervises research (honour’s, MSc and PhD) students specialising in the care of people with complex disability, and has published widely. She previously held a joint appointment with the Department of Occupational Therapy and the Centre for Developmental Disability Health Victoria at Monash University. Her role at CDDHV included health professional education and leading research activities, however her interest in using technology as an enabler but also as a tool for collecting objective evidence was a feature of her occupational therapy research. This interest has led to her recent appointment as the Chair of the Department of Health and Medical Science at Swinburne University of Technology, where this research is developing further and she is looking forward to more in depth applications of technology to improving the experience of people who use seating and wheelchairs.

Debbie Wilson (New Zealand Chair)

BappScOT, NZROT, Managing Director & Clinical Specialist, Seating To Go, New Zealand

Deb is an Occupational Therapist with over 35 years experience working with people with mobility and positioning challenges. She is Managing Director of Seating To Go, a leading New Zealand wheelchair and seating assessment, training and repair service. In 2009 she was project lead for a Ministry of Health pilot which led to the wheeled mobility and postural management credential for occupational therapists and physiotherapists in New Zealand. Seating to Go is the Ministry of Health approved training provider with Deb facilitating the Level 2 (Complex) training workshops which form part of the competency pathway. Deb regularly presents at a national and international level, is the New Zealand Chair for the Oceania Seating Symposium and was instrumental in establishing a partnership with Motivation Australia to support capacity building in the Pacific Islands. Seating To Go’s values of collaboration, innovation, integrity and best practice provide the framework for her practice and service development goals.

Andrew Congdon

B.App.Sc OT.  Andrew is an Occupational Therapist and has worked in the Assistive Technology sector for 15 years primarily focussed on seating and mobility. He was worked throughout Australia and overseas in less-resourced settings for government and non-government organisations, and is currently based in the Northern Territory, Australia. Andrew has a particular interest in the delivery of services in rural and remote settings, and how Assistive Technology is designed and applied in more challenging and remote environments.

Andrew has contributed to the development and delivery of the WHO Wheelchair Service Training Packages (WSTP) in the Asia Pacific region and is an ARATA (Australian Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Association) Board member. He recently launched his own Occupational Therapy service Assistive Technology Lab which is undertaking project and client work specific to Assistive Technology.

Bonita Sawatzky

PhD, Associate Professor, Orthopaedics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Dr. Bonita Sawatzky is an associate professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver CANADA and works at ICORD, a research centre dedicated to Spinal Cord Injury and disease. She studies wheelchair innovations in design and people using wheelchairs effectively. She has published over 60 articles and has given more than 100 presentations at national and international conferences. She teaches all levels medical students about the issues related to professionalism and communication skills. Bonnie has been a member of the Vancouver ISS committee and now the Oceania Seating Smyposium.

Elizabeth Nade

Elizabeth Nade is currently the Consultant for Assistive Technology at Cerebral Palsy Alliance within the Clinical Governance and Practice Leadership team.  As an occupational therapist and seating consultant Elizabeth has 14 years’ experience in direct service provision as well as training, supporting and mentoring staff in the areas of complex seating and technology assessment, prescription and intervention.  Elizabeth has worked both in Australia and overseas, and has been involved in the delivery of the WHO Wheelchair Service Training Package Intermediate level in Fiji.  Her current role involves upskilling and training staff in complex and custom moulded seating assessment and provision and supporting staff through the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.  She is passionate in assisting others to achieve their goals through provision of assistive technology.

George Ajaka

General Manager GTK

George Ajaka is a driven, innovative and outcome focused manager and Occupational Therapist with over 18 years of seating and mobility experience. He has a passion for Assistive Technology with experiences and opportunities including developing, implementing and managing disability/ rehabilitation products, services, and AT teams. Clinically, George has been involved in over a thousand successful equipment prescriptions. He has presented at numerous conferences and regularly delivers workshops contributing to the professional development of therapists across NSW.

George’s mantra is simple, work out what the client wants and needs – then match the therapy and product solution to the individual.

Kim Vien

Kim Vien is a senior Occupational Therapist working in the disability sector specialising in the area of seating and equipment prescription in Melbourne Australia.  Having been in the disability sector for over 10 years, her work has lead to an keen interest in the area of seating and she is part of the Wheelchair and Seating Clinic Team at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Kim has presented on the topic of power standing at the 2017 Oceania Seating Symposium in New Zealand.

Kim graduated in 2005 at the University of South Australia and completed further honours research in health sciences.  She is currently working in the community sector on improving therapy services for adults with disabilities and their equipment needs.

Lauren Flaherty

Lauren’s background as an Occupational Therapist includes wheelchairs, seating and physical rehabilitation. She has worked in New Zealand and Ireland before settling in South Australia.

Role:  Lauren is responsible for building the capacity and resources of the team to deliver quality, appropriate support to our partner organisations who provide assistive technology (AT) in the Asia Pacific Region. This includes developing mobility device service systems and procedures; data collection and analysis tools; training materials; policies and procedures.

Lauren also provides in-country training and mentoring to AT service partners, with a particular focus on intermediate level wheelchairs and seating.

In addition, Lauren has contributed to the development of the WHO Wheelchair Service Training Packages (WSTP) and is a co-author of the WHO WSTP Training of Trainers Package (tot).

Lois Brown

Lois Brown, MPT, ATP/SMS is a physical therapist who has been practicing in the field of seating and wheeled mobility for 26 years prescribing equipment as a therapist, as a supplier and has been a clinical and funding educator for suppliers, manufacturers, and professional organizations.    Lois has presented nationally and internationally on Wheeled Mobility and Seating and Assistive Technology, including ISS (International Seating Symposium), ESS, (European Seating Symposium), OSS (Oceana Seating Symposium), CSMC (Canadian Seating and Mobility Conference) and RESNA (Rehab Engineering Society of North America).  Lois has been published in a variety of Rehab Publications and is considered an expert in her field

Mal Turnbull

In January 1980, at age 19, Mal Turnbull was a passenger in a motor vehicle accident which resulted in a complete spinal cord injury at T5 level. The experience of the acute post injury care, the subsequent rehab period and exposure to the real-life impact of pressure injury left a deep and abiding impact which resulted in some habits that are still a part of his daily routine. Since 1992 Mal has been involved in the Assistive Technology industry with a focus on equipment supply that deals with prevention of pressure injury and shoulder preservation. Having access to a worldwide network of therapists, clinicians, researchers, manufacturers and end-users, Mal has an exceptional understanding of evidence based best practice. Coupled with 36 years of lived experience of managing pressure injury risk and shoulder injury prevention, Mal has an all rounded approach to maintaining an active lifestyle.

Symposium Managers

We are pleased to join the team and bring you the 2019 OSS.  

Lu Budden & Dean Bradley 
Convention Management NZ Ltd
Phone: +64 4 479 4162

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