Family support plays a critical role in Australians with spinal cord injuries participating fully in society, new UNSW research has found.

UNSW’s Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) conducted Research into Maximising Life Choices of People with a Spinal Cord Injury on behalf of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia.

“Physical and emotional wellbeing is fundamental to participating in society and taking full advantage of opportunities,” said lead author and SPRC Senior Research Fellow, Rosemary Kayess.

“The role of the family is crucial in terms of people with spinal cord injuries achieving these goals.”

State Minister for Ageing and Disability Services, John Ajaka, said the report took a refreshing approach by asking people with spinal cord injuries about their real life experiences.

“The approach adopted by the report is consistent with the values of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) which values individual opinions and experiences,” Mr Ajaka said. “Under the NDIS people with disability will make decisions about their life, and be able to choose and take control of the services they use.”

The report surveyed more than 100 Australians with spinal cord injuries ranging from 18 to 76 years.

Advances in critical care and rehabilitation mean life expectancy for Australians with spinal cord injuries is comparable with the general population but there is still progress to be made in improving quality of life.

“Without change people will continue to face barriers in key areas of life leading to social isolation,” said Kayess.

The report highlighted areas of importance for people with spinal cord injuries including: having support to maintain and improve health, supporting participation in family and social life, promoting participation in the workforce, increasing financial security, increasing  accessible housing, facilities and transport.

“Access to resources to maximise opportunities and capabilities are necessary for people to be able to make life choices and experience social inclusion,” said Kayess.

Media contact: Fran Strachan, UNSW Media office | 9385 8732 | 0429 416 070