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Our history

Milestones in ParaQuad’s History



13 March 1961
The Paraplegic Association of NSW was incorporated

Its key goals were to lobby for specialised spinal injuries units and to establish accommodation facilities for people with severe spinal cord injury.


Paranews, our first member newsletter is produced


17 November 1962
The Association hosted the 2nd National Paraplegic Games

Held at Gore Hill Oval near Sydney.
It also sponsored 24 athletes to participate in the first Commonwealth Paraplegic Games held in November in Perth.


The Silver Wheel Committee was established and focused on raising money for the Association.


The Association established a centralised purchasing scheme

under its Welfare Department, to provide continence and pressure prevention aids to members in response to difficulties members encountered in getting access to these products at reasonable prices.


Successfully lobbied the NSW Government for the development and expansion of spinal injuries units at Royal North Shore and Prince Henry Hospitals.


The Workshop began
(later ParaQuad Industries)

operations and was one of the first sheltered workshops in NSW providing employment to people with disability.


Hosted the 7th National Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Games at Merrylands.

The Association continued its strong association with wheelchair sports in 1972 establishing the Paraplegic Sports Club. This led to international competitions and the support of an Australian Team to compete in the 1979 International Stoke Mandeville Games in the UK – the precursor to the Paralympics.

Facilitated driving lessons for members with a qualified driving instructor who was also paraplegic.

This continued until 1989 when courses became available through the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service and Cumberland College, Lidcombe.


The Quest of Nations fundraising and awareness raising event

held annually with the finals televised live on Channel 9 and covered by the Australian Women’s Weekly magazine.


ParaQuad Engineering established

fitting hand controls into cars, manufacturing tailored controls, repositioning car seats and for those with quadriplegia, installing switches for indicator lights and high beam into car headrests. It also constructed and repaired wheelchairs.


The first Golden Stave luncheon is held at Sydney’s Sebel Town House,

the only fundraising event supported by the entire music and entertainment industry in Australia. The fundraising luncheons and events ran for over 30 years.


30 March 1979

The Hon. Malcolm Fraser, Prime Minister officially opened Ferguson Lodge, the first support accommodation facility for those with spinal cord injury.


The Association established its Northern Region Branch in Newcastle.


Introduction of wheelchair accessible taxis and training for taxi drivers.

The Association became more involved in lobbying with key achievements including the establishment of the Mobility Allowance in 1983.


The Welfare Department expanded its operations to include:

rehabilitation officers, a spinal nurse, rehabilitation counsellor and a continence advisor. The Welfare Department also commenced the preparation of highly regarded medico-legal reports for members who had sustained a spinal cord injury via a motor vehicle accident.


The newsletter, Paranews is renamed ParaQuad News.


Sporting and outdoor activities were expanded,

with a Fishing Club, weekly swimming sessions at the Western Suburbs Hydrotherapy Pool, horticulture classes at Ferguson Lodge, gliding with the Southern Cross Gliding Club and weekly rowing sessions with the NSW Adapted Rowing Programme at Glebe Rowing Club.

Late 1980’s

The Community Development Program provided a weekly social club, plus a Parents and Friends Support Group.

Late 1980’s

The Association employed Occupational Therapists as part of its Community Living Service.


The Association established the Attendant Care Service

to provide in-home personal care and became a provider under the Government-funded Attendant Care Scheme.


The Community Development program expanded its activities

to include drama classes, wheelchair dancing and dragon boat racing.

The centralised purchasing scheme evolved into:

into Personal Equipment and Continence Supplies (PECS). Originally established in 1964, to aid selling and distributing crucial supplies to members.

Early 1990’s

With the Government Rehabilitation Service Network now providing many services

the Association re-evaluated how to more effectively use its resources to eliminate duplication with the Government on service provision. This evolved into the launch of the Community Services Division which provided a Peer Support Program, Regional Network Program, Community Spinal Advisory Service (paving the way for the Spinal Outreach Service) and the Community Living Service.


Key partner in research group at pilot multi-disciplinary outreach clinic at Lourdes Hospital in Dubbo.

Called the Rural Spinal Cord Injury Project, it confirmed the need for multi-disciplinary clinics in regional areas and led to a three-year trial examining the effectiveness of these types of clinics. The clinic was created by The Association, with funding from the Motor Accidents Authority and in partnership with the Spinal Injury Units from Royal North Shore and Prince of Wales Hospitals.



The Association moved to its first ever purpose built headquarters at Newington,

which was officially opened by the Governor of NSW, Marie Bashir, who was also the Association’s Patron.


Wendy Potter was the first woman to be appointed as Chairman of the Board.

A Mobility and Functional Support contract with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs commenced

providing over 2,000 products to returned servicemen and women who are registered with the Department.


BrightSky Australia was launched as the social enterprise of ParaQuad NSW

selling a broad range of medical consumable products to customers both nationally and internationally.

Clinical Services established to provide a range of services including:

continence and wound care product application advice, continence consults and assessments.


BrightSky Clinical launched the BeBright Study Series

providing clinical education for healthcare professionals.


The new Ferguson Lodge was officially opened at Lidcombe

After a 4 year construction period the new Ferguson Lodge opened on the Lidcombe site. Dedicated to the support and care of people living with spinal cord injury the new site incorporated most recent designs in supported living including individual accommodation, a main building of two 12-bedded wings and, separately, ten villas. Accommodation would be available on a short, medium and long-term basis.


NDIS first introduced

The most far-reaching program designed to support Australians living with a disability – the National Disability Insurance Scheme – was launched. Expected to support more than 500,000 Australians living with a disability at its height at a cost of $22 billion per year, ParaQuad NSW was involved from inception during the initial trials held in the Hunter region of NSW.


ParaQuad NT office and BrightSky distribution opens

the Association expanded its footprint into the Northern Territory, a region that poses particular challenges for people living with spinal cord injury.


BrightSky Brisbane warehouse opens


Newington warehouse refit is completed

A substantial investment designed to double the capacity and greatly increase efficiencies was carried out between December 2020 and March 2021. The investment was in response to strong ongoing growth of BrightSky in serving NDIS and other customers across Australia.

Home and Living Supports function established

Bringing together our home care and accommodation functions, Home and Living Supports allows for greater coordination and integration of these two areas – alignment with NDIS philosophy.

ParaQuad changes its name to Forward Ability Support

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