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SpineCare Foundation

Driving research, developing resources and promoting education to support children with spinal cord injury and dysfunction.

Wheelchair user Sarah Walsh says a scholarship from the SpineCare has helped her achieve her educational goals

Our Initiatives

The SpineCare Foundation is a division of Northcott committed to funding research and educational initiatives that support children with spinal cord injury or dysfunction and their families.

The Foundation’s initiatives include:

  • Coordinating educational activities to share knowledge about spinal cord injury and dysfunction in children
  • Awarding tertiary scholarships for students who use wheelchairs
  • Funding Masters, PhD and postdoctoral research projects to increase the body of knowledge on paediatric spinal cord injury and dysfunction.


SpineCare is currently supporting two PhD projects in partnership with Western Sydney University;

  • Using proven cognitive strategies to improve outcomes for children with spinal cord injury or disease.
  • Transitioning children with spinal cord injury or disease to adult services using a peer support model.

Gathering insights

Our most important stakeholders are consumers impacted by spinal cord injury or dysfunction, be that through personal experience or the experience of caring for a child with spinal cord injury. In 2020, SpineCare, in partnership with Ability Forum, embarked on a market research project to gather first hand experiences about childhood spinal cord injury or dysfunction. The aim was to better inform current projects and future planning. Experiences were sought from parents and children impacted by childhood spinal cord injury or dysfunction, as well as a broader group of stakeholders including carers of children or adults who experienced their disability in childhood. Findings from the research will be used to shape SpineCare’s future activities.

Each year Northcott and The SpineCare Foundation proudly administer a suite of scholarship offerings;

The Gregory and Dolores Farrell Scholarship

The Gregory and Dolores Farrell Scholarships are supported by the family of the late Gregory and Dolores Farrell. Gregory Patrick Farrell OAM was a Founding Director of The SpineCare Foundation (established in 1981 as the Children’s Spinal Research Foundation). Funded by The Farrell Foundation and family members, this scholarship is open to students attending university who use a wheelchair as a primary form of mobility.

The Thomas K.F. Taylor Scholarship

Created in honour of one of The SpineCare Foundation’s Founding Directors, Professor Thomas Taylor remained an active contributor of The Foundation until his passing in 2016. This scholarship is a legacy of Professor Taylor’s immense passion for people who use wheelchairs furthering their education. Funded by The SpineCare Foundation, this scholarship is open to students with a disability attending university who use a wheelchair as a primary form of mobility.

The Thomas Hepburn Lennox Scholarship

This scholarship was established in memory of Thomas Hepburn Lennox (“Tom”). Tom migrated to Australia from Scotland in the 1940s, learned his trade as a plumber and acquired his passion as a plumbing teacher at TAFE, where he worked for over 40 years. Tom’s convivial and inspiring character endeared him to his students, many of whom became lifelong friends. That character of generosity extended to Tom’s involvement with The Northcott Society, where he worked as a volunteer for nearly 20 years. During his time at Northcott the scholarship was established to The scholarships assist customers in areas which may fall outside other available benefits. Tom’s passion for education is reflected in the objectives of the scholarship to assist Northcott customers in broad educational needs. Funded by Thomas Hepburn Lennox Scholarship Trust, this scholarship is open to students with a physical disability who are past or present Northcott customers, studying at University, TAFE or a Registered Training Organisation. Priority of support is to people from disadvantaged financial backgrounds.

Wendy Hall Scholarship

Shortly before passing away in early 2015, beloved and long-serving Northcott staff member Wendy Hall asked her family and friends to donate money in lieu of flowers. Wendy requested that the money be used to fund a Northcott scholarship that would enable people with disability to further their education. Wendy was passionate about ensuring people with disability had equitable access to appropriate services.

Funded through donations raised by Wendy’s family, friends and colleagues, this scholarship is open to students with disability who are past or present Northcott customers, studying at University, TAFE or a Registered Training Organisation. Priority of support is to people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, or live in rural and remote areas.

Dr Dinesh Palipana

Dinesh was the first medical student with quadriplegia to go through university in Australia. A recipient of the Gregory and Dolores Farrell Scholarship from The SpineCare Foundation, Dinesh recognises the significant impact that the scholarship made in his education and training. Having a spinal cord injury and studying to be a doctor presented many unique challenges. The scholarship provided the necessary support to cover the additional education costs, and even facilitated a placement to Harvard Medical School for enriched study in radiology.

“I am a doctor in the emergency department of the Gold Coast University Hospital. I am also a researcher in spinal cord injury at Griffith University, where I am also a lecturer. I am a doctor for the Gold Coast Titans disability rugby league team. When I applied for the scholarship, there were very few scholarships for medical students. It gave me a huge financial leg up and also boosted my morale, because Northcott believed in me.”

As a piece of advice for others with disability considering tertiary study, Dinesh says: “Do it. Education is a powerful thing; it will empower you to pursue your dreams and to change the world.”

Dinish, a doctor in a wheelchair working at a hospital
Ben and his family in front of the university

Benjamin Kende

After an accident whilst representing Hong Kong at the under-20 Asian Rugby Championships in Thailand in 2010, Ben’s life changed forever. He was forced to endure relentless physical and mental battles with quadriplegia but he persevered. Ben decided to pursue a career in law, and he initially struggled to fund the degree. The SpineCare Foundation’s Gregory and Delores Farrell Scholarship made a big difference for both him and his family.

“I’m working as a lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright, as part of their graduate program and I am really enjoying it. I’m learning so much every day and can see myself in the industry for a very long time.” When asked about a piece of advice for others with disability considering tertiary study, Ben says: “Just take the plunge. There are awesome services and people who will help you through it all. Get in touch with the disability services team at the university you’d like to go; there is a lot out there for you.”

If you’re planning on attending University in 2024 and use a wheelchair for mobility, consider applying for a scholarship! The main round for applications will be in November/December each year, however we welcome enquires at other times to discuss your unique circumstances.

Empowering people to believe, strive and achieve

Are you studying or planning to study at University, TAFE or a Registered Training Organisation in 2024? Do you have a disability and are motivated to gain a formal qualification? Northcott and The SpineCare Foundation are proud to award scholarships to people with a physical disability who are considering or currently enrolled in tertiary study. These offerings are made possible by the support of several Trusts and Foundations, united by a common commitment to support people with disability to further their education.

The purpose

The aim of each scholarship is to support a student’s integration into tertiary education. It is known that students with disability may have additional obstacles to overcome in accessing tertiary education, particularly the additional costs involved, which can be considerable and variable.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must have a primary disability, be an Australian citizen, have been accepted into or be enrolled in tertiary study in NSW. Students who are proceeding to a higher degree (post-graduate) in Australia or overseas are also welcome to apply.

Use of funds

Awarded scholarship recipients may use the funds to assist with tertiary study costs such as library and internet charges, purchase of text books, on-campus accommodation, transport costs, computer hardware and software, stationery, personal care and scribes/tutors. Funds may not be used for course fees (including HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP).

Applications for the 2024 academic year are open


  1. Read the Student Handbook and Scholarships for Tertiary Education Booklet
  2. Complete the Application Form, either in writing, via video or other preferred format (ensuring that you respond to the application questions).
  3. Submit your application by Wednesday 22 November 2023 5pm.
  4. Be available for interview time TBA late November (either in person at Northcott’s North Parramatta office or video link), for select applicants

Any questions, contact us via phone or email below.

Call us on 0439 166 268

Resource library

Dominic Freestone openly talks about how he acquired his cord injury
Download Dom’s podcast
Medikidz Explain Spinal Cord Injury

Accessibility and Inclusivity

We respect and honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on this land and commit to building a brighter future together.

Read more about our commitment to reconciliation

Montrose is now part of Northcott!

Welcome to our new website.

If you have any questions, please speak to your Service Manager, Service Coordinator or call us on 1800 818 286.