Polio Australia has been lobbying in Canberra for nationally consistent polio-specific services for you since 2007.

We thought you might like to know a bit more about the team.

Dr John Tierney PhD OAM
As a polio survivor, and President and National Patron of Polio Australia, coupled with fourteen distinguished years as a Federal Senator for NSW, John has all the necessary knowledge and experience to lead our lobbying team.

John currently provides strategic advice on government matters to corporate clients across a wide range of industries at both a Federal and State level in NSW. As well as his leadership and advisory roles with Polio Australia, John has also undertaken pro bono advisory work for Lifeline Australia and the Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented.

John has a passionate interest in the area of disability, having contracted polio at birth. He truly believes that going to Canberra in June is both important and worthwhile and is therefore the perfect person to be leading our delegation on 29th October.

Gillian Thomas
From 1988 Gillian has worked tirelessly for polio survivors through her roles on the Polio NSW Management Committee – initially as a member of the Working Party set up to establish the organisation, then as Secretary, and currently as President. Throughout this time Gillian has passionately believed in the need for a national voice for polio survivors.

Gillian and Neil von Schill were the driving force behind a meeting of all Australian State Polio Networks held in May 2007. At that meeting there was unanimous agreement to form Polio Australia and in 2008 Gillian was elected its inaugural President, serving four years in that role.

Currently Vice President of Polio Australia, Gillian brings to the team a thorough understanding of post-polio issues and of the lack of suitable services.

Mary-ann Liethof
Mary-ann worked as the Coordinator of Polio Network Victoria from mid 2004 to December 2009. During that time, Mary-ann was one of the Victorian representatives on the Management Committee of Polio Australia.

Following a small philanthropic donation and a private donation, Mary-ann was officially appointed as Polio Australia’s National Program Manager in early January 2010 on a part time basis, which increased to full time in January 2011 thanks to a three year donation from The Balnaves Foundation. Although this donation concluded at the end of 2013, Mary-ann’s contract with Polio Australia has been extended for a further three years.

 It may come as a surprise to know that Mary-ann is Polio Australia’s only full-time paid employee, considering the progress that has been made since she commenced:

  • Run five Late Effects of Polio Self Management Residential Program (also known as a Polio Health and Wellness Retreat) in New South Wales (2010, 2014), Victoria (2011), Queensland (2012) and South Australia (2013)
  • Successfully applied for numerous philanthropic organisations for funding to support activities
  • Presentations at two European Conferences on Post Polio Syndrome (2011, 2014) and at a Post-Polio Health International, USA, Conference (2014)
  • Coordinated annual Polio Awareness Month campaigns
  • Edited and prepared monthly “Reflections” and quarterly “Polio Oz News” electronic publications
  • Worked closely with GlaxoSmithKline to produce “The Late Effects of Polio: Introduction to Clinical Practice” resource module
  • Engaged and worked closely with health consultants to produce the second Clinical Practice Mofule: Managing Muscles and Mobility
  • Coordinated the “Touched by Polio” art exhibition and fundraising auction
  • Represented Polio Australia at various Inquiries and forums
  • Given presentations at various Rotary and other service clubs
  • Provided ongoing support to state-based Polio Networks
  • Undertaken the general daily running of Polio Australia, and more . . .

Kristy Rackham_230x300Kristy Rackham
Kristy joined the Polio Australia team this year as Health Education and Public Relations consultant. Her part-time consultancy is funded through donations.

Kristy’s experience in integrated health and natural therapies, particularly meditation, spans over 18 years. She now complements her extensive natural health experience with bio-medical knowledge as a Holistic Registered Nurse. Other qualifications include: Certificate IV in Integrated Therapeutic Massage and courses in modalities such as Matrix Reimprinting, EFT, Healing Touch and Reiki energy techniques, music therapy, ear candling, tissue salts and Bach Flowers. Her holistic health experience encompasses positions such as meditation facilitator, massage therapist, energy healing, chiropractic assistant and development director of a Melbourne based natural therapy centre, to name just a few.

Kristy published her first book titled ‘Head Space-Meditate Your Way to Study Success’ in 2010 to assist students of all ages to improve learning outcomes and reduce their stress levels  With a background in event management, communications, public relations and television production, Kristy possesses a unique blend of expertise and vast knowledge with which to educate and drive mainstream public towards having optimal lifestyle sustainability. She writes, speaks and facilitates workshops and seminars on holistic health and lifestyle sustainability with passion and enthusiasm.

Kristy’s primary directive is to educate and inform clients and the general public on illness prevention, chronic disease management and how to create ‘lifestyle sustainability’ using a whole-life approach to health care. With close family members diagnosed with chronic illnesses, and a grandmother who contracted polio, Kristy has a special interest in holistic lifestyle management of chronic pain, particularly the Late Effects of Polio and Post-Polio Syndrome.