Rhiannon Tracey – Founder
On September 18, 2009, Rhiannon Tracey awoke with elation on a warm, blissful day in Bali on a dream holiday. Little did she know that the day was to end in tragedy; after diving into a pool, Rhiannon’s life would change forever. A spinal cord injury from the accident meant that Rhiannon was diagnosed as a C-5 quadriplegic. She was given only the faintest of hope of being able to walk again, just a few months away from turning 21.
After the accident, Rhiannon’s emergency surgery was delayed by nine hours due to a horrific earthquake on Indonesian shores. She was moments from death after her lungs had collapsed, and a hospital ward was left deserted as people ran for cover. Later, two nurses were flown in from Australia under her travel insurance, and they treated her for the huge amounts of water that were in her lungs. Then finally two weeks after, she was flown to an Australian hospital and underwent two more lifesaving surgeries.
With a strong love for animals, Rhiannon worked as a veterinary nurse before the accident, and was an aspiring singer. Her outgoing and bubbly personality was contagious, and an extremely bright future lay ahead of her. But when doctors told her she would never walk again, they advised her to sell her beloved RAV4, as she would never be physically able to drive it again. Being the tenacious person she is, Rhiannon would not simply accept this, and she set out to prove them wrong.
Her only ambition from then on was to able to regain her independence. In 2011, two years after her accident, Rhiannon proved the doctors wrong and and can can now walk short distances with crutches, and can drive her modified RAV4.
Rhiannon is living proof of the limitless potential of the human spirit. For long distances, she still requires a wheelchair, but through her hard work and commitment she has surprised doctors and proved that anything is possible.
Since her injury, Rhiannon decided to use her experience to create a positive outcome for others living with spinal cord injuries. In 2012 Rhiannon, with the help of her mother Sharyn, founded The Next Step (TNS) as a not-for-profit organisation, and opened The Next Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Centre in 2014 in Thomastown, Victoria. The Next Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Centre is a recovery facility for those with neurological disorders who want to obtain a greater quality of life and regain their independence.
Since her accident and founding TNS, Rhiannon has dedicated her life to helping others and building awareness for an injury that could happen to anyone. In 2012, Rhiannon joined SpinChat, which saw her visiting Victorian schools to raise awareness, promote prevention and educate students about spinal cord injury. Later that year, she was recognised for her work and awarded the title of Young Australian of the Year.
Rhiannon has also been awarded a string of other prestigious accolades. In 2013, she was nominated for a Women of the Future award, and in 2014 was the recipient of two Australia Day Awards for Access & Inclusion. In 2015, Rhiannon was made an ambassador for the Wings for Life World Run, a position she further took up again in 2016.
Malcom Scott – Director
It was a nice sunny Saturday when Mals life changed forever.
Riding home on his motorcycle down a suburban street in Ringwood like he’d done many times before, a car driving straight through a stop sign knocked Mal from his motorbike leaving him unconscious with multiple injuries, but the worst, a T12 complete spinal cord injury and acquired brain injury.
Mal spent three weeks in an induced coma followed by months in both hospital and rehabilitation.
Upon returning home from hospital Mal spent a year trying to put the pieces of his life back together.
Mal became a devoted client of TNS, completing the 12 week Fast Start Program upon opening of the facility where he began showing huge improvements in his overall quality of life. His biggest achievement to date is being able to stand in our parallel bars.
Given his dedication and passion to our facility and belief in our mission, Mal became a company Director in July of 2015 helping to drive The Next Step towards being a successful and innovative recovery facility that will enable all people living with spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders the chance for optimal recovery results which will enable them to live an independent and for filled life style.
Emma Dayman – SCI Training Facilitator
Emma Dayman works on the philosophy of holistic health. She developed NeuroMax training for the purpose of helping those with a neurological injury to achieve their personal, career and life goals, increase independence, increase function and reduce neurological pain. The growing scientific knowledge and potential for improvement in the neurological field is constantly changing, growing and evolving. NeuroMax training is also constantly updated to reflect the latest discoveries in clinical results.
Jake Mennuni – B(ExSci), M(Cl.Ex.Sci&Rehab), ESSA M
Jake is an Exercise Physiologist who is passionate about helping people through exercise and physical therapy. Jake truly believes exercise has the power to help people both physically and mentally. Having friends who have suffered traumatic spinal cord injuries has been the drive behind Jake developing a strong interest and drive in using exercise to help those with injuries improve their quality of life.
Clinical Health Specialists
Di Scott – Nutritionist
Di Scott specialise’s in nutrition and wellbeing for optimal health, including permanent weight loss solutions, nutritional testing and hormone imbalances.
She is a qualified Nutrition & Weight Loss Coach, Hormone Enhancement Coach with previous roles in the Health, Fitness and Wellness Industry as a Fitness Instructor and Massage Therapist. She is a member of the Australian Institute of Weight Management.
Di is passionate about helping people with chronic health issues or who have been struggling with their nutritional health, energy levels and weight for a long time.