In November 2018, the SRI appointed Nick Morris OAM as a Board Director. Nick brings great insight to the role, having lived with a spinal cord injury since he was a teenager. Nick is an accredited accessibility consultant and the founding director of Morris Goding Accessibility Consultants.
In 1996 as part of the Aussie Rollers, he won a Paralympic Gold medal in Atlanta in wheelchair basketball. In 1997 Nick was awarded an Order of Australia medal for his services to sport. He was an expert accessibility advisor for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) from 2004 – 2012, mentoring organisers from the Commonwealth, Asian, Para Pan American and Paralympic Games on how to create accessibility within their cities. He received awards for his services and impact on the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games, in particular creating accessibility to the Great Wall of China and Forbidden City.
We sat down with Nick to learn more about our newest Board Director.
1) What are you hoping to bring to your role as a Board Director?
The SRI Board is made up of some very highly credentialed people and there is so much great work being done in this space. I offer a unique perspective as I have seen the impact of spinal research and service provision from a different angle than any of the other Board members. From a business acumen point of view, I have a lot of experience in creating accessibility and I know a lot of people with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities within the community.
2) Spinal cord research is understandably an area that is important to you. What do you think are some of the challenges for researchers?
The biggest challenge when it comes to spinal cord research is that for a lot of people it’s about the cure – it’s an all or nothing scenario. Whereas we should be focusing on providing health and wellness outcomes along the way, such as how research can influence people’s day-to-day lives. A cure for spinal cord injury is the holy grail, but research into the things that are more isolating to people with spinal cord injury is just as important.
From a consumer perspective, there’s a lot of good work being done. To build on that, we need to share the knowledge and look at where the gaps are. People will then become more engaged because they will understand it and feel ownership for the research, and that is really important.
3) What has been one of the most memorable moments of your career?
The work I did in Beijing and those sort of places, where you literally change cultures of hundreds of thousands of people, is something I am pretty proud of. Achieving accessibility at the Great Wall of China, Bird’s Nest stadium, the Forbidden City and places like that, means that you leave a legacy that is going to last forever.
By justifying the need for accessibility, we have changed the lives of so many on an ongoing basis. The things that stem from the momentum that the Paralympics brings are pretty amazing.