In 2008 the six Australian State Networks signed a Memorandum of Understanding which in turn lead to the development of a Constitution for a national organisation, Polio Australia, and its incorporation later that year.

Two representatives from each Member Network are appointed to the Board of Polio Australia, each for a two-year term. At least one of the Board members nominated by each Member Network must be a polio survivor, so that at least 50% of the Board are polio survivors. It is the intention of the Member Networks that at least 75% of the Board be polio survivors.

Brief profiles of the current members of the Board are given below.

John Tierney OAM
President (New South Wales)

From 1991 to 2005 John Tierney gave 14 years of distinguished service to the Australian Parliament, where he served as Senator for NSW. During his time in Parliament, he was a Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Leader in the Senate and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. John also chaired a number of Senate Standing and Select Committees over a range of portfolio areas, with a particular focus on education, employment, industrial relations, communications, information technology, health and welfare issues. John has taken a passionate interest in the area of disability, having contracted polio at birth, and was a special parliamentary adviser to the Minister for Community Services on disability matters from 1998 to 2001.

In 2005 John became a Partner at Government Relations Australia Advisory, a position he retired from in 2011. However, he found it hard to completely retire and is now working part-time as Special Counsel at 1st State Government and Corporate Relations. John provides strategic advice on government matters to corporate clients across a wide range of industries at both a federal and state level in NSW. Additionally, he has undertaken pro bono advisory work for Lifeline Australia, Polio Australia and the Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented.

In the 2012 Australia Day Awards John was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM): For service to the Parliament of Australia, to education, and to the community.

John was elected President of Polio Australia at the 2012 Annual General Meeting. In addition, John continues as Polio Australia's National Patron.

Gillian Thomas
Vice President (New South Wales)

For 25 years I have worked for the Post-Polio Network (NSW) [now Polio NSW] on a voluntary basis. I was a member of the original Working Party set up in 1988 to establish the Network, was subsequently elected as Secretary, and in 1997 became the Network's President. I was also the Editor of the Network’s highly regarded quarterly newsletter Network News from 1989 to 2012.

In 2002 I was honoured to receive an inaugural David Bodian Memorial Award from the International Post-Polio Task Force in recognition of my work for polio survivors, while in 2004 I was invited to serve on Post-Polio Health International's Consumer Advisory Committee. In January 2009 I was delighted to be awarded an Australia Day Community Service Award from Randwick Council for my outstanding service to polio survivors and the community.

I passionately believe in the need for a national voice for polio survivors and my efforts culminated in the highly successful meeting of all Australian State Polio Networks in May 2007 and the unanimous agreement to form Polio Australia. Polio Australia is now a reality and in 2008 I was elected its inaugural President. At the 2012 Annual General Meeting, having served two consecutive terms as President and being constitutionally ineligible to re-stand at that time for this position, I was elected as Vice President.

Jenny Jones
Secretary (Western Australia)

I was born in 1955, a healthy baby girl who loved to play all of the time. In January 1960, I was hospitalised with polio for some time before my mother was told by the doctors to take her daughter home to die. Luckily, neither my mother or our family GP gave up on me. I eventually started the school year but only in the mornings. I liked to read and sew and I went on to qualify as a Home Economics teacher with a Diploma in Education and Diploma in Home Economics. Later on I completed my Bachelor of Education and taught in the country for 2 years and 1 year in Perth.

I married my husband Keith in 1978. We were blessed with 2 daughters and 1 son. After starting our family I only ever worked part time as my health and energies were always compromised by a heavy load. I ran my own swimming and coaching business for 12 years and had a lot success in training young swimmers. At this stage I was enjoying playing golf at least once a week and swimming a 2 kilometre swim and competing as a swimmer.

At the age of 47 years old, fatigue impacted on me in a big way. I had given up all activities and all physical movements were painful and slow. Fortunately for me Keith was playing golf with a few buddies and one of the chaps asked if I had had polio. From that conversation, I contacted our Post-Polio Clinic and with Tessa Jupp's advice on what supplements to take and talks given by our physiotherapist, Jega, I now have a much improved quality of life. I am now a qualified Holistic Counsellor and work part time in this field, enjoy a walk and swimming again - just not the same distances as before Post Polio Syndrome. I am a Committee Member for Post-Polio WA. In February 2013 I was appointed as Secretary of Polio Australia, consequent upon Brett Howard (South Australia) vacating the position when appointed as Treasurer.

Brett Howard
Treasurer (South Australia)

I was born in 1948 and diagnosed with polio in 1952. The progression of my disease was pretty simple for me, my right leg was smaller and weaker than my left, and a District nurse visited our house and set a series of physiotherapy exercises for me. At night my leg was bandaged into a half cast to support my foot/ankle.

I was always last in running races at school, and did not play competitive sport until I played Baseball at high school (not very well). I enjoyed bush walking and completed several walks in the Adelaide Hills. In 1966 I was selected to start an apprenticeship as a Fitter and Turner, and worked as a Fitter/Turner, Toolmaker, Heat Treater and Apprentice Trainer. I have two great sons Chad 33 and Todd 30 but now live alone.

In 2005, the late effects of polio caused me to leave the heavy work involved in that trade. A friend of mine then employed me as a telephone sales person but after six months I could not even complete those tasks without much pain and discomfort. My doctor of fifteen years suggested that I should retire which I agreed to do.

However, I still have an interesting lifestyle as I've been an Australian Referee in the Australian Power Boat Association since 1982, while hydrotherapy, Pilates and gym as well as being President of Polio SA also keep me very busy. I was elected Secretary of Polio Australia at the 2012 Annual General Meeting but took over as Treasurer in February 2013 owing to the illness of Michael Judson (Victoria).

Arthur Dobson
(Tasmania)

I contracted polio in November 1952 at the age of 6. After leaving hospital, I was transferred to St Giles Home for Crippled Children where I resided for several years before returning home and attending the local school in callipers. I was later appointed to the Board of St Giles and have now been a director on that Board for over thirty years.

In 1972 I had a motor accident which resulted in multiple breaks in both legs requiring me to learn to walk for the third time. I was a self employed farmer, specialising in dairying but I had to leave the farm in 1998 due to the late effects of polio.

Earlier that year I was involved in the formation of the Post Polio Network - Tasmania Inc, taking on the role of Public Officer and several years later I took on the additional role of Secretary and continued to hold both positions until that organisation was wound up in 2012. I am continuing to publish a quarterly newsletter 'TAS POLIO NEWS' which is available on subscription and the members of the former Post Polio Network are hoping to keep in touch through an informal social network requiring no administration.

Since attending the Polio 2000 and Beyond Conference in Melbourne I have been a strong supporter of a national body and am proud to have been elected as the inaugural Vice President of Polio Australia. At the 2012 Annual General Meeting, I was constitutionally ineligible to re-stand at that time for this position, having served two consecutive terms.

I was honoured to be nominated for the Australian of the Year Awards for 2013 and was one of four finalists in the Tasmania's Local Hero section.

Tessa Jupp OAM
(Western Australia)

Registered Nurse (RN) – married for 20 years to Colin Jupp, a wheelchair-bound polio survivor (polio in 1954) with a permanent tracheostomy on a Bird Respirator (deceased aged 46 in 1989 of respiratory failure due to polio). Mother of two sons and six grandchildren.

  • Started and ran the Post Polio Network Western Australia Inc (PPNWA Inc) in 1989 on a voluntary basis until 1992
  • PPNWA has had 2,075 registered polio members over last 21 years – currently around 1,250 due to natural attrition
  • Employed as RN and CEO by PPNWA Inc since 1992
  • Editor of quarterly WA Polio Newsletter
  • Run free in-house Polio Clinic WA
  • RN for Polio Clinic WA research
  • Fundraiser for PPNWA
  • Conducts metro and country polio clinics in WA
  • One of three authors for forthcoming book on history of polio in WA
  • Foundation Member of Polio Australasia since 1990 and Polio Australia 2007

John Mayo
(Queensland)

In 1994, John joined the Spinal Injuries Association (formerly the Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Association of Queensland). He contributed to a national precedent anti-discrimination test case involving the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Center that did not provide access for people unable to use steps.

His continuing role is to advocate for services for people with spinal disabilities and their families by seeking to work cooperatively with government, business and the community – and to provide information about the disability experience.

With a background in communication, marketing and education, John is involved in project consultancy and training about equity and access issues to government, business and the community – and is a media spokesperson. Before entering the Disability Sector, he worked for Australian media and is the recipient of 3 international newspaper marketing awards.

Currently, John conducts audits, research, writes papers and is an advisor on equitable access to buildings, infrastructure, precincts, goods, services and information aimed at maximising the social and economic performance of venues and regions. He provides advice in discrimination jurisdictions, an example being the national precedent case, C and A, in the Anti Discrimination Tribunal, Queensland.

John is a member of various groups including:
  • Anti Discrimination Commission Queensland Advocates Advisory Group
  • Queensland Transport Smart Travel Reference Group
  • Universal Housing Design Working Group
  • Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland Disability Reference Group
  • Tourism Queensland Accessible Tourism Advisory Group
  • Gold Coast Rapid Transit Reference Group
  • Department of Main Roads Internal Standing Reference Group

In 2004 John was nominated ‘Australian of the Year’. He is also a Queensland government nominee and recipient of the UN International Year of the Built Environment Award 2004, presented by the Premier, 5 December.

Margaret Peel
(Queensland)

I contracted polio as a child in 1951 while living in Mareeba in Far North Queensland and spent from Easter to Christmas that year in the Cairns Base Hospital. I wore a leg brace until the age of 18 years and only resumed wearing a brace on my left leg after the onset of the Late Effects of Polio in 1999. I now require a walking stick as well.

On leaving school, I worked in a Pathology Laboratory and gained a Diploma in Medical Laboratory Science, then attended the University of Queensland and graduated with a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Microbiology. I taught microbiology at the Queensland Institute (now University) of Technology until 1971, when I left Australia for London to study for the Academic Postgraduate Diploma in Bacteriology at London University. The award of a Fellowship from the Queensland Association of University Women (now Graduate Women Queensland) enabled me to then embark on a Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Medicine at London University. I was subsequently appointed as a Wellcome Research Training Fellow for two years at the University. My PhD topic was the human immune response to vaccination and my Supervisor was an American Professor of Public Health, Geoffrey Edsall, formerly of Harvard University and the US National Institutes of Health who was then working in London.

On my return to Australia, I was appointed to the staff of the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory within the Department of Microbiology at the University of Melbourne. As an Academic Associate of the Department, I also tutored and lectured in microbiology and infection control to students of microbiology. In addition, I gave lectures in epidemiology to students at the Swinburne University of Technology. Apart from publications in the areas of public health microbiology and the identification of unusual and rare microbial isolates, I co-authored three editions of a book on sterilization, disinfection and infection control with Dr Joan F Gardner AO. In May 2009, I was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science on presentation of a thesis on my published contributions to medical microbiology by the University of Queensland.

I am Secretary of the Brisbane Post Polio Support Group and was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Spinal Injuries Association in November 2012. I have served on committees of the Australian Federation of Graduate Women both in Victoria and Queensland. As a member of the Australian Bridge Federation, I play Contract Bridge twice weekly. I am also a member of the Peninsula & District Branch of the Queensland Cake Decorators Association. As a former pupil of Brisbane singing teacher, Anne Allison, I have maintained my interest in singing. In 2007, I qualified as a Justice of the Peace (JP), and currently volunteer at JP signing centres in local Shopping Centres twice a month. I am one of two Queensland representatives on the Committee of Polio Australia Inc.

Billie Thow
(Tasmania)

I was born in 1949 and contracted polio 2 years later. I came home from hospital in a Thomas splint then wore callipers on both legs until my teens. I qualified as a hairdresser and worked full time for six years, then married and had three sons. I returned to hairdressing part-time in hospitals and age-care facilities, which lead to 34 years in this area. I have seen many changes in the way residents are now cared for.

I have been a volunteer with Life-Link Samaritans Tasmania for twenty years in the roles of phone befriending, team-leader, Board Member, and Vice President, and find this very rewarding and helpful in my work and personal life.

In my late forties, my GP diagnosed that I was experiencing the onset of post polio, which I had no knowledge of. He was able to find and pass on information he found from New South Wales and Victoria.

In 1998 I was at the formation of the Post Polio Network - Tasmania Inc. and have since enjoyed the Support Groups and Conferences. I am pleased to represent Tasmania on the Management Committee of Polio Australia.

Peter Wierenga
(South Australia)

I was diagnosed with polio at the age of 8 in 1954 in Edmonton Alberta Canada. I spent 2 months in hospital isolation unable to walk. I gradually regained strength and was transferred to a recovery hospital and became a great wheel chair racer. I was involved in setting up a library for the polio patients there. I am one of the luckiest polio survivors as I went home 2 months later able to walk and with no physical disabilities.

I moved to Adelaide in 1974 to marry this lovely Aussie girl Anne. We have 2 great children Todd and Lauren. I became a High School History Teacher and Faculty Coordinator and enjoyed this for 30 years at a number of schools in South Australia. I played and coached baseball for a number of years and tried to play some golf as well.

Anne noticed I was getting more easily fatigued in the evenings and I felt fatigue was starting to affect my work as well. So I retired at 62 and a Physiotherapist friend introduced me to post polio effects and I joined Polio SA in 2008. In 2011 I was elected treasurer of Polio SA.

I still do occasional relief teaching as well as mentoring Tabor College student teachers when they do a practicum. I no longer golf but walk for 30 minutes each day and participate in hydrotherapy 1 hour a week.