From this page you can access details of Polio Australia’s annual Polio Health and Wellness Retreat program which is conducted in a different state each year. Details of the Retreat held in Warm Springs, USA, in 2009 which inspired the development of the Australian Retreats are also available.

Queensland Retreat - 2012 - Program

Queensland Retreat - 2012 - Presenters List

Queensland Retreat - 2012 - Summary Report

Queensland Retreat - 2012 - Presentations

Queensland Retreat - 2012 - Photographs

Polio Australia once again facilitated its 3 day Polio Health and Wellness Retreat for polio survivors and their partners – this time from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 April 2012 at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Centre Marcoola Beach on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland. This third Retreat delivered on its promise to build on previous sessions and participant feedback to present a range of self-management techniques which will enable participants to achieve general wellbeing, as well as providing options for people to remain as mobile and independent as possible. Polio Australia also thanks GlaxoSmithKline and The Marion and The E.H. Flack Trust for providing funding which ensured this Retreat was as affordable for as many people as possible.

The holistic ‘Body / Mind / Spirit’ theme included:
  • Interactive group sessions and one-to-one consultation opportunities with a variety of allied health professionals
  • Hydrotherapy and exercise options
  • Latest orthotics, aids and equipment displays
  • Seated Yoga and Meditation Sessions
  • Activities to Keep The Mind Active
  • Creative Workshops and Singing for Health
  • Massage therapy

Victoria Retreat - 2011 - Program

Victoria Retreat - 2011 - Presenters List

Victoria Retreat - 2011 - Report

Victoria Retreat - 2011 - Photographs



The Polio Body  by  Dr Stephen de Graaff

The Healthy Mind  by  Dr Andrew Sinclair

Hard to Swallow?  by  Abby Foster

Polio Australia held its second Health and Wellness Retreat at the prestigious Melbourne Business School venue in Mt Eliza, Victoria — about 1 hour from central Melbourne. There were 64 participants made up of 43 polio survivors and 21 spouses/carers/family members. People came from all over Australia except the Northern Territory. We also had 27 ‘return’ participants who attended last years’ Retreat in Baulkham Hills, New South Wales: 16 from NSW, 6 from Tasmania and 5 from Victoria, which is testament to how valuable they found the program.

Polio Australia would like to thank all the health professionals and presenters for their valuable time and expertise, most of whom provided their services free of charge. GlaxoSmithKline, The R.E. Ross Foundation and The Ian Potter Foundation funding ensured that this Retreat was as affordable for as many people as possible. Polio Australia is also very grateful to two polio participants who donated money to further subsidise the Registration Fees for eight people who would not have been able to attend otherwise. We also thank the Lions Club of Mentone-Mordialloc for kindly sponsoring Saturday night’s entertainment.

Below are a few quotes from those who attended this year:

“We enjoyed the retreat so much. Apart from the excellent presenters, the other 50% of enjoyment came from the friendships and conversations with the other participants—something you can only get from a residential event, being with people who have shared experiences and understand the challenges and triumphs. Thank you sincerely—Joan and Graeme”  (polio participant and spouse/carer)

“I would like you to know just how much I enjoyed the weekend at Mt Eliza. For most of my life I just got on with it. Now I am finding the information about polio and the way is has affected me in later years very useful for helping me maintain my independence. Yours sincerely—Fran”  (polio participant)

“I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful experience this weekend. I have come away a different person. I met so many amazing people and was privileged to hear parts of their stories. These touched my heart and I came away humbled by the courage, fortitude and positive attitudes that they all had. There was much shared laughter and gratitude for families and supports such as yours. Keep up the great work—Pam”  (massage therapist)

NSW Retreat - 2010 - Report

NSW Retreat - 2010 - Video

NSW Retreat - 2010 - Photographs

In April 2010 Polio Australia, with input from the Post-Polio Network (NSW), conducted Australia’s first three day Polio Health and Wellness Retreat in Baulkham Hills, New South Wales. The purpose of the Health and Wellness Retreat was to provide a holistic approach to managing LEOP and finding life balance. This Retreat model is to be used as a chronic condition self management technique in future Polio Australia activities. Each day focussed on a different aspect of health and wellness: Body, Mind and Spirit.

Feedback comments from the April 2010 Retreat include:

  • For me it was a life-changing experience! It seemed to offer everything we needed: great plenary sessions, excellent small group discussions, one-to-one opportunities with professionals, and the chance to share all these experiences with one’s partner. Beyond that, there was the informal chance to make connections and share experiences with other polio survivors. I’ve already made three important follow-up appointments.
  • I’ll be taking more time to look after myself in all areas – mind, body and spirit!
  • A very well organised and run retreat – thankyou, thankyou – far better than expected! There are many follow up actions to be taken on my part (and will be!).
  • This has been the most productive, helpful, excitingly happy experience of my life! I’m so grateful to all those who helped organise this Retreat and especially those who help fund it and make possible this incredible shared time.
  • Being with and sharing with other people like me – I wasn’t the odd one out.
  • A very worthwhile exercise and I found it most enjoyable, mixing with fellow survivors.
  • Quality of all sessions was excellent. Thoroughly enjoyable, especially liked having spouse/carer to share in our activities.
  • Well done team – diverse program with plenty of time to mingle and talk to other survivors. Many contacts made and always lots of practical info learnt from other survivors.
  • An excellent few days, unlike anything I have ever done. The interaction with other survivors, as well as all the sessions.
  • I found the whole experience of attending the Retreat very meaningful. By the time it finished, I was feeling that I was part of the Polio Community and also found that I was not conscious of who is a survivor and who is a partner or carer in my interactions with them. Participating in sessions for partners reinforced this sense of belonging and I think these sessions should be part of all future Retreats.

About Warm Springs (Wikipedia)

Warm Springs - Polio Hall of Fame

Warm Springs Retreat - 2009 - Mary-ann's Daily Blog

Warm Springs Retreat - 2009 - Videos

Warm Springs Retreat - 2009 - Photographs

In April 2009, 450 polio Survivors gathered at Roosevelt Warm Springs in Georgia for Post-Polio Health International’s 10th International Conference: Living with Polio in the 21st Century. The Conference was preceded by a 4 day Retreat at “Camp Dream”, also located within the grounds.

Attending both activities from Australia were: Mary-ann Liethof, (then) Polio Community Officer, Polio Network Victoria (PNV); Liz Telford, PNV Polio Advisory Committee Member; Shirley Glance, Bayside Post Polio Support Group Convener; Fran Henke, Mornington Peninsula Post Polio Support Group Member; and Dr John Tierney from Post-Polio Network (NSW).