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Life Members

Life Membership may be granted to a Member of the Association in recognition of outstanding achievement in some activity relating to Hand Therapy, or outstanding service to the Association by way of bearing office,
promoting the objects of the Association and making a significant contribution to its growth and development.

Congratulations to the Members who have been recognised with Life Membership of the AHTA.
  • Rosemary Prosser (1999)
  • Wilma Walsh
  • Janet Dindler (2004)
  • Judith Wilton (2004)
  • Judith Morrin (2004)
  • Jenny Ball (2008)
  • Barbara Watson (2009)
  • Birgit Svens (2012)
  • Amy Geach (2014)
  • Elizabeth Ward (2014)

and see below for the citations presented at the AHTA AGM when they were honoured.

Nominations for Life membership are:

i) Proposed and seconded by Members of the AHTA
ii) Accompanied by a citation in support of the nomination
iii) Submitted to the Management Committee
iv) Voted on by the Management Committee
v) Announced at the next AGM of the Association, where the citation shall be read and a framed certificate presented, by the President of the Association, to the person being honoured.

A Life Member shall:

(i) Remain an active Member of the Association
(ii) Not be required to pay membership fees
(ii) Be entitled to use the letters “Life MAHTA” on correspondence and
printed material.

A Life Member may transfer to Honorary member when he/she ceases to

Citation for Janet Dindler

Proposed: Celeste Glasgow

I would like to nominate Janet Dindler for Life Membership with the Australian Hand Therapy Association in respect for the huge contribution she has made towards our Association since its beginnings in the early 1980’s.

Janet started one of the first Hand and Upper Limb practices in Australia in conjunction with Carol Walsh, and is highly regarded in both AHTA and APA circles. As such, she has acted as a mentor to many hand therapists across Australia.

She has been described as “the voice of reason of the AHTA” and it has been stated that “without her expert skills at meeting procedures and protocol I doubt if any motions would ever have been put or passed in the correct fashion” (Jenny Ball, 2004).

She has made huge contributions to the writing of the AHTA Bylaws, the Constitution and the criteria for Scholarship/Research Grant applications.

She has been a regular presenter at many conferences always delivering
an entertaining and informative narration.

Other specific contributions have included:

1. AHTA President - 1998-2000
2. AHTA Vice President 2000-2002
3. South Australian Divisional Representative - 2002-2004
4. AHTA and NZAHT conference committee 2003
4. Development of the AHTA conference manual

She has unselfishly given of her time to the AHTA to help promote Hand Therapy in Australia, always prepared to take on yet another job for the Association or to help another therapist in need. I am sure that there are many other contributions that I have missed but I hope that you will agree with this nomination and vote in favour.

Citation for Judith Wilton

Proposed: Celeste Glasgow

I would like to nominate Judith Wilton for Life/Honorary Membership with the Australian Hand Therapy Association. This nomination is made in respect for the large contribution she has made towards our Association, as well as to the advancement of Hand Therapy in Australia.

Judith first became a member of the AHTA in 1992, and has been actively involved in the Association since this time. Most recently Judith has fulfilled the role of Professional Development Officer for the Association, chairing the Professional Development Subcommittee. She has worked tirelessly with this committee over the last two years, tackling issues relating to membership criteria for the Association. At the same time, she has chaired the 2004 Conference Committee and managed to continue to run her private practice in Perth.
Judith has held many other important roles within the AHTA including (to name a few) the following;

1. Past President - 2000-2002
2. Western Australian Divisional Representative- 1999-2000
3. Conference Committee Chair- 1997-1998
4. Western Australia Divisional Representative- 1997

In addition to her direct contributions to the Association, Judith has worked hard to promote Hand Therapy as a specialty area of practice, within Australia. She was employed as a part time Lecturer for Curtin University for many years, co-ordinating the first Post Graduate Diploma/ Masters in Hand and Upper Limb Rehabilitation in Australia. As such, she has acted as a Mentor to many budding Hand Therapists.

Judith completed and published her book entitled "Hand Splinting" in 1997. She has run numerous workshops, and presented many papers promoting education and research in Hand Therapy, at both the national and international level.

I am sure there are other contributions that I have missed, but I hope you will consider those listed above, and vote in favour to support this nomination.

Citation for Jenny Ball:

Proposed: Janet Dindler
Seconded: Judith Wilton

Jenny Ball graduated as a physiotherapist in 1981 and must have been a HandTherapist almost all of her working life as she was of the founding members of the AHTA 2 years later and attended the first conference in Ballarat in 1984.

Since then, Jenny has only missed one conference when she was too pregnant to fly in 2000, has presented at most of them and won the Jill Chapman Award 2 years in a row for her papers entitled “Retrospective review of Flexor Tendon Repairs” in 1990 and “The Role of Ultrasound in assessing Flexor Tendon Repairs” in 1991.

She has also won the Marshall Prize awarded by Monash Medical Centre for a paper on “Volar Plate Arthrolysis – new techniques and outcomes”.

Jenny has been published in the British Journal of Hand Surgery 1993 on “The Role of Diagnostic US in the Management of Zone 1 Flexor Tendon Repairs” and has other papers on predicting the outcome of carpal tunnel release and Volar Plate Arthrolysis in the pipeline. Jenny has also been involved in Hand Therapy education
in Fiji in 2000 – 2006 and is a certified Hand Therapist.

So Jenny’s level of expertise is undeniable and her contribution to the body of knowledge of Hand Therapy is impressive. Her involvement in the development of the AHTA is no less spectacular.

Jenny took on the challenge of being AHTA President in 1994 – 1996 in the pre-email, pre-professional secretary days with the rest of her executive in Melbourne! As if that wasn’t enough, the annual conference was in Melbourne in 1995.

Despite communication difficulties, Jenny’s committee consolidated the constitution with a Mission Statement, developed subcommittees to direct the future activities of the AHTA and investigated more formal organisational structure, leading to incorporation. When the AHTA incorporated, Jenny became the Divisional Representative for Tasmania, which she has held ever since because she is usually the only full member in Tasmania!

So Jenny’s contribution to both Hand Therapy and the AHTA makes her a worthy candidate for Life Membership.

Citation for Barbara Watson:

Proposed: Lyn Miles
Seconded: Susan Peters

I would like to nominate Barbara Watson for Life Membership with the Australian Hand Therapy Association. This nomination is made in respect for the large contribution she has made towards our Association, as well as to the advancement of hand therapy in Australia.

Barbara first became a member of the AHTA in 1984, and has been actively involved with the Association since that time. She was elected President in 1996 and in that role was responsible for organizing and formalizing the professional secretariat, which removed the day to day running of the association from therapists. She was also responsible for overseeing the incorporation of the association. Both of these advances ensure that today, all members enjoy the privileges of a professionally administered association.

In addition, in her role as President, Barbara chaired the national conference at Noosa. She has in fact been a regular presenter at national conferences, national occupational therapy conferences, and state hand surgeons conferences. In addition, over the past 30 years Barbara has presented regularly to both metropolitan and non metropolitan professional interest groups and continues to conduct workshops regularly in her areas of professional interest.

Barbara was in fact the first hand therapist in Queensland and in 1980 she established the first dedicated hand rehabilitation program in the private sector in the state. She was the Manager of the Hand Rehabilitation Unit at Belmont Hospital until 2003 and so established the role of hand therapy in Queensland. In particular, she developed the role of the hand therapist as clinical manager of hand and upper limb rehabilitation clients from wound to return to work which is enjoyed by therapists in this state, and she established the blended occupational and physiotherapy roles in the clinical setting and developed clinical protocols for upper limb conditions.

Since 2004, Barbara has been an AHTA Mentor and she remains active in and committed to this role. She is particularly interested in the education and mentoring of rural therapists and is well known in Queensland for the support she provides to non metropolitan therapists, both in their day to day clinical work and in assisting them to achieve their goals of full membership.

She remains passionate about hand therapy and continues to develop and share her expertise in a number of clinical areas including mutilating hand injuries, rheumatology including complex conditions such as Scleroderma and post surgical management of hand arthroplasties, focal dystonia and writing disorders in children, CRPS, and the management of upper limb conditions in elite athletes and professional musicians. She also remains passionate about promoting hand therapy, as evident by her recent appointment as Moderator for the hand section of OT Australia’s (Qld) newly created “Communities of Practice” support website for rural OTs and by her recent humanitarian work in the Solomon Islands providing post surgical client care as part of the Australian Orthopaedic Association team.

Overall, Barbara was instrumental in the development of our national professional body and in the development of the hand therapy model in Queensland. She has always been and continues to be generous of her knowledge and time by education, encouraging and mentoring many of the hand therapists in this state, whilst managing to run her private practice in Brisbane.

I am sure that there are other contributions that I have missed, but I hope you will consider those listed above, and vote in favour to support this nomination.

 Citation for Birgit Svens:

Proposed: Janet Dindler
Seconded: Joy Hanna

Birgit was born in Finland and moved to Sweden to complete her education, graduation as an Occupational Therapist in 1971. After working as a general OT in Sweden and the UK she was involved in establishing a specialised hand Surgery and Therapy unit in 1974, in Goteborg, Sweden, where she worked with such famous names as Erik Moberg, Carl-Goran Hagert, Svante Edshage, Arvid Ejerstaer, Christion Sollerman, Goran Lundborg, Ann Nachemsson and Brigitta Rosen with whom she ran a 3 week course on neurology, rheumatology and trauma in the late seventies.

Her early publications were in Swedish and included a book in 1984 edited by Erik Moberg, “Splinting in Hand Therapy”, and articles on Oedema Control (81), surgery and rehabilitation of the Rheumatoid hand (76) and splinting the CP hand (83).

Birgit is an international level hang glider pilot and visited Australia for competition in 1982 and 83. She came to live in Australia via WHO aid project in Pakistan in 1984, attracted by the weather for hand gliding and the availability of work in hand therapy. By 1989 Birgit was senior Hand Therapist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital where she has won awards for her contribution to research, innovation and customer service.

Recently published articles include:
“Early sensory re-learning after Median nerve repair using mirror training and sense substitution (a case report)” Journal Hand Therapy, 14. 2009 with Brigitta Rosen.

“Intra and Inter-instrument reliability of grip strength measurement: Grip Trak and Jamar hand dynamometer” British Journal of Hand Therapy 2005 with H.Lee

“A Functional thumb metacarpal extension blocking splint” Journal of Hand Therapy 2005 with K. Butler

“Reliability of Testing a new scar assessment tool, Matching Assessment of Scars and Photographs (MAPS)” British Journal Hand Therapy 2005 with M. Masters and M.McMahon.

“A retrospective study of two measures of functional outcome for metacarpophalangeal joint replacement in patients with rheumatoid arthritis” British Journal of Hand Therapy 2000.

In the AHTA Newsletter Birgit has contributed
1. Functional Opposition Splint for Chronic Median Nerve Injury 2002 with M Masters
2. Modification of soft wrist splint for ulnar carpal instability. 1997 with S Kay
3. PIP Joint Dislocation 1994
4. Soft splint for Supination and Pronation 1994
5. Removable Cylindrical cast for fingers 1992

Birgit has presented much of her work at conferences including an audit of Flexor and Extensor Tendon Repair Outcomes at the Trans Tasman Conference 2003 and papers on Contractures and face and neck burns at the A&NZ Burns Association Conference 1996.

Birgit has had Occupational Therapy students on placement at the RAH for many years winning their respect and admiration. She has reduced her clinical load at the RAH, but her research work continues, with the presentation of her paper on Extensor tendon repairs using the Yoke Splint at this conference. Birgit remains a keen hand glider pilot and is first reserve for the Australian Women’s team for the 2013 World championships to be held in Forbes NSW.


Citation for Amy Geach

Proposed:  Beth Taylor
Seconded: Ben Cunningham

Amy Geach is an extraordinary clinician, businesswoman and innovator. An AHTA member since 2005, Amy is a passionate advocate of excellence in hand therapy. 

I have known Amy since 2008 when we both served on the AHTA Management Committee. She held the Communications portfolio for two consecutive terms and in that role transformed the “brand” of our newsletter and our Association.

In 2011, Amy was commissioned to profile hand therapy in Australia for the AHTA. She developed and surveyed all AHTA members ing 2012 and collated this information. She has since presented these results to the AHTA Management Committee, and to the membership through webinar and newsletter. This was the first such profile in Australia and has provided valuable information for our profession.

Alongside these achievements, Amy runs an efficient hand therapy service in Wagga Wagga NSW. Riverina Hand Therapy recently won a business award for workplace culture. She employs and trains two therapists, one of whom was a new grad when she started with Riverina Hand Therapy. Amy generously shares hand therapy practice “pearls” with colleagues and aspires to give back to a profession she has learned so much from.

Maida Learning is one of Amy’s unique innovations. She established Maida Learning last yearwith the aim to provide education, resources and support for allied health professionals and private practice owners in Australia. The inaugural Healthy Practice Conference has recently been held in Canberra and was of the usual high standard we have come to expect from anything Amy turns her hand to.

Amy has unselfishly given of her time and energy to the AHTA to help promote Hand Therapy in Australia and generously shares information and expertise with her colleagues. I warmly recommend Amy Geach to you for Life Membership.


Citation for Elizabeth Ward

Proposed:  Beth Taylor
Seconded:  Helen Burfield

Liz has been an active member of the association on a state and national level for many years. She became an associate in 1997 and has been a full member since 2005. I have known Liz since the late 1990s as a colleague and friend in hand therapy. She is an amazing clinician and business woman, someone who is always willing to share her expertise, but without judgment or bias. Her logical clinical reasoning is generously shared with her colleagues.

In 2006 Liz was elected Vice President of the association, a role she continued for two terms (2006-2010). That in itself is a massive contribution to the association. Liz was instrumental in theextensive development of the research and scholarship subcommittees; in the commencement of the AHTA’s subscriptions to online journals; and initiating succession planning for AHTA management. She also contributed significantly in the establishment of the Strategic Plan in 2007 and has continued involvement in the association to the current time. Little known is the importance of the VP to the AHTA President and Liz’s presence in that role was invaluable to both President’s she worked with.

Liz is one of the unobtrusive background workers in hand therapy and the AHTA. Without her service in the vice presidency much of the running of the association and meeting our obligations would have failed or been left undone. Liz has continued this background work in her role on the Governance Committee since 2010, which she now chairs. This committee has developed sound governance processes for the Association which provide necessary protection.

She has unselfishly given of her time and energy to the AHTA to help promote Hand Therapy in Australia as well as assist her colleagues in hand therapy. I warmly recommend Liz Ward to you for Life Membership.