Honouring the late Neil Sachse

02 Sep 2020 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby—Government Whip) (13:34): I rise today to pay tribute to a truly great South Australian. The late Neil Sachse was an Australian rules football icon, spinal cord injury research advocate and incredibly kind, passionate and generous person. He passed away last week on Tuesday 25 August at the age of 69.

South Australians will remember Neil and honour his memory for many reasons. He was a star as an AFL football player, playing 94 games for North Adelaide, five games representing South Australia and two for Footscray in Victoria. It was in his second game for Footscray that he suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury that rendered him a quadriplegic. Neil spent nine months recovering from the accident at Austin Hospital before transferring to Adelaide's spinal injury unit. He then dedicated much of his life to helping others with spinal cord injuries. I've witnessed firsthand his kindness through his support for Trent Rothall from Kingston South East, who suffered a similarly catastrophic spinal cord injury playing football on his 21st birthday.

Neil co-founded the organisation now known as the Neil Sachse Centre for Spinal Cord Research, raising over $8 million for research into the treatment of spinal cord injuries. Thanks to Neil's work, the way that spinal injuries are treated by medical professionals changed forever. I'm grateful to both Neil and to Neil Sachse Foundation patron Mrs Jenny Hurley for making me aware of his incredible work. He is survived by his wife, Janyne; sons, Ben and Sam; and five grandchildren. Just as he did on the field, his achievements for medical research have made South Australia and the nation very proud.