Representing Polio Survivors throughout Australia
Oct 29, 2019
Maryann Liethof
Representing Polio Survivors throughout Australia

Polio Australia is a not-for-profit organisation supporting polio survivors living in Australia of which Maryann is the National Program Manager.

As the national peak body for polio survivors, Polio Australia’s purpose is to:

  • educate Australian polio survivors and their families and the community about the Late Effects of Polio (LEoP);
  • source and provide best practice information, education and training to general practitioners, medical specialists and allied health professionals to improve the diagnosis/management of the LEoP;
  • facilitate the provision of appropriate and consistent health and other support services, across all states and territories, to improve the treatment and management of the LEoP;
  • advise governments on policy development and programs in relation to the LEoP;
  • stimulate research into the LEoP;
  • assist the State Polio Networks to support polio survivors and their families, friends and carers at a local level;
  • facilitate and encourage coordination between State Polio Networks; and
  • support and promote polio immunisation programs.

Their website ( contains information about polio, the late effects of polio, the work of Polio Australia and much more.

Maryann Liethof worked as the Coordinator of Polio Network Victoria from mid 2004 to December 2009. During that time, Maryann was one of the Victorian representatives on the Management Committee of Polio Australia.

Following a small philanthropic donation and a private donation, Maryann was appointed as Polio Australia’s National Program Manager in early January 2010 on a part time basis, which increased to full time in January 2011 thanks to a 3 year donation from The Balnaves Foundation. Since that time Maryann’s contract has twice been renewed for a further 3 years through concerted fundraising efforts.

Maryann’s qualifications include a Diploma in Community Development as well as a Graduate Diploma in Education (Careers). In April/May 2008, Maryann visited 10 post-polio related services across North America on a Churchill Fellowship Study Tour grant, the purpose of which was “To identify techniques to better manage the late effects of polio”.

In April 2009, Maryann travelled to Roosevelt Warm Springs in Georgia, USA for Post-Polio Health International’s 10th International Conference: Living with Polio in the 21st Century and Wellness Retreat to learn the benefits of the holistic chronic condition self-management model. She was able to draw on this experience to conceptualize and coordinate Polio Australia’s first Late Effects of Polio Self Management Residential Program (also known as a Polio Health and Wellness Retreat) in April 2010.

Polio Australia regularly participates in, and presents at, post-polio conferences in Europe and the USA and Maryann is always the standard bearer at these conferences. She reports extensively on them in her daily blog posts, in Polio Oz News, and by giving talks at State Network Seminars and other events. Maryann is often joined at the conferences by other Australians who are also keen to learn what’s new and bring back information to share with their peers in State Networks and regional Support Groups.