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Navigating the road back: Senior Constable John Kenworthy's inspirational return to work journey

Lynne Brown’s support of Senior Constable John Kenworthy shows how important it is to take a proactive, person-centred approach to rehabilitation and return to work (RRTW). This includes fostering an inclusive workplace culture, team education, and providing return to work and mental health support.

Best practice

Learn from the experience of others taking a proactive and inclusive approach to RRTW during John’s journey.

Your organisation’s leadership is committed to creating an environment that fosters resilience, support and adaptability to improve safety and RRTW outcomes.

Why this is important

Senior Constable John Kenworthy was involved in a motorcycle incident while responding to a serious injury traffic response. John is now legally blind after sustaining serious injuries to his eyes. John is the Work Well Awards 2023 winner of the injured worker achievement award.

John’s story illustrates that better outcomes can be achieved when there is a positive workplace culture and a person-centred approach to RRTW.

A positive workplace culture means valuing an individual’s skills and abilities and prioritising support, adaptability and inclusivity. For a worker with an injury this can improve their sense of purpose and engagement in their recovery journey.

What actions can I take now?

Draw inspiration from John’s journey and the person-centred approach taken by Lynne, a Queensland Police Service (QPS) Injury Management Specialist, facilitating John’s rehabilitation and return to work and reasonable workplace adjustments.

  • Foster an inclusive culture: Work to create an environment where team members feel valued and supported. John’s colleagues stayed in contact with him during his time away. Management collaborated with the Injury Management Specialist to identify suitable alternate duties to support John to recover at work.
  • Involve and educate the team: Provide training to reduce stigma associated with injury and illness. For example, Vision Australia provided training for John’s team to understand the challenges of working alongside someone who is vision impaired
  • Adopt a person-centred approach: Focus on your workers’ abilities, considering their personal, injury and social contexts. An example of this in practice was Lynne working with John, management and the QPS Accessibility Advisory Network to discover new and meaningful work options which included alternate administration duties, community engagement and injury prevention projects.
  • Look for ways to adapt: Consider how job roles can be modified to accommodate individual strengths, skills and needs. Involve your workers in finding solutions for workplace adaptations, such as new or modified roles.
  • Implement mental health support: Promote the value of seeking early mental health support and share information on where to go for help. Organise training for staff on how to recognise and support others who may be struggling with mental health. Blackdog Institute and Beyond Blue provide useful resources, tools and workshops.

Your toolkit

Explore resources and case studies that can guide your approach to supporting injured workers:

  • Be inspired by other RRTW success stories recognised as winners and finalists in the Work Well Awards.
  • Organise RRTWC training or professional development and qualifications in injury management for your RRTWCs and managers.
  • Take action to stop stigma around injury and illness and foster a support environment that welcomes workers back.
  • Learn more about tailored support and what it means to apply a person-centred approach in practice.
  • Raise awareness of the mental health resources available for everyone and keep mental health on your organisation’s radar all year round.
  • Create an inclusive workplace culture that embraces diversity and accommodates workers with varying needs.