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Lynne Brown, Queensland Police Service

Category nine – Best individual contribution to rehabilitation and return to work

Lynne is an experienced Allied Health Practitioner (Rehabilitation Counsellor) and works in a Senior Injury Management role with the Queensland Police Service (QPS). She uses a biopsychosocial injury management model and takes a 'person-centred' approach in her role. This approach considers the person, their medical health condition, and their social setting. Lynne believes that everyone has a capacity for work and focuses on the injured workers transferable skills and abilities, rather than their injury or disability.

Lynne displayed innovation in a return to work program by negotiating a placement for an employee, who lost their vision through a workplace accident by collaborating with various stakeholders and the QPS Accessibility Advisory Network. Her efforts ensured that the injured worker was able to return to work in some capacity and have suitable software available to conduct work. She engaged QPS management in the return to work process, performed alternative duties and relocated the employee to a different station as part of the return to work process. Lynne also arranged for co-workers to be trained about working with vision impaired colleagues, as well as how to use the assistive technologies required and task modification for the worker to return to work comfortably. The strategies employed by Lynne are above the standard requirements of a return to work plan.

RUN TIME: 3 mins 36 secs

My name's Lynne Brown. I'm an Injury Management Specialist in the Queensland Police Service. My role involves engaging with injured and ill employees and negotiating and facilitating a return to work. Because I'm an allied health professional, I usually deal with complex cases within the QPS, and that could be anything from somebody with PTSD through to somebody with a neurological condition or police officers that have sustained catastrophic injuries.

So, when I first met John, he'd just come out of hospital. He had clearly sustained catastrophic injuries. He had lost the sight in both eyes following a work-related motor vehicle accident when he went through a barbed wire fence. He had had surgery, and the first conversation with the OC was to gain an understanding about what he wanted to do in his return to work, where his skills and abilities lay, and what he felt he would be interested in doing in the initial stages of the return to work.

At the time, John was placed at PCYC in Mackay, where he was mentoring at-risk youth in various programmes that the PCYC were running at the time. John and his wife, Sarah, have a property in North Lakes, and he wanted to come back here to work, and so I sent a submission up to the Assistant Commissioner with recommendations to relocate him, and I had conversations with various senior people in the organisation, and they arranged for John to come back here and find a placement for him at Mango Hill station.

Well, the QPS has a very high return to work rate. We have something like 97% return to work rate, so the organisation is very supportive of return to work. I guess it's establishing a rapport with someone and making them feel comfortable with me and feel like they can trust me to support them to return to work, even if they're not sure what that actually looks like at the time.

John, in particular, was very easy because he's got a great personality, he's got a wicked sense of humour, and he was very motivated. The challenges we had with John were, when he was ready to move into admin duties using voice-activated software, that presented a lot of challenges to us, and we identified some solutions to try and resolve that to make it feel like impaired or vision employed people can participate or undertake the same duties as those who don't have an impairment.

We need to acknowledge that the most important resource for this organisation is its people, and getting people back to work and being seen to support those people in their journey just makes people feel more positive about the culture of the organisation.

Well, clearly, it's important to have a good relationship with the person that you're looking after but also to have an understanding of the key players in the organisation, the different stakeholders, to get them on board to support what it is that you're trying to identify in the opportunity for the injured worker.

The most important thing for an injured worker, I think, is feeling valued, feeling that they can contribute, feeling that they can do something meaningful and worthwhile. Everyone has a capacity to do something, and if you focus on their skills and abilities and what they can do, rather than what they can't do, then you can always find a placement for someone.