Teamwork makes the dream work

You might remember John Kenworthy’s story from our social media. Recently, John’s incredible and inspiring return to work journey received a standing ovation at the 2023 Work Well Awards where he received the Injured worker achievement award. John’s Support Planner, Samantha Lee, was invited to the awards along with representatives from Queensland Police Service (Lynne Browne, Mick Moate and Katarina Carroll), WorkCover Queensland, and John’s Occupational Therapist (Michelle Maclean). John’s return to work story is an incredible testament to his strength, determination and passion for his work.

John’s story also highlights the importance of having a supportive employer and the incredible return to work outcomes that can be achieved as a result of supportive collaboration.

Senior Constable John Kenworthy’s journey began when he was working as a dedicated motorcycle traffic officer with a passion for making Queensland’s roads safer. Throughout his career, John had always been committed to ensuring the safety of others, until his life took an unexpected turn.

In August 2020, while on duty in Mackay, John received a call for help regarding a serious injury traffic crash at Calen. Four individuals, including two young children, were trapped in a vehicle. John immediately rushed to the scene, determined to assist those in need.

As he navigated the winding roads, John came to the horrible realisation that he wouldn’t be able to make a sharp turn, leading his motorcycle off the road, through a hedge, and into a barbed wire fence. The barbed wire pierced his helmet, resulting in significant injuries to his eyes, face fractures, and lacerations. In that moment, John’s life was forever changed.

John became legally blind in both eyes and has undergone multiple surgeries. In mid-2021, he relocated to Brisbane and joined the Mango Hill/North Lakes Police Station. Senior Sergeant Mick Moate, the Officer in Charge, recognised John’s invaluable experience and skillset. The station worked to accommodate John’s needs, providing the necessary equipment and adjustments to ensure his continued success in his role.

John’s return to meaningful police work was both rewarding and impactful. He not only contributed through his daily tasks, such as transcribing telephone intercepts and handling listening devices, but also through his road safety advocacy and community work.

For workers who suffer serious injuries in motor vehicle accidents at work, WorkCover collaborates with the National Injury Insurance Scheme Queensland (NIISQ) to provide necessary treatment, care, and support. John expressed his gratitude for the overwhelming support he received, emphasising how it changed his life.

Reflecting on his journey, John shared a powerful message: “The best advice I can give to people is, every second in your life is important, and just make the most of it. You know, it would’ve been easy just to sit back and say, well, why bother? But why not?”

NIISQ proudly extend our congratulations to John, the Queensland Police Service and John’s wonderful support team. Thank you for inviting us to share in this momentous occasion with you.

Last updated: November 2023