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James was delighted when he was told he had been nominated by his Area Manager, Lucy Power, for an ARPA Award. Here he talks to us about his experience working in Occ Rehab and why he decided to become an Occupational Therapist. 


Being nominated for this Award in the midst of the COVID pandemic is impressive. How did it feel? 

It was a pretty good feeling. Honestly, I was really delighted and I’m excited to go to the next stage and see we go. 

Your Award Nomination is for New-Employer Services. That must have been a challenging area to be working in over the last year. 

It was a challenging and constantly changing environment. Some jobs were disappearing yet we were also Identifying new opportunities that didn’t exist before. For instance – we realised through our mining contacts and pre-employment medicals there were lots of casual openings for cleaners because all this additional COVID-19-related cleaning was going on. I think this is where having a really strong and close-knit team helps – everyone was sharing their contacts and spit-balling ideas. This is typical of the Townsville team; they are fun and happy, helpful and supportive. You really couldn’t ask for a better group of colleagues. 

The other positive thing to come out of all of this was the transition to online learning. A lot of the people I work with need to access study or training to help them upskill or reskill. Traditionally, this was done face to face but COVID-19 restrictions meant that people could no longer travel. So, we started to see a huge transition toward online learning. This meant more opportunities for people to access quality learning that they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to access locally in Townsville. While I think we are transitioning back to a ‘new’ normal now, the accessibility of online- learning will remain and be a real advantage for injured workers in future. 

When did you decide to become an OT? 

In school I had no idea what I wanted to do. I thought I’d either be a teacher, an exercise physiologist or an OT. When I was accepted into James Cook University, I initially studied sport and exercise science. But I didn’t love it and transferred into OT after 6 months.  

I remember being in my 4th year at JCU and doing a work rehab module, hearing from other Occupational Therapists about the industry. It was like a lightbulb moment. I felt like this was the right fit for me.  

When did you start at KINNECT? 

I was offered a position as a new-grad at KINNECT straight out of uni. There is so much to learn and two years on, I’m still learning new things every day. There is a great mixture of challenge and reward. One of the things I like most about the role is that there is variety, I get to travel to different places and meet interesting people. Last year I did a functional capacity assessment on a boat for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Another interesting place I have visited for work is a prawn farm. Sadly, I left without getting a free kilo of prawns! 

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most recently is going back to JCU with Lucy to talk about our industry and working at KINNECT. I can really relate to being that student sitting there and wondering what the world of work would look like. We’ve hired a number of new-grads from JCU this year and it’s nice to hear that these visits back to uni are having a positive impact translating into new KINNECTers.  

What’s next for you? 

For me, that’s really to continue learning and progressing. KINNECT are really committed to professional development. They actually do an internal leadership course here which I’m currently completing; the emerging leaders program. It’s designed to work on your leadership skills, give you a better understanding of the business practices at KINNECT and business practices more generally. Personally, I think there is a huge amount to gain from taking part. It’s great to hear from some of our directors in the business and really learn from their experiences. 

Find out more about our ARPA QLD Award finalists for 2021 and read more about the ARPA QLD Awards for Excellence on the ARPA website.


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