Our Speakers

symonStill

Injury Prevention Speakers – Western States

Symon Still

PBF Injury Prevention Manager WA

“No one is immune from a spinal cord injury. There is only prevention because there is no cure”

Program: Workplace/Road

At 24 Symon’s life was moving fast and on track. Head Physical Education Teacher, high-level triathlete and top sportsman, he was focused and he had plans.

On Symon’s way to work, his mind wandered to these plans and he was struck by an inattentive driver on his way to the office. The crash left Symon with a permanent spinal cord injury and as a partial quadriplegic.

Symon visits workplaces and high schools to share his story with the intent to make employees and young drivers think about their actions and inactions, both on the job and behind the wheel. His story leaves audiences with the powerful realisation that goals and dreams can be shattered forever in the aftermath of a spinal cord injury.

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Rob Pike

“Your choices define your future, in a positive or negative way, it’s your choice!”

Program: Road (WA)

At the age of 17 and in year 12 Robert Pike’s life was ‘turned upside down’ in tragic car crash.  In the crash Rob lost 3 of his friends – one being his best friend, both his legs and broke his back.

Rob, a high level athlete with plans of a sporting career, was in the back seat of his friend’s new sports car on a wet Tuesday afternoon. The driver, Rob’s friend, lost control of the vehicle in the wet weather and they collided with a tree, slicing the car in half.

Rob the only survivor of the crash, shares with his audience what it is like growing up with great ambitions and how a tragic accident changed his whole life and the future he had pictured for himself.  Rob’s remarkable survivor story and details of the accidents causation factors, leaves everyone inspired and thinking about the type of driver they want to be.

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Keith Conder

Regional Consultant

“You can’t out-perform your own self-image”

Program: Road/Youth (WA)

At age 20, three weeks before sitting his final trade certificate exams, Keith and two of his friends were involved in a serious motor vehicle accident. Keith was driving and sustained serious spinal cord injuries that left him a paraplegic.

Through his presentations Keith, an enthusiastic hand cyclist and sailor, reveals how he overcame a physical disability and emotional scars to create a productive and rewarding life. Keith is a familiar face to high school students in Metro and Regional WA as he travels to schools from Kununurra to Esperance, sharing his inspirational story. After hearing Keith’s story audiences admit to changing their driving behaviours.

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Adrian Hollis

Program: Workplace (WA)

Adrian worked in the high-risk industry of power line construction and maintenance for many years. Dealing with risks and hazards that could result in death was an everyday occurrence. Dangerous situations and environments where not a problem for Adrian, he carried out risk assessments and acted accordingly to reduce the possibility of injury.

Leisure time was a mixture of martial arts, gym and riding motorcycles, however a few seconds of inattention resulted in a horrific motorbike crash.

As part of our Injury Prevention Workplace program, Adrian speaks of how a moment of distraction changed his life. Adrian also gives an inspirational presentation on his return to work program, back to the power line industry.

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Matt Cook

“Life in the fast lane is not always a party”

Program: Road/Youth (WA)

Matt’s life was fast paced with juggling work, partying with friends, playing sports and being in relationships. Matt loved his social life, had the admiration of girls and partied hard with the use of alcohol and drugs. In retrospect he was gambling with his life regularly, and one day drove under the influence of alcohol and drugs with the result being a serious car accident. Matt was hospitalised for four years and is a quadriplegic. He can no longer eat, drink, breathe or talk naturally. Matt’s life has changed forever.

Matt digs deep to find strength to overcome life’s struggles, to move forward as he wants to help the youth of today to not make the same mistake he made.

“Live, but live responsibly and be aware of the potential consequences; the actions you take at this moment can influence the outcomes of your future”.

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Angelo Pappicio

“My greatest fear was how I would provide for my family.”

Program: Workplace (WA)

Returning from a community function, Angelo was struck from this motorbike by a vehicle driven by a distracted driver. Angelo had just begun a new career in IT and his life goals were on track. Suffering from extensive injuries to his spinal cord, wrist and shoulder meant that rehabilitation was long and painful. Angelo’s employer provided a coordinated return-to-work plan, which meant he could continue to take care of his family.

Angelo’s positive outlook on life contributed to him successfully returning to full time work as a manager of IT projects. He shares his story with Return-to-Work/Injury Management specialists, to help motivate them and their injured workers and engage in a plan that will allow them to return to employment. Angelo is also part of the Injury Prevention team, motivating new drivers to follow the rules and drive safely.

Konnah Ruru PBF Injury Prevention Presenter WA

Konnah Ruru

“Don’t grow up too fast and don’t take life for granted.”

Program: Road (WA)

At the age of 16 Konnah had two passions, he was a musician and he liked to party with his friends on the weekends. On that fateful weekend Konnah and a bunch of his mates were driving from party to party, seven young men in a small two door hatch back. As Konnah was the youngest, the older boys made the decision that he would be the one to travel without a seatbelt.

When the car crashed Konnah’s injuries almost killed him. It took Konnah  6 months in ICU and the spinal unit to recover and he now lives with a high level spinal cord injury, C4 quadriplegia. Konnah shares his story with high school students, so they do not make the same mistakes he made, and to empower them to make the right choices on the road.

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Karen Harvey

“I saw all the warning signs, but thought nothing would happen to me”

Program: Road (WA)

Karen is a paraplegic, at the age of 22 she was involved in a car crash in a vehicle driven by her boyfriend, who was under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The car was travelling at 140km/hr and collided with a bridge. Karen’s many injuries included a severed spinal cord.

Rehabilitation was tough for this young mum who had aspirations of being a sportswoman. She took on motherhood and further career development with a strong will to succeed in life. Her story reminds audiences to assess risky situations and to make decisions to preserve your own safety.

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Kim Dybing

“Having a love for life doesn’t necessarily mean you take it for granted. It can change in an instant”

Program: Road (WA)

Kim was injured one month after his 21st birthday. A highly competitive and enthusiastic windsurfer, Kim also enjoyed off-road motorcycling. He was a young man high on life, with a solid future in the construction industry. For him “life was sweet”. Riding his motorbike after consuming alcohol and with a few simple distractions, Kim lost control and hit a power pole with such force the pole was brought down.

Kim’s injuries were extensive and life threatening. After 12 months of painful rehabilitation in Shenton Park Hospital, he returned home a paraplegic and now needs to use a wheelchair. Despite his injuries, Kim continues to have a positive outlook on life. As a PBF Presenter Kim shares his story, so that the people he engages with appreciate the freedom they have as able bodied people, and understand that the risks they take on the roads can result in permanent painfully injuries.

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Matt Naysmith

“It took me 21 years to get my life where it was, it only took one moment to lose it all”

Program: Road/Aqua/Youth/Workplace (WA)

In December 2007, with his career and life goals on track, Matt slipped from a rock in the Karijini National Park in WA. He sustained a permanent and complete spinal cord injury.

His story of injury and survival is part of the Injury Prevention Program delivered to high school students and workplaces. Matt’s story includes his insight into peer pressure, risk-taking behaviours and attitudes to safety. Matt was grateful to be a recipient of the PBF member benefit payment, as the sports club he belonged to were Corporate Members of PBF Australia.

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Mike Rowney

“Safety is an attitude and can be adjusted.”

Program: Workplace (WA)

While fishing in Greece, Mike fell from a friend’s yacht in the dry dock. The fall resulted in spinal injuries that caused permanent paraplegia. In 2001 Mike returned to his home in Perth, and now works part time as a PBF Presenter conducting workplace presentations on the importance of safety.

Mike’s story reveals all of the challenges a paraplegic faces – from financial ruin to ongoing health issues. Mike is extremely passionate about responsibility and safety, and his engaging story resonates with workplace audiences and community groups. Sometime after his accident, Mike generously sailed to East Timor to deliver wheelchairs to underprivileged children.

Nick Tuhakaraina

Nick Tuhakaraina

“Even if you think you’re doing the right thing in working hard, ignoring the signs can have a devastating effect on family.”

Program: Workplace (WA)

Nick was an international rugby player turned pro-wrestler and thought he was invincible. He was driven by his own philosophy of working hard to provide for his family. However, he also played hard and ignored an injury, which over time became very serious.

When it eventually became too difficult to perform, Nick found out he had developed a pressure on his spinal column which needed urgent medical attention. He had waited too long before seeking intervention and when he underwent surgery the result was paraplegia – an injury gone too far. Nick emphasises to his audiences to listen to your body and take care of personal health and your own safety first.

Nigel Barley

Nigel Barley

“I had no idea that a fall at work could have such life changing consequences.”

Program: Workplace (WA)

Nigel went to work like any other day, but he didn’t come home for 2 months. An unexpected fall at work changed his life. Nigel had worked as a roof tiler for over a decade – he knew what to do and he knew the hazards. However on that fateful day, poor work practices, complacency and lack of communication resulted in a two-metre fall.

Nigel’s message is that anyone can be injured. He encourages workers to think about the way they work, regardless of how many times they’ve done particular tasks, and how their actions at work can result in permanent injury. Nigel shares his own resilience and the fact that after a year of living with paraplegia he has developed a strong passion for hand cycling.  This passionate sport has led him to many successes, including achieving a medal at the London Paralympics in 2012.

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Paul D’Vorak

“Life should be an adventure.”

Program: Workplace/Road/Youth (WA)

During a birthday celebration Paul was pushed onto a trampoline and accidentally trampled on breaking his neck. Now an incomplete quadriplegic, Paul has limited use of his hands. He tells his story about the effects of alcohol and the ability to make sound decisions, and how without considering the consequences our actions can tragically impact on the lives of others including our friends.

Paul’s story of personal loss and life-changing events since his accident is inspiring. He currently lives in Bunbury WA.

Lenny Ettridge PBF Injury Prevention Presenter WA

Lenny Ettridge

“Humans realise how fragile they are when the body suffers a spinal cord injury. ”

Program: Workplace (WA)

Lenny Ettridge became a paraplegic as the result of a shooting accident in Mukinbudin. Spotlight shooting on a friend’s farm in March 1967, a loaded shotgun was left in the back of a vehicle pointing at the driver. Lenny’s story of a young man high on life is in direct contrast to the painful and challenging consequences he now has of living with paraplegia.

An acclaimed public speaker, Lenny is also a country singer and musician. His speaking and musical experience has made Lenny a master of connecting with his audience, with recent feedback confirming just how much everyone could relate to his story.

Neil Hart PBF Injury Prevention Presenter WA

Neil Hart

“Please don’t speed, you don’t want to spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair.”

Program: Road/Workplace (WA)

Neil was working overseas and was under pressure from the culture he worked in to get the job done quickly. This meant getting from one appointment to the next within a very tight timeframe. In order to make his delivery on time Neil was cruising at 160km/h when the rear tyre of his vehicle burst causing the vehicle to roll and throwing Neil from the car.

He sustained many injuries with the most severe being a permanent and complete spinal lesion. Neil shares his story with high school students and workplaces so people can hear firsthand the personal consequences of speeding.

Shane Agnew PBF Injury Prevention Presenter WA

Shane Agnew

“Live life to the fullest but make decisions with your personal safety in mind.”

Program: Road (WA)

Before his accident Shane worked Monday to Friday and partied on the weekend. Between partying with family and friends he enjoyed being part of a drag racing team, going to the beach, and surfing with mates. Most of all Shane loved to cruise in his HR Holden and ride his motorbike.

The accident was a direct result of Shane being distracted. He was looking away from the direction he was travelling, to see if people were watching him riding his motorbike. Not looking directly where he was going Shane struck a tree branch, which tipped his head backwards and dislocated his neck from his head, permanently and completely damaging the spinal cord.

Shane Agnew now lives with a spinal cord injury of the highest level possible, cervical level 1 (C1).

Kelly Rogers

Kelly Rogers

Program: Road (SA)

I went to my best mates 21st birthday party and at the end I got into the driver’s seat of my car to sleep. I don’t know how long I slept for but when I woke up I didn’t click my seatbelt in properly. I knew I was taking a risk by driving home but it was only 4km away.  Why did I do it?  To this day I can’t answer this.

The corner I crashed on was very familiar to me. It is a sweeping bend. An irrigation sprinkler had not long been turned off, so the road was wet. I thought I knew that road like the back of my hand but there is no such thing. On approaching the corner I lost control and the car hit a pole. On impact my head snapped backwards breaking my neck.

Kelly is one of PBF’s Injury Prevention Presenters based in Adelaide, SA.  She regularly shares her story to help people make smarter choices when it comes to driving.

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Brad Ness

Program: Workplace (WA)

A talented, athletic country boy, Brad had a big future ahead of him playing top level AFL football.  When he was 19 he was working for a well-respected and busy boating company.  Brad was performing his usual work duties when a procedure went wrong, communication was too slow and a rope caught him around his leg.  Brad lost his leg that day, along with many of his dreams and goals.

Brad was able to return to different duties at the same workplace and has reignited his sporting prowess through wheelchair basketball – captaining Australia to Olympic Gold.  He understands the importance of teamwork, leadership and how poor workplace safety can change your life in a second.

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Chris Kerr

Program: Road (WA)

Chris was into all types of sports:- basketball, netball, roller skating and swimming to name a few, however her passion above all things was horses.

At 15 years of age Chris was riding, doing track work for a racing stable, when her horse fell and crushed her. She sustained many injuries but the most severe was a permanent and complete spinal lesion. As a result Chris has created a new future for herself as a paraplegic.

She has worked hard to return to her active lifestyle, education, travel and family. Along the way Chris has overcome many barriers, both physical and attitudinal. She speaks to groups about resilience, recovery, and the power of personal choice in the decisions we make. Discussing how she has faced the consequences of life changing events. Events that altered her life path in ways you could never imagine happening to yourself.

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Clinton Van Roon

Program: Road/Workplace (WA)

It is often the smallest decisions that can cause the greatest life altering consequences.

Clinton Van Roon grew up in WA’s wheat belt on his parent’s farm. In his late teens he moved to Newman to work as a machine operator in the iron ore mines. Earning good money he saved up for a road trip around Australia.

As his adventure drew closer Clinton became less focused on his job, resulting in his supervisor sending him home early. Driving home angry, without a seat belt and at speed on an unsealed road, Clinton lost control. He over compensated and rolled his vehicle. At the age of just 23 Clinton was now permanently in a wheelchair.

Speaking to our audiences about his accident, its causes and consequences, Clinton also touches on substance abuse and how he has overcome his addictions. He focuses on appreciating what you have in life, your behaviour, courage and the importance of staying safe.

 

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Carl Akira Fujinami

Program: Aqua (WA)

Carl Akira Fujinami was a competitive teenage wrestler in his homeland of Japan, but a summer holiday in Perth changed everything.

Carl walked out into the shallow waters of Cottesloe Beach and dove into an approaching wave. Hitting his head with force on the wet compacted sand, Carl instantly broke his C4 vertebrae.

Now residing in Perth, Western Australia this young man shares his story of survival. As a quadriplegic presenter for PBF’s Aqua Program, Carl uses his story to highlight safe methods for entering and behaving in aquatic environments.

Life is a battle for Carl but it is far from over. His important message of resilience and keeping a positive approach to life regardless of adversities stays with his audiences long after he has finished speaking.

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Hilary Weeks

Program: Road (WA)

As an active 8 year old, Hilary spent most afternoons playing outside with the neighbourhood kids. The infamous Mr Whippy (ice-cream van) was a weekly visitor and an exciting ritual.  One afternoon, ice-cream in hand, Hilary stepped out from behind the van and tragically an 18 year old driver hit her.  The impact resulted in multiple fractures and a complete spinal lesion at T4.

Hilary’s presentation to senior students is gripping and profound, creating empathy as she describes her life as a teenager. A very different life to that of the young teenagers she presents to. She challenges students to be responsible drivers. Emphasising that driving to the current conditions is vital, as the driver who hit her had not considered the residential speed limit or the children gathered on the road.   You must consider other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and the lives that your driving could permanently alter.

On the positive side Hilary explains how getting her licence at 16 gave her much joy and freedom. She has achieved many accomplishments in life, sport, family, and travel. Keeping a happy frame of mind regardless of the adversities she has faced.

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