“It is the best feeling to be able to help people.”
The last thing Ben remembers on the day of his incident in 2006 was playing pool with some mates. The crazy thing is Ben was involved in a diving accident at the beach, but was so intoxicated that he does not even recall going to the beach. Diving into shallow water, Ben broke his neck at C4/5 and is an incomplete quadriplegic.
Move forward to today and Ben is a 35 year old talented artist who loves music. He presents for PBF Australia as part of the Juvenile Justice programs in WA. “It is the best feeling to be able to help people. Kids in class come up to me afterwards and shake my hand. My story is making a difference to their lives.”
Check Availability of Ben Chivers
PBF Injury Prevention Manager
“Always focus on what you are doing.”
Life for Darron in general was fantastic and 2002 was going to be a great year! He was a self-employed tradie and he had just returned from a long overseas holiday with the plan to move to Australia.
On 16 May, 2002 Darron had finished work early so, as a keen triathlete, he decided to head out on a training ride leading up to a local competition. This is the day Darron’s world turned upside down. Following a road accident he suffered permanent damage to his spinal cord resulting in paraplegia. Emergency surgery for 10-12 hours pinned fractures in both Darron’s neck and spine. His rehabilitation program took 8 months in hospital, including 8 weeks in a collar to repair the broken bones in his neck.
During this time Darron’s entire life was put on hold, along with his family and friends. As an incredibly motivated person, things eventually moved forward and his dream to live in Australia was fulfilled. Being a little sports mad, Darron now enjoys the sports of para-triathlon and hand-cycling, as they give the freedom of movement that he desires.
Professionally Darron hopes to make an impact on everyone who hears his story through his role with PBF Australia and their injury prevention programs.
Check Availability of Darron Shields
“The consequences of my injury have severely affected those closest to me. By sharing my experiences, we can learn from my decision and the risks involved on our roads and at work.”
It was 2016, Matthew was 22 years old, and had just graduated University with a physics and mathematics degree. Following his graduation, he began working as a radiochemist in Sydney when he was a pedestrian involved in a motor vehicle collision.
Matthew remembers the day and the accident clearly. Having just completed his radiochemist training, Matthew went out to lunch to celebrate his achievements. Making his way back to work he had a lapse of judgement by crossing the road as a jaywalker, when he was struck by a car on a Sydney highway. This left Matthew as a C3/4 quadriplegic, paralysed from the neck down. Following his injury Matthew was in rehab for 18 months while life was on hold.
Having seen the effects his quadriplegia has had on his family and friends, Matthew is eager to share his story to help raise awareness by educating people to make better choices in preventing accidents from occurring.
Check Availability of Matthew Allen
“An accident can just happen – even if you have not been the one to cause it.”
It was just another great weekend in 2007 on the bikes with his mates. Steve and his friends were not even riding hard, it was a casual weekend. He was a self-employed photographer for 10-15 years, married with a daughter and trying for another child. Steve loved cycling, trained daily and competed in local races. He loved spending time with his family outdoors, camping and gardening.
As a consequence of a trail bike accident, Steve sustained broken ribs, a punctured lung, 4 broken vertebrae and a severed spinal cord. He is now a complete T7 paraplegic and shares his story as part of PBF Australia’s Road Injury Prevention Programs.
Check Availability of Steve Richter
3 years after achieving her dream of moving to Australia with her husband and two young children, Joanna’s dream turned into a nightmare on 6th November, 2010, when she drunkenly fell and broke her neck, leaving Joanna with no active movement from her shoulders down.
What should have been a fun day at the food and wine festival, ended with guilt, remorse and a family changed forever. This was due to a chain of poor choices made throughout the day. Joanna was then left with the consequences of her actions and the long term effects, not just for herself, but also for her family.
Joanna is a C3 Complete Quadriplegic, using a chin controlled wheelchair with the need for a full time carer. Joanna doesn’t know what the future holds, but still believes in grasping and running with opportunities when they arise. Ten years on and Joanna’s life is full of meaning and spinal linked activities, that she never would have thought were possible.
Joanna became involved with PBF Australia and works with their team to raise awareness of how easily spinal cord injury can happen or be prevented.
Check Availability of Joanna Fowler
Check Availability of Tayla Stone
Clare was only 2 years old when her family were involved in a fatigue related road crash.
She sustained a permanent spinal cord injury and has used a wheelchair ever since.
Clare adapted well to her new way of life, growing up going to school in a wheelchair and being very active. She was involved in swimming for many years but at 16 years old Clare was introduced to wheelchair basketball and was hooked! She loved this team sport and has played at State and National level; winning medals at the 2008 and 2012 Paralympics with the Gliders (the Australian Women’s Basketball team).
Clare now shares her story with high school students as part of PBF’s road safety program
Check Availability of Clare Nott
“The effects on my family and friends were devastating. We knew nothing about spinal cord injury and had to learn as we went along.”
Robert was playing the position of Lock for the North Devils in his usual rugby league football match, he went into a tackle and unfortunately put his head in the wrong place. A player from the other team kneed Robert in the head and the force was enough to break his neck at C7 level.
It was only 2 days before Roberts’s 18th birthday, yet it ended up being 10 ½ months before he even got to go home. Robert’s goal today is to stay healthy. He goes to the gym, plays sports and simply gets on with his life doing the best he can.
Check Availability of Robert Spencer
“Your choices define your future, in a positive or negative way, it’s your choice!”
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 both his legs, broke his back and lost 3 of his friends — one being his best friend.
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 accident’s causation factors, leaves everyone inspired and thinking about the type of driver they want to be.
Check Availability of Rob Pike
“Work hard and enjoy life but make sure you’re getting enough sleep.”
Greg grew up on a farm, learning from an early age that work was hard and hours were long. This mentality continued throughout his life, in particular when supporting his young family.
In the lead up to his incident Greg was only getting 4 hours sleep per night. He always felt tired but was used to it, so continued to push himself. Early one morning Greg’s fatigue finally caught up with him. He fell asleep at the wheel, his car left the road and collided with a tree. Greg was only 2km from his destination.
Sustaining life threatening injuries, overtime Greg made a decent recovery. However he lives with quadriplegia from his C5/6 spinal cord injury. Greg shares his personal story so that others can see how important healthy sleep patterns are, and avoid the risk of fatigue related incidents.
Check Availability of Greg Willmott
“Why did I do it? To this day I can’t answer this.”
Kelly went to her best mate’s 21st birthday party and at the end, got into the driver’s seat of her car to sleep. Unsure how long she had slept for, when she woke up, Kelly didn’t click her seatbelt in properly. She knew it was risky to drive home but thought it would be ok, as it was only 4km away.
The corner Kelly crashed on was very familiar to her. It is a sweeping bend and an irrigation sprinkler had not long been turned off, so the road was wet. Kelly thought she knew the road like the back of her hand, but there is no such thing. On approaching the corner, she lost control and the car hit a pole. On impact her head snapped backwards, breaking her 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.
Check Availability of Kelly Rogers
“Being in a serious car accident has dramatically changed my life. I am now more aware of the dangers of the road and the responsibility of each person to drive safely.”
Kaitlyn was 19 years old, had just graduated high school and was working as an assistant to a real estate agent. Her dream to sell her first property at 19 came true in March 2014. That night Kaitlyn went out with friends to celebrate, however things quickly got out of hand.
It was 3am and raining. Kaitlyn’s boyfriend at the time was angry when he came to pick her up. They had a fight, he was distracted and consequently lost control of the car at speed on a wet road. They headed straight for a pole and the car smashed into it. Instantly Kaitlyn was paralysed from C6/C7.
In hospital Kaitlyn knew things were serious when she saw her dad and sister in tears. Kaitlyn woke from surgery to be told by the doctor that she would never walk again. The realisation of this and the journey has been hard, but Kaitlyn is getting more and more independent day by day, attending gym sessions, physio and other rehabilitation programs.
Check Availability of Kaitlyn Brown
“Encourage safer choices in the workplace.”
Rollo’s working career began at the age of 15 spanning the hospitality, transport, oil and gas and agriculture industries. Over the years, he experienced many varied workplace safety systems and cultures. Rollo made the decision to invest in his own business managing and driving heavy haulage trucks across Australia.
Drawing on his previous workplace safety experiences, Rollo implemented his own approach to ensure safety at work was always a focus and compliant. Unfortunately, this did not protect him from sustaining a permanent injury. Rollo was riding his motorbike on a Saturday morning when he was hit side on by a car, being driven by a distracted driver. As a result, Rollo lost his leg and sustained significant spinal damage.
As part of PBF Australia’s Injury Prevention workplace team, Rollo shares his experience of adopting different workplace safety systems, along with his own story and experiences of a serious incident resulting in permanent life altering injuries. Engaging with his audience, Rollo’s presentations aim to initiate constructive conversations regarding workplace safety cultures, to encourage safer choices in the workplace.
Check Availability of Rollo Craib
“I take safety much more seriously than I did before, because I now know and live with the consequences of being blasé about safety.”
Before his accident Paul was working as a site supervisor at a water reservoir on the Sunshine Coast in QLD. He and his girlfriend were planning on starting a family. He enjoyed riding motorbikes, fishing, camping and travelling.
Paul was under a lot of pressure at work. When packing up for the day he decided to do the right thing by securing the site, as there had been a theft the night before. The crew knew that the hook on the crane they were using was faulty, as they had tried to fix it months earlier.
Whilst moving the load of form ply, a 480kg pallet of bolts slipped off the top and hit Paul on the back of his shoulders. He now lives as a paraplegic and conducts workplace presentations sharing the details of his incident. Paul’s presentation addresses how his incident could have been prevented if he had taken more of a stand about proper safety standards at work.
Check Availability of Paul Carson
“Youth, inexperience and a country dirt road resulted in disaster for me.”
Megan had just finished year 12 when the decision to attend a mate’s father’s funeral changed her life forever. Driving 530km didn’t seem daunting at all – she was 17, had her licence and all the confidence in the world. A long country dirt road was Megan’s downfall. She lost control of the vehicle in loose gravel and careered through a paddock fence rolling 6 or 7 times. The driver’s door opened and the top half of her body was bounced against the hard dirt as the car rolled.
A fractured skull, head injuries, fractures to C6 & C7, collapsed lungs and a stroke were Megan’s initial injuries. She spent four months in hospital, another six months in a rehabilitation hospital and had open heart surgery. Megan left hospital in a wheelchair, paralysed down her left side. Over the next 5 years, she managed to graduate to a calliper, leg braces and finally a walking stick.
Megan currently works as a Teacher’s Aide, drives, swims, and socialises with friends – but has to contend with people drawing conclusions about her ability or disability. By sharing her story, Megan hopes that she can prevent young people from making silly mistakes and taking risks when driving.
Check Availability of Megan Loneragan
“PBF membership would have made a world of difference in my life.”
Jason started playing football at the age of 6 years old for Girrawheen. Football was his life, but he was also very active outside of football. Jason fished, camped, hiked and rode his bike any chance he got. Jason was a cabinetmaker at the time, had a partner and a young child at home and was applying to become a firefighter when he had his accident.
Jason was playing footy as per usual, the ball had been kicked up into the air and a pack of players formed below. He jumped over the pack but his legs were taken out from underneath him. Jason had no time to react so he landed on his head and shoulder, causing a permanent, traumatic spinal cord injury at C4-C5.
Unfortunately, Jason was not a PBF member at the time of his accident which meant he did not have 24/7 protection and was not eligible to receive the $250,000 PBF member benefit payment to help with immediate expenses.
Jason explains “PBF membership would have made a world of difference in my life, as the member benefit payment would have relieved the financial stress for both myself and my partner. I would have got out of hospital sooner, modified my vehicle and could have focused more on my emotional recovery.”
Check Availability of Jason Lewis
Jodie’s life changed forever when she was struck by a motor vehicle whilst cycling. The driver, was over the legal alcohol limit, found to be fatigued at the time as well as using their mobile phone whist driving!
Working as a dietician and gym operator, the spinal cord injuries Jodie sustained in this cycling accident completely changed the course of her life.
Jodie is an engaging presenter and has a passion for educating drivers. Her goal is to help minimise the number of drivers on Australian roads that continue to use their phones or drive whilst intoxicated.
Check Availability of Jodie Nikolic
Coming home from a party in 2006 changed Jess’s life forever.
Jess was 18, living in Bunbury and had started a career in aviation. A party Jess attended involved drugs/alcohol and Jess had a bad reaction to them, so she wanted to go home. Jess decided to get into a friend’s car but unfortunately the driver was also under the influence. She felt uncomfortable about the situation, however her need to get home outweighed her perceived risk. So she put her seat back and hoped she would wake up safely in her own bed.
That wasn’t the case. The driver lost control, crashing the car and Jess’s body went under the seatbelt and into the dashboard, breaking her neck. Since that moment in time Jess has lived with C4 quadriplegia.
Still living in Bunbury, Jess is now part of PBF’s Road & Youth programs. Speaking from her wheelchair, Jess’s presentations challenge young people to see that if they indulge in risky behaviour (such as drugs and motor vehicles) they too could end up living with permanent catastrophic consequences.
Check Availability of Jess Semark
“Don’t grow up too fast and don’t take life for granted.”
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.
Check Availability of Konnah Ruru
“Live life to the fullest but make decisions with your personal safety in mind.”
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).
Check Availability of Shane Agnew
“Safety is an attitude and can be adjusted.”
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.
Mike is planning his next sailing voyage to depart Fremantle in April 2022, hoping to make Port Hedland his destination. Mike will be stopping in a number of ports along the way promoting both the importance of having a good attitude regarding safety and the purpose and work that PBF Australia does.
Check Availability of Mike Rowney
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.
Check Availability of Carl Fujinami
In an instant Michael’s life changed.
Growing up Michael loved cars, sport, and having fun with his mates. One evening, when a passenger in his mate’s car, this fun turned to tragedy. His mate lost control and crashed into a tree. There were six people in the car, and none were wearing seatbelts. Michael was left a paraplegic. In an instant Michael’s life changed. He found things hard but was determined to make life good again. He started new challenges and got back his old job as a groundskeeper at a local primary school, inspiring many with the quality of his work from his wheelchair. He used his skills to win a gold medal for Australia in the landscaping category at the Abilympics.
Michael shares his story, challenging young drivers to think about making the right choices now, before it is too late.
Check Availability of Michael Francis
“I saw all the warning signs, but thought nothing would happen to me.”
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.
Karen tells her story to empower the younger generation to make good decisions and have the confidence to speak up if they are in a risky situation.
Check Availability of Karen Harvey
“I believe that safety is very important and the responsibility of everyone. Cutting corners to save time or staying up late so you don’t miss out on things in life may seem like a good idea at the time, but things can go wrong when you are tired or don’t follow correct procedure.”
Jason was 21 years old and working as a shot firer in a satellite mine near Kalgoorlie. The mine was shut down early that day due to torrential rain, so he asked his supervisor if he could go back to Kalgoorlie where he lived with his girlfriend.
Before starting at the mine, Jason was a karate 2nd Dan Black Belt and had represented Australia. He was looking forward to getting home to train at the local karate club. The trip back to Kalgoorlie consisted of 20km of dirt road before the main road. Jason failed to put his seat belt on and about 20 minutes into the trip (doing around 80km on a straight stretch of road) his car hit an old set of tyre tracks and he lost control rolling the car three times.
Diagnosed with a permanent spinal cord injury, Jason was determined to get on the road to recovery as quickly as possible. He conducts workplace presentations for PBF, highlighting that safety is not restricted to the work site. The effects of fatigue and not following the correct procedure can result in life changing injury at any time.
Check Availability of Jason McGregor
“A few seconds of inattention resulted in a horrific crash.”
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.
Check Availability of Adrian Hollis
On Boxing Day 1989, Michelina had recently finished her HSC and her family planned to drive to Adelaide for a 21st birthday party on New Year’s Eve. They never made it past Gundagai…
Another driver fell asleep at the wheel and came onto their side of the highway, hitting her uncle’s car head-on. Michelina’s parent’s car was in front of them and managed to swerve out of the way. She was a passenger sitting behind her uncle’s seat and took the brunt of the impact resulting in an L2 Spinal Cord Injury. Michelina’s life changed forever. Not only did she lose the use of her legs but also lost her uncle in the blink of an eye.
Michelina quickly realised that she would become an educator whether she wanted to be or not. Through education, she is able to knock down the barriers that pre-conceived ideas about spinal cord injury bring. Michelina believes it is so important to see the person before the wheelchair and educating about the consequences of road choices gives people the opportunity to be aware and make informed (and safer) decisions when they drive. She shares her story in the hope to minimise the risk of a catastrophic injury happening to her audience or their loved ones.
Check Availability of Michelina Pelosi
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.
Check Availability of Brad Ness
“Think before you act because you are not invincible”
Chris was 17 years old and into his second year as an apprentice mechanic. As a risk taker in general Chris lived his life thinking he was “ invincible”…. that was until an accident whilst riding his motorbike at a friend’s property left him with a broken back and fighting for his life.
In hindsight Chris realises that the choices he was making were likely going to end badly at some stage; it was just a question of when, and how badly. For Chris the personal cost of his choices was paraplegia. He lost his ability to walk and now lives with the daily challenges associated with permanent spinal cord injury.
After his injury Chris quickly returned to the activities he really enjoyed; travelling with friends, partying and riding motorbikes again, albeit with a new found appreciation for life and a much more responsible approach to risky activities. The message he wants to share is that we are not invincible and while risk is a part of life the consequences of your actions should be considered before rushing into things. Think before you act.
Check Availability of Chris Easter
Our Injury Prevention Speakers
Speaking out for prevention
Our injury prevention program speakers are inspiring individuals who have sustained a permanent injury; with many living full lives as a quadriplegic or paraplegic member of the community. Through our speakers’ personal stories, PBF is able to build greater awareness of the risks of spinal cord injury in Australia and as well as encourage safer workplaces and support better decision-making.
During our youth, road, aqua and workplace prevention programs, our speakers share personal accounts of the challenges of life before injury, decisions made leading up to the injury and the impact their injury has had on their life and the lives of those around them.
Road/Workplace/Youth Jodie’s life changed forever when she was struck by a motor vehicle whilst cycling The driver, was over the legal alcohol limit, found to be fatigued at the ....
Joanna’s Horse Ride
After breaking her neck in a fall Joanna is a C3 complete quadriplegic and uses a chin-controlled wheelchair An active PBF presenter Joanna believes that “anything is ....
Sir George Bedbrook inducted into Sport Australia Hall of Fame
13 October 2022 Pioneer of the Australian Paralympic Movement and founder of the Paraplegic Benefit Fund Australia inducted into Sport Australia Hall of Fame Perth, Western ....
National Photo Day
August 19th is National Photo Day, the perfect day to showcase PBF team member and photographer, Ebonny and her work “I’ve had a camera in my hands since I could walk, back ....
Meet Ebonny: Ebonny was a very active member of the community pursuing her passion in photography and gaining experience in a bookkeeping career She regularly enjoyed activities ....
“Don’t grow up too fast and don’t take life for granted” At the age of 16 Konnah had two passions, he was a musician and he liked to party with his friends on the weekends ....
PBF injury prevention programs
Everyday someone in Australia suffers a spinal cord injury While most Australians understand the importance of safety in the workplace, on the road and the water, very few people ....
The value of meaningful employment opportunities
Our own team members, who are themselves living as paraplegic or quadriplegic members of the community, are well positioned to comment on the positive impact of employment after ....