Andrew Mifsud’s unwavering perseverance to recover and return to work after mental injury was recognised at the WorkSafe Victoria Awards, announced at a special event at the Grand Ballroom, Sofitel Melbourne on 29 February 2024.

The awards recognise excellence in workplace health and safety and return to work, and more than 100 nominations were received.

Andrew was joint winner in the Worker Return to Work Achievement category with Helene Visser, who also overcame a significant mental injury to get back to work.

“I’ve got a lot of people to thank,” Andrew told the audience of 350 people. “It’s a big journey and you have to ask for help and push yourself to get back to work. I’m not the type of bloke to stay home and watch Days of Our Lives! You’ve got to be a fighter, just keep going.”

Andrew Mifsud has been driving trucks for more than 30 years, but nothing could prepare him for the impact of witnessing a serious road accident.  

Andrew and another truck driver were first on the scene. They were able to get the injured woman out of the vehicle and began performing CPR until paramedics arrived. Despite their efforts, sadly the woman later passed away.

The psychological impacts of witnessing this accident were enormous and the next day Andrew resigned from work and began to withdraw from his wife and family.

Andrew Mifsud with his award and his wife Sandra (left) and senior case manager Kathy Anderson.

EML senior case manager Kathy Anderson was involved in supporting Andrew’s recovery.

"Initially, the focus was on supporting his mental health,’ Kathy says. ‘He was seeing a counsellor via his employer’s employee assistance program, but it was clear that he needed a higher level of support as his mental state was deteriorating."

Andrew was reluctant to tell his story to another provider.

Kathy really encouraged me to see a psychologist. I realised that I needed to help myself and decide about what I wanted to do in life. I still get visions and often get a scare at night, but I can talk about it now which helps me get through it," says Andrew.

With help from his psychologist, family, colleagues and his case manager, Andrew was slowly able to return to work.

"Andrew maintained a positive attitude and was committed to returning to work. He inspired me with his ability to be strong yet vulnerable, to feel so many emotions and always maintain respect for those around him," says Kathy.

Andrew Mifsud has been driving trucks for more than 30 years.

In February 2023, Andrew returned to work for four hours, two to three days a week doing general office duties, cleaning the trailers and undertaking some driver training. Due to his medication, he wasn’t allowed on the roads, however in time Andrew got clearance from his GP and was able to drive short distances. By mid-April he was back driving trucks, and now works as many hours as he was pre-injury.

Andrew credits the strong support of his wife and family in helping him recover and return to work. He is also grateful for the support he received from Kathy.

"She offered me everything to get me better and was always checking in. I’ll never forget her. She pulled me out of the gutter, I was a mess," says Andrew.