For Chris Williams, a former aborist from country Victoria, owning his injury was key to his recovery.
“When you own your injury, you accept it, and you try to build what you are, to what you want to be,” says Chris, who sustained multiple injuries requiring numerous surgeries after a car accident at work.
It’s been a long road to recovery, and Chris won a WorkSafe Award last year for his commitment to returning to work. He has also shared his story via an EML video in the hope of helping others make that transition.
“I had to adjust to a new normal,” says Chris. In addition to undergoing a challenging rehabilitation process to regain his physical mobility, Chris also had to adjust to major changes in his working life.
From working outdoors in a very physical job as an arborist, Chris returned to work in a mainly office-based role, and he credits the support of his colleagues, family and EML as key to his recovery and return to work.
“Returning to work was great for social interaction with my old work crew,” says Chris. “It was also good for my mental stability, as well as good for my partner because I wasn’t home all day getting stale.”
EML’s Senior Mobile Case Manager Robyn Bruce supported Chris in his recovery.
Over 18 months, Robyn met with Chris and his treating health practitioners more than 30 times and supported him through the many challenges during his recovery. She expedited access to treatment, supported Chris and his family and worked with his employer to help successfully return him to work.
“It was working through what Chris thought he could do,” says Robyn. “Also, working with his employer on what they thought was available and that it was meaningful role for Chris. They were happy to have Chris back for an hour, two hours – whatever worked for Chris.”
Chris new role still involves working with trees, and he has almost completed a qualification in arboriculture.
"One of the main things that really helped me recover was staying 100% positive,” says Chris. “And to look to the future and think big and think beyond, as the only thing holding you back is yourself.”