CQ man leads na­tional com­pany

The Morning Bulletin - - NEWS - Am­ber Hooker Am­ber.Hooker@cap­news.com.au

RHYS Kennedy al­ways wanted to play a role in re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Dur­ing his for­ma­tive years as an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist with Choice Pas­sion Life (CPL), he rev­elled in the small steps; in­di­vid­u­als reach­ing their goals.

It was while he stud­ied a Mas­ter of Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion at CQUniver­sity’s Rock­hamp­ton cam­pus, Mr Kennedy re­alised he could have a greater im­pact if he moved up the rungs.

Now, the Emer­ald-raised, for­mer Rock­hamp­ton man has been ap­pointed chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the na­tional com­pany he has served for 12 years.

“When I first started in oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy, I was more fo­cused on the in­di­vid­ual goals, and see­ing progress in what they’re do­ing,” Mr Kennedy said.

“I thought I would have more of an im­pact if I were man­ag­ing ther­a­pists.

Mr Kennedy worked for CPL in Rock­hamp­ton for seven years, pri­mar­ily with chil­dren, be­fore he be­came the al­lied health man­ager for the Rock­hamp­ton and Wide Bay dis­tricts.

Even­tu­ally, his ca­reer led him to Bris­bane where he started his own ther­apy or­gan­i­sa­tion, be­fore his most re­cent ap­point­ment.

“Now (as CEO) I am af­forded a real priv­i­lege, the op­por­tu­nity to visit 47 lo­ca­tions... meet­ing some re­ally amaz­ing peo­ple who work for us, they’re pas­sion­ate about what they do,” he said.

Dur­ing his child­hood and school­ing in Emer­ald, Mr Kennedy said health was al­ways his pas­sion.

“I chose oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy be­cause I like the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tive side of health sciences, help­ing peo­ple to un­lock their po­ten­tial,” he said.

“Dur­ing univer­sity I did work with peo­ple with cere­bral palsy – dur­ing that place­ment I re­alised the im­pact and dif­fer­ence peo­ple could make with good sup­port.”

Mr Kennedy is a self-con­fessed “change-ad­dict”, and said there is al­ways more work to be done to­wards a more in­clu­sive, ac­ces­si­ble and un­der­stand­ing so­ci­ety.

“I like to set my­self a vi­sion of what we think our world could be like in the fu­ture, that’s what ex­cites me the most; how do we in­no­vate, build a bet­ter so­ci­ety ac­cept­ing of all peo­ple... speak­ing with the com­mu­nity helps us un­der­stand bet­ter,” he said.

Mr Kennedy said one in five Queens­lan­ders have a dis­abil­ity, and en­cour­aged peo­ple “be aware, seek un­der­stand­ing” and look at what we can do to make build­ings, fa­cil­i­ties, busi­nesses and the com­mu­nity more ac­ces­si­ble and in­clu­sive.

He said the Na­tional Dis­abil­ity Insurance Scheme, com­ing in 2018, is the next big step in the right di­rec­tion.

“The NDIS means there will be more peo­ple funded in Queens­land, more peo­ple who have ac­cess to ser­vices and sup­port... it’s pretty ex­cit­ing,” he said.

Mr Kennedy said there were 2500 peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in Rock­hamp­ton cur­rently re­ceiv­ing fund­ing; a num­ber ex­pected to grow to 4900 when the NDIS is in­tro­duced - a growth of about 96%.

Mr Kennedy said ini­tially the work­force would grow to about 650 to 800 em­ploy­ees.

Once the NDIS is fully rolled out 1500 to 1800 jobs will be cre­ated in the re­gion.

CPL sup­ports 8000 peo­ple across their 47 lo­ca­tions in Queens­land and north­ern New SouthWales to live their on own, be ac­tive, go to school or univer­sity, get a job and im­prove their health.

They cur­rently as­sist about 250 clients and em­ploy 100 peo­ple in Rock­hamp­ton.

REACH­ING GOALS: For­mer Rock­hamp­ton man Rhys Kennedy has just been ap­pointed the Choice Pas­sion Life CEO af­ter start­ing his ca­reer as an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist.

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