Meet Hawk

Meet Hawk Vagg

Inspirational workplace, conference and event speaker
Safety Speaker
Disability Advocate and activist
Author of the inspiring book “Attitude is Free – I had to learn that it was not all about me.”
Dad to four young men

In December 1998, tall strapping farmer, Hawk Vagg was standing on a tractor’s front-end loader on a farm near Jerilderie NSW, elevated so he could cut down the higher branches of a huge river red gum which had toppled in a recent storm; as he chain sawed off the last big trunk, he miscalculated the way it would fall and it knocked him off the tractor. Hawk plunged onto a steep river bank - a fall that changed his life forever.

Hawk Vagg was 38 years old with a wife and four boys aged eleven, nine, three and two when he became a quadriplegic. Hawk’s journey from devastation and despair back to living a full and productive life taught him a lot about himself and life in general. He realised that life is all about ‘attitude’ – controlling your attitude.

He also learnt that when life deals you tough cards, that it doesn’t just impact you, but can also be devastating for all the people around you. Hawk learnt during his recovery that ‘it wasn’t just about him’, and he was inspired to share his story and teach people about ‘attitude, safety and culture’ so that other families don’t have to go through the type of pain that impacted his family.

Hawk tells his moving story with candour and humour. He reflects on his injury and his past as a strong resilient “man of the bush” to his current reality and his considerable achievements in between. He covers the long rehabilitation process; how family and friends adapted to his injury; the kindness of communities; becoming independent with his personal care; the fight for compensation; building a wheelchair friendly house; making noise as a injury advocate; the frustrations of looking for work; the sex life of a quadriplegic; the upside of learning to fly before his accident; the downside of flying after; the upside of fatherhood from wheelchair; the breakdown of his marriage and finding love again; his belief in the importance of attitude and starting a business as a motivational speaker. Hawk doesn’t want to become a Health and Safety trainer – That’s for others to do, he says. Hawk wants to teach and inspire people about ‘attitude’ and making ‘safety’ a normal part of everyday work. Today, Hawk travels Australia by air or in his specially converted van from his home in Toowoomba, Queensland, speaking to community groups and workers across all industries. That’s how he became - A Safety Speaker.

“Not having control of my attitude and letting a ‘dangerous culture’ evolve in my workplace changed my life forever. I look forward to sharing my journey with you and making attitude, safety and culture central in your life.”

- Hawk




  • You have been given a gift as a Life Saver

    I sat through your presentation yesterday with mixed emotions those of sadness, sorrow, anger… where you can directly and indirectly impact and change the lives of many… you have been given a great gift of a Life Saver to many but at a tremendous personal sacrifice. I have asked myself what could I do for Hawk, my families, peers, colleagues and friends and came up with — Think and act safely in everything I do and ask / tell others to do the same to protect them from harm. 97.8% of our delegates said Hawk’s presentation was excellent / good.

    Rick Alcock, National Manager, Construction Oil & Gas L&H Group
  • Inspired by his words

    Yesterday both myself & Ashlea Wright were invited to attend the Shell Global Safety day at the Pinkenba terminal on behalf of G4S Secure Solutions. As part of the presentation, we were privileged to listen to Hawk Vagg and his story relating to the accident in 1998. Hawk’s powerful and heart wrenching description of the events, & the people affected by that day in 1998, left both myself & Ashlea moved & inspired by his words. Hawk’s message has had a huge impact on my approach to everyday moments in life & highlighted the need to be vigilant & remain safe wherever we are in life, be it at work or home. In conjunction with Shell’s presentation, it was an uplifting & educational approach to what remains a common goal amongst us all – a safe workplace/environment. On behalf of G4S, I would like to thank Shell for extending the invitation. I wish Hawk Vagg continued success with his presentations around the country and personally thank Hawk for raising my safety awareness to a higher level of appreciation. Good Luck Hawk. Thank you all.

    John Broughton Branch Manager QLD G4S Secure Solutions
  • The boys comment about things you made them aware of in your presentation

    Hello Hawk, better late than never, I would like to thank you for the day you spent here on site. As recently as a week ago, some of the boys comment about things you made them aware of in your presentation. The feedback has been very good and attitude to safety awareness have changed for the better. Your posters are a very good reminder for the workers, not just the workers that were there on the day, other workers have commented on them as well. I believe the effects of your visit will assist in keeping the safety awareness on the right track for some time.

    Russelll Mallett, Safety Officer Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal Pty Ltd
  • It made a real impact on everyone

    Hi Hawk, I hope you are well. The guys are still talking about your presentation, it made a real impact on everyone. We are making a poster and just wanted to check with you if it was ok to use your “mantra” — “She’ll be right mate, But… what if I am wrong”

    Greg McCluand, Plant Manager, Iplex Pipelines Australia Pty Ltd
  • Choices and consequences

    Hawk shared his story with the Moorvale team and left everyone with a powerful message to stop and think about the choices you make and the consequences they could have on you and the people around you.

    Nicole Challen from Leighton Contractors Moorvale Mine
  • A very relevant and worthwhile experience

    I just wanted to let you know that we had great feedback for Hawk ranging from our Sub-Contractors, Business HSEQ Director and Regional Director. Thank you for assisting with the organisation of what was a very relevant and worthwhile experience.

    Laura Greene Laing O’Rourke OHS – Port Botany
  • I could see it made an impact on the lads

    I just wanted to say that I thought your speech / presentation was brilliant, it was a very hard hitting speech that I could see it made an impact on the lads. I thought it was well delivered and your detailed description of the accident really hit home. I was especially moved by the aftermath of your accident and the way it’s affected you and your life.

    Neil O’Donnell, H&S Advisor Port Botany Laing O’Rourke
  • I took away some personal reflections and timely reminders

    I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and thanks for your heart-felt and very personal presentations here for us at Toowoomba Regional Council. I have received very positive feedback from attendees at both sessions you delivered last Wednesday. Overall, I took away some personal reflections and ‘timely reminders’ to remember about some of the decisions we make in life, especially around keeping safe both personally and for those around us.

    Andy Van der Syde – Toowoomba Regional Council, Senior Organisational Development Officer
  • You are an inspiration

    Hi Hawk! Thanks so much for speaking with us today at Pacific Seeds. It made a huge impact and I’ve already had many staff members tell me how beneficial the talk was and that it really made them think. We’ve even got a worker who has now decided to call the professionals at home to do a job that her and her husband had planned to do this weekend. You are an inspiration and I look forward to seeing you in the near future for phase 2.

    Michelle Lennox, Occupational Health & Safety Office of the Toowoomba Branch of Pacific Seeds
  • Accolades and praise for Hawk Vagg’s safety presentation

    In short — bloody awesome Hawk was fantastic. He was extremely professional but also down to earth and realistic. They presented and pitched the session at exactly the right level for the audience. I am sure Hawk was able to “turn on a few lights” as I like to say. I know that some of the audience, particularly the younger workers, found it confronting initially but with Hawk’s style and honesty everyone left the room with a stronger resolve to take the actions they need to in their work fronts.

    Mike Tierney, CMC
  • Your message was very clear

    Hi Hawk, I would like to thank you for coming to our project recently to deliver your powerful safety message from your own personal experience to our BSO project employees, the message of complacency, not looking after yourself and your workmates was very clear with the outcome if you carry out an unsafe act it will change your family, friends and your life forever. The days you were here on site changed the way people looked at the safety of themselves and others and has continued since you left, your name and circumstance is often raised out in the field by the employees, at prestart and induction to site. Thanks once again and will see you again on another job.

    Regards Russell Barham | Lead EHS Specialist. Broadmeadow Sustaining Operations Project Site Address: Gate 18, Red Hill Road, PMB Moranbah QLD 474
  • I enjoyed your talk

    I enjoyed your talk and will stop and think about what you said next when going to cut corners.

    Nathan Otago

    Hi mate! or should I say LEGEND! I had a bad day yesterday dealing with stuff, Thought I had it bad! I was speechless listening to your journey! Mate you will forever be in my thoughts.

    Masey Jase
  • You could have heard a pin drop,

    Hi Hawk, I would like to thank you on behalf of Bechtel Equipment Services Gladstone for coming to our yard recently. Your presentation sent a powerful safety message to our employees from your own personal experiences. You could have heard a pin drop, the employees were so intentive. You really brought home the message of safety. We are looking forward to your next presentation.

    Bechtel Equipment Services Gladstone
  • Mate you are an insperation keep it up.,

    Hi Hawk. I felt compeled to contact you after hearing you speak to us at Commodore mine Millmerran on the 29/05/13. Mate keep telling your story if it saves one person suffering what you have gone through it will be a good outcome. Made me stop and think, Hawk i have done the same thing that you did and got away with it pure luck on my part. Mate you are an insperation keep it up.

    Regards Les Goodall