Strategic priority 2: Return to work

We know a return to work is an important part of an injured worker’s recovery.


Increase efforts to identify injured workers whose recovery is not going to plan

We know we can achieve better return to work outcomes by focusing our attention on the 20% of injured workers whose recovery doesn’t go to plan. The earlier we can identify these workers, the earlier we can provide them with the tailored multidisciplinary support they need to achieve their recovery and return to work goals.

In 2021-22, work in this area will include:

  • 16-week reviews to identify injured workers at risk of developing more complex needs and then tailoring support to build up their capacity to return to work
  • evolving the recovery and return to work program to provide specialist support to workers who develop a mental injury after an initial physical injury
  • strategic facilitated discussions using an expert pool of occupational rehabilitation consultants to help resolve mental injury claims where interpersonal conflict has prevented a return to work
  • refining the Employer Performance Program, which involves direct engagement with key government departments and other large employers to ensure supports are in place to facilitate an early return to work, with a focus on primary mental injury
  • retraining and job-seeking support for injured workers who cannot return to their pre-injury role or pre-injury employer.

Employ a strategic, multi-faceted approach to addressing barriers to recovery and return to work

Guided by our return to work strategy, we will support more injured workers to achieve an early and sustainable return to work through proactive management at all stages of recovery. This will be enhanced as we build a deeper understanding of the barriers to a return to work and the most eective interventions to overcoming them.

In 2021-22, work to advance the return to work strategy will include:

  • a communications campaign to promote the importance of earlier and regular employer-worker contact after a workplace incident
  • driving agent investment and programs that build capacity to deliver improvements and return to work outcomes
  • research to broaden understanding of barriers to a return to work following a mental injury, and the most effective interventions
  • closer collaboration with medical and treatment providers
  • a review of what motivates an injured worker to return to work and what factors influence employers to employ workers with ongoing injury-related needs
  • implementing legislative change for provisional payments so that workers with a mental injury can access treatment and support earlier and recover faster.

Measuring our performance

It is well known that for most injured workers an early, positive, meaningful and sustained return to work experience is a critical part of their recovery journey.

We will measure and monitor the recovery journey of our injured workers from very early on through to the 26-week mark and intervene early to strengthen support where their recovery is not going to plan.

We will also measure the impact of the support we provide to our longer-term injured workers – many with complex needs. We need to ensure our support options and alternative pathways are improving their recovery.

For many injured workers, the impact of COVID-19 on their return to work and workplace was considerable. In late 2020, 36% of injured workers had not made a return to work six months post injury.

Through 2021-22, we will target our programs to where we can make the biggest impact on return to work, with a goal of lifting back at work (26 weeks) performance to 75%.

Actual 2018-19
Actual 2019-20
Actual 2020-21
Target 2021-22

Back at work (16 weeks)





Back at work (26 weeks)





Back at work (52 weeks)





Back at work (104 weeks)