National Return to Work Strategy Overview

Find out what the Strategy means for workers, employers, treating health practitioners, workplace rehabilitation providers, insurers and claims managers.


The National Return to Work Strategy 2020 – 2030 (the Strategy) drives national action to improve return to work outcomes for workers with a work-related injury or illness. 

Workers are at the heart of the Strategy’s vision to minimise the impact of work-related injury and illness, and enable a timely, safe and durable return to work.

A positive return to work is multi-faceted. It involves a range of stakeholders working together to support the worker through their recovery and return to work.

You can take action now. The Strategy is an evidence-based framework that offers everyone in the return to work process the opportunity to reflect on their own policies and practices. 


Download a copy of the National Return to Work Strategy, the Snapshot poster, and Subscribe to our mailing list to receive the lastest information.

Download the Strategy Download the Snapshot Subscribe for updates


This snapshot provides a high level overview of the Strategy. It summarises what the Strategy will do, who it is aimed at, how success will be measured and who will oversee and drive action
This snapshot provides a high level overview of the Strategy. It summarises what the Strategy will do, who it is aimed at, how success will be measured and who will oversee and drive action.
Safe Work Australia endeavours to publish documents optimised for accessibility, the above snapshot image is also available in an an accessible text only version.


Latest news

We’re excited to release a suite of short animations that summarise the Strategy and its five Action Areas. We’ve also started work on the first national research initiatives under the Strategy and released the Measurement Framework that outlines how we will measure the success of the Strategy. See below for all the details.


Watch our short animations on the five Action Areas .

  1. Supporting workers
  2. Building positive workplace culture and leadership
  3. Supporting employers
  4. Supporting other stakeholders
  5. Building and translating evidence 

National Initiatives

Supporting workers to have a timely, safe and durable return to work is a national priority for Safe Work Australia. 

The first tranche of national initiatives under the Strategy have been agreed by Safe Work Australia Members. These early initiatives focus on workers, workplaces and employers, addressing evidence gaps and building knowledge to inform future national action. 

Research on workers’ understanding of workers’ compensation, return to work, health literacy and their communication preferences

  • To provide insights into effective ways to improve workers’ understanding and access to the right information, at the right time, through the right channels. 

Research to support workers’ psychological responses to injury and their associated return to work

  • To provide a deeper understanding of psychological responses workers may experience that could influence their recovery and return to work, and identify opportunities to better support workers.

Research on the causes and impact of stigma in workplaces, and approaches to creating positive workplace culture that support return to work

  • To build on existing work around how stigma and workplace culture can influence return to work outcomes, and identify opportunities to apply best practice to the workplace.

Scope a national employer survey to capture data and gain insights into employer capability, capacity and experiences in return to work

  • To address a critical evidence gap to capture the employer’s perspective, complementing the worker’s perspective gained through Safe Work Australia’s biennial National Return to Work Survey.

Measurement Framework

The Measurement Framework outlines the approach to measuring progress towards the three national strategic outcomes in the Strategy:

Strategic Outcome 1 – increase in workers staying in or returning to good work following a work-related injury or illness. Strategic Outcome 2 – increase in positive return to work experiences for workers with a work-related injury or illness. Strategic Outcome 3 – increase in employers preparing for, effectively responding to and managing work-related injury and illness in the workplace.

Measuring return to work is complex, with many factors influencing return to work outcomes. The Measurement Framework is based on existing national measures and available data and will be reviewed as new or improved data and measures become available.

Download the Measurement Framework document and Methodology for the Measurement Framework document.

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