Workers' compensation

What is workers' compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that can offer you an important safety net if you become injured or ill because of work. 

Under Australian law, employers must have insurance to cover their workers in case they get sick or injured because of work. 

How can workers’ compensation help you?

It offers financial support to enable you to focus on getting better without having to worry about treatment costs. It also provides rehabilitation services to ensure that you have a safe, durable and timely return to work. 

Depending on your injury or illness, workers’ compensation may:

  • Cover some of your wages while you recover away from work
  • Cover medical and hospital costs, as well as other rehabilitation treatments
  • Pay a lump sum if you receive a permanent impairment
  • Pay funeral expenses, periodic payments for dependents and lump sum compensation to support your family, if you are tragically killed at work 

Workers’ compensation also offers a range of other types of support such as education and training, domestic assistance and access to networks of medical specialists and rehabilitation providers.

Workers’ compensation in Australia

Australia has 11 main workers’ compensation schemes that connect the injured worker to services and support from the employers’ workers’ compensation insurer. 

There is a scheme for each state and territory and 3 Commonwealth schemes. Each one is governed by different laws and may vary in the way it operates. 

What we do

Safe Work Australia is a national body that looks at ways that workers’ compensation schemes in Australia can be made better and more consistent with each other.

We do this by doing policy work which consists of developing information and materials based on research undertaken. The main aim of our work is to ensure that workers’ compensation works well for the Australian workforce. 

Safe Work Australia does not administer workers’ compensation schemes or manage workers’ compensation claims. This is the responsibility of the Commonwealth, states and territories who manage their own workers’ compensation arrangements.

To fulfil our role, Safe Work Australia: 

  • Collaborates with the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories workers’ compensation authorities, and other national and international bodies. Our biennial publication of the Comparison of Workers’ Compensation arrangements in Australia and New Zealand report is an example of work undertaken through collaboration. 
  • Conducts research and data collection to develop and evaluate workers’ compensation policies and strategies.
  • Publishes workers’ compensation research and data to support improvements in workers’ compensation across Australia.
  • Develops and implements national education and communication strategies to improve workers’ compensation arrangements in Australia, for example, the 10 year National Return to Work Strategy. 

Further information

For specific information on making a workers’ compensation claim please contact your workers’ compensation authority.