National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030 Central Repository

Our commitments under the Strategy include promoting best practice:

  • tailored, client-centric and coordinated approaches to return to work, underpinned by the principles of good work 
  • culture and leadership that drives positive and supportive workplace relationships and behaviours
  • approaches in providing suitable duties and other workplace adjustments to ensure workers’ timely, safe and durable return to work
  • return to work programs, policies and plans that embed the Strategy’s guiding principles.

The Strategy’s 10 Guiding Principles

A set of guiding principles support the National Return to Work Strategy 2020-2030 and it strategic outcomes, and characterise a positive return to work outcome for workers. These principles underpin and cut across the practice of all stakeholders, and should govern behaviours, policies and practices at the individual, organisational and system levels. 

  • These guiding principles support the strategic outcomes, and characterise a positive return to work outcome for workers.
  • These principles underpin and cut across the practice of all stakeholders, and should govern behaviours, policies and practices at the individual, organisational and system levels. 
  • The guiding principles acknowledge the influence that both employers (organisational hierarchy, systems and processes) and workplaces (organisational culture, leadership and relationships) can have on workers and return to work outcomes.

For further information please see the:

National principles for communicating workers’ compensation information to workers

Safe Work Australia has created a set of national communication principles which aim to ensure effective communication with workers who seek information about workers’ compensation.

Included is a checklist, a useful tool to help you apply the principles when developing communications for workers about workers’ compensation.
Go to the National principles for communicating workers’ compensation information to workers.

The Health Benefits of Good Work 

The Health Benefits of Good WorkTM (HBGW) is an initiative from the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP). This initiative is based on compelling Australasian and international evidence that good work is beneficial to people’s health and wellbeing and that long term work absence, work disability and unemployment generally have a negative impact on health and wellbeing. 

Compensation Policy and Return to Work Effectiveness project (COMPARE)

SWA supports Monash University’s COMPARE project which undertakes research to develop an evidence base to support effective return to work policy and practices in Australia. In 2020-21 COMPARE published research findings in peer-reviewed journals covering the impacts of legislative reform, payment step-downs, psychological distress amongst claimants, experiences of the health care system, and regional differences in time off work and disability burden. 

Taking Action: A best practice framework for the management of psychological claims in the Australian workers’ compensation sector

This Taking Action framework provides practical and evidence-based guidance to assist workers’ compensation insurers and claims managers to better support workers experiencing psychological illness or who are at risk of developing one.

Managing the relationship with an injured or ill worker during return to work: A guide for supervisors in small and medium businesses

This guide is designed to assist supervisors support and stay in touch with workers who suffer a workplace injury or illness, and make changes to the workplace and/or work duties to assist workers return to work sooner.

Safe Work Australia partnered with the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA) to produce a guide for supervisors in small and medium businesses to manage the relationship with an injured or ill worker during the return to work process

Based on a 2020 BETA project which produced similar resources targeting return to work arrangements in the Australian Public Service, the guide acknowledges that small and medium businesses face unique challenges and opportunities in supporting workers to return to work following illness or injury.

Research reports

Workers’ understanding of workers’ compensation: Research into Australian workers’ understanding of workers’ compensation systems and their communication preferences. 

Stigma towards injured or ill workers: Research on the causes and impact of stigma in workplaces, and approaches to creating positive workplace cultures that support return to work, 2021.

Psychological response to injury: Research to support workers’ psychological responses to injury and successful return to work, 2021.

Return to work in psychological claims, 2017

Jurisdictional Resources


GP resource to support good mental health

Comcare has collaborated with WorkSafe Victoria to adapt a video by Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Dielle Felman for national use. The Assessing capacity for patients with a psychological condition video provides information and recommendations for GPs on how to assess capacity for patients with a psychological condition.

Assessing Capacity for Patients 2019 from Comcare on Vimeo

Rehabilitation and RTW Guidance    

Comcare has released a rehabilitation case manager handbook to support better practice rehabilitation management in the scheme. The handbook is a comprehensive ‘how to’ tool for rehabilitation case managers that is available online and complements the training that is also available.  

Rehabilitation case manager handbook (

Practical tools to support supervisors and improve return to work outcomes of injured or ill workers

In 2020 the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA) published research on Returning to work after illness or injury which included an accompanying suite of practical resources to guide supervisors in their conversations with injured or ill workers during their return to work journey. BETA recently revised these resources based on feedback provided by Comcare. For more information click here.

New South Wales

SIRA has a variety of resources and programs for a range of stakeholders that support recovery and RTW:

  • RTW coordination eLearning
  • Small business assist tool
  • Videos that highlight the importance of workplace culture on RTW
  • Mentally health workplaces toolkit
  • Have you been injured at work tool
  • Claims Management guide
  • Recover at work assist for small business
  • Work trial
  • Connect2work
  • Equipment & workplace modification
  • Training
  • JobCover placement program
  • JobCover6
  • Transition to work

More detailed information on all these programs and resources can be found by searching their title on the SIRA website.

Northern Territory

Information Videos (Animated)

A number of information videos have been developed and the following are available on the website. The video for aboriginal workers has been translated into Yolngu Matha, Warlpiri, Kriol and EC Arrernte.

For further information see Workers' Compensation | NT WorkSafe.

Return to Work Plans

NT WorkSafe has developed an information page on what is return to work, included in this is a return to work plan template and flowchart for employers.

The template and flowchart steps employers and workers through the plan in review of the medical certificate. It is designed to make clear what the worker can and cannot do when they return to work, and when this will be reviewed.
For further information see Return to work plans (RTWP) | NT WorkSafe


Workers’ Psychological Support Service

This is a free, independent and non-technical service that connects psychologically injured workers’ to existing community and social support services to help minimise the impact of their injury. 

The service is designed to be brief and connect workers to the support services they need. It provides links to community services such as emergency accommodation and housing support, family and domestic violence services, grief and loss support, financial counselling and social inclusion programs. It is available to injured workers with primary or secondary psychological injuries who have experienced the Queensland workers’ compensation claims process and is accessible via face-to-face consultation as well as video and tele-conferencing.

For further information see

Workers’ Compensation Advisory Information and Service (for workers) 

The Workers’ Compensation Advisory Service for workers is delivered through the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) and provides technical workers’ compensation information to workers including but not limited to; applications for compensation, review and appeals and the medical assessment tribunal functions. The independent information service is designed to directly support workers upon their enquiry. In addition, the service provides information sessions to Queensland union delegates regarding the Queensland workers’ compensation claims process, including employer and worker responsibilities regarding rehabilitation and return to work and the role of the information service.

For further information see

Workers’ Compensation Advisory service (for employers) 

The Workers’ Compensation Advisory Service for employers is delivered through the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) and provides technical support to Queensland employers through a toll-free helpline. The CCIQ also deliver educational material through regular topical webinars and face to face events throughout Queensland designed for employers, with a strong focus on Rehabilitation and Return to Work compliance, best practice, and systems and processes reviews.

For further information see

Injury Prevention and Management (IPaM) Program

The program aims to review workplace safety systems and return to work systems against standards contained in legislation and guidelines and to assist the workplace in meeting compliance and best practice standards in these areas. 

For further information see Injury Prevention and Management program |

South Australia

Mentally Healthy Workplace Consultant

Through a Mentally Healthy Workplace Consultant, ReturnToWorkSA provides employers with support and tools to develop, implement and monitor and review a mentally healthy workplace. This service is a free service and extends to employers in regional areas.

For further information see Mentally healthy workplaces (

ReSkilling Program

ReSkilling is a program aimed at providing services to workers who move to a ‘new employer’ goal or have more than 3 months off following their injury.

The service is designed to provide participants, often during their recovery, with skill maintenance in a safe and supervised environment, or the opportunity to develop new skills to improve employability.  

For further information see ReSkilling (

Western Australia

Educational videos

WorkCover WA’s education videos provide an overview of important processes and topics relevant to workers’ compensation and injury management and were created to provide support and information to stakeholders.
Since the education videos were launched  in 2017, a total of 12 videos (including one translated into Chinese-Mandarin and Bahasa Malaysia) have now been published on the WorkCover WA website.

For further information see Educational videos - WorkCover WA


WorkWell Toolkit

WorkWell is a free online tool developed by WorkSafe and the Department of Health to support business leaders to build mentally healthy workplaces. Workwell provides step-by-step advice tailored to business size and industry type, as well as industry specific policy templates, resources, videos, case studies and more.

For further information see WorkWell Toolkit - WorkWell | WorkSafe Victoria

Mobile Case Management

Mobile Case Management (MCM) is a face to face meeting that can involve a combination of the injured worker, employer, the worker’s GP or other treating health practitioner, to discuss injury management, treatment and return to work options. MCM has been part of the WorkSafe model since 2016. There remains significant opportunity to expand use of MCM for injured workers with a primary mental injury claim. In 2021/22, WorkSafe will support face to face and virtual delivery of MCM with face to face remaining the most successful delivery method of the program.

WorkSafe has a number of key programs and guidance to support workers and employers in the RTW and recovery journey.  These can be accessed via the following links:

Case Studies 

The following case studies highlight positive workplace cultures, leadership and relationships that encourage early reporting of injury and illness and support return to work SWA will look to develop further case studies over the life of the Strategy which will be provided in this section.

Data and Evidence 

A core function of SWA is developing and maintaining an evidence base to inform WHS and workers’ compensation policy and practice. It also helps to significantly reduce the incidence of work-related death, injury and illness. This includes: 

The National Return to Work Survey

The survey is undertaken on a biannual basis and compares the return to work experiences and outcomes of injured workers against a number of variables, including returning to work, workplace rehabilitation and employer support.

COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims

The COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims report provides a snapshot of COVID-19 related workers’ compensation claims from 1 January to 31 December 2020 and uses preliminary data from Commonwealth, state and territory workers’ compensation authorities and details claims by type, industry, occupation and jurisdiction.

Australian workers’ compensation statistics

This annual report provides detailed workers’ compensation statistics, including trends over time and statistics on time lost from work and compensation paid. Data are presented by key variables such as industry, occupation, age group and sex. The reports also include information on the circumstances surrounding work-related injuries and diseases.

Psychosocial health and safety and bullying in Australian workplaces

This is the sixth annual national statement issued by SWA to identify trends in psychosocial health and safety and bullying in Australian workplaces. The data presented in this statement are accepted workers’ compensation claims caused by mental stress.
Comparative performance monitoring report. Read the Psychosocial health and safety and bullying in Australian workplaces statement.

Comparative performance monitoring report

The annual report analyses trends in work health and safety and workers’ compensation scheme performance across Australia and New Zealand. 

The latest report can be viewed in three parts: 

View previous Comparative performance monitoring reports


More information

National Return to Work Strategy

National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030 Overview