Workplace Rehabilitation Consultants and Their Role in Promoting the HBGW

A Workplace Rehabilitation Consultant (WRC) can be instrumental in bringing the concepts and principles of HBGW to life across Australian workplaces and in the healthcare field. A WRC uses their allied health qualifications and high level communications skills to assist people with disability, illness or injury, to recover at work and achieve independence at home, in the workplace and community – making them pivotal in achieving health, social and financial outcomes benefiting all stakeholders.

WRCs undertake a broad range of activities, such as identifying and solving problems to address biomedical and psychosocial risk factors, vocational and workplace assessment, vocational counselling, training and job placement, case management, injury prevention and management, and planning and coordinating services including independent living.

WRCs are committed to the principles that:

  • good work, in general, is good for us and long-term work absence, disability and unemployment have, in general, a negative impact on health and well-being
  • earlier return to work (RTW) leads to earlier recovery; being at work after an injury or illness (even before a worker is 100 per cent recovered) can be therapeutic and promote recovery.

A WRC is usually appointed independently, to assist both employer and injured worker in the recovery at work process. This unique and neutral position is often key to their success in influencing employers and workers alike, to heed the HBGW message. During the rehabilitation and recovery at work process, the WRC is provided a platform to promote the HBGW message in one-to-one situations with workers, employers and treating health professionals and can discuss the benefits to all stakeholders, increasing the take up of the message and bringing about successful outcomes.

A positive rehabilitation experience (with a successful RTW with the same or a new employer) positively demonstrates and reinforces the HBGW message to employers; helping spread the word at a grass roots level within organisations.

Many WRCs work for member organisations of the Australian Rehabilitation Providers Association (ARPA) – the peak representative body for Australian workplace health, recovery at work and rehabilitation industry. ARPA’s mission is to promote and advocate for best practice, cost effective and outcome-based rehabilitation and many member organisations are therefore signatories to the HBGW Consensus Statement. Furthermore, ARPA has a position on the Australian Signatory Steering Group (SSG) whose purpose is to further champion the integration of the HBGW policy agenda in the industry sector.

ARPA National CEO and representative on the Australian HBGW SSG Mr Nathan Clarke said:

"ARPA are 100 per cent committed to promoting the HBGW within the community, as evidenced by our biennial conference held last year in Melbourne, where the theme of the conference was Health Benefits of Good Work – Your Best Investment. However, it is our member organisations and their staff that have a real opportunity to make a real change here and I think they are. Over the course of the year, these staff are having hundreds of thousands of conversations with a range of stakeholders, including doctors and employers, about how to get an injured worker back to work safely, sustainably and as quickly as possible, utilising and extolling the principles of the HBGW. They assist organisations and individuals in a range of activities such as workplace assessment, arranging and attending case conferences and liaising with all relevant stakeholders (e.g. doctors, employers, insurers and injured workers) in the recovery at work process."