The following is an abridgement of an article originally published on the NSCA Foundation website on 24th October 2023.
A new study by Monash University will involve workers who have suffered work-related injury or illness in designing better workers 'compensation systems. The study aims to create a vision for a new approach that supports the recovery and return to work of Australians.
Every year, more than half a million Australians are injured or become ill at work, costing the economy billions of dollars. Australia has different workers compensation schemes for each state and territory, as well as for some national workers. However, these schemes are often stressful and complex for injured workers, and can hinder their recovery and well-being. Professor Alex Collie from Monash University said that workers compensation schemes treat injured workers as claims to be managed, rather than as vulnerable people in need of support.
The study, called Workers’ Voice: Harnessing lived experience to redesign Australia’s workers’ compensation systems. It will work with workers and their supporters to design a workers compensation system that reflects their experiences, views and preferences. Using a technique called participatory system modelling, the researchers will develop and test new design and delivery approaches. Collie said that most of Australia’s workers compensation schemes were designed in the 1980s, but the world of work and the types of injury and illness seen at work have changed fundamentally. He said that workers have a unique and valuable experience of workers compensation that should be heard and have greater weight in the way systems are designed and operated.
The study involves researchers from other universities, as well as injured worker support groups and networks around Australia. Collie believes that governments will listen to the study findings. He said that some of the largest workers compensation schemes have been under financial pressure and have been cutting benefits and restricting access to these schemes. Collie said that a better way to improve a system and make it sustainable is to listen carefully to people with direct experience of that system. The Workers’ Voice Project provides an opportunity to do just that. The study will run until2026, with major findings released periodically from 2024.
Aussie study to improve workers compensation by NSCA Foundation, 24thOctober, 2023.