Australian Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Work

Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Occupational Physicians garner stakeholder support to influence policy initiatives and stakeholder management of work and health
Australian Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Work

At the heart of this consensus statement regarding the health benefits of work is a shared desire to improve the welfare of individuals, families and communities.

Realising the health benefits of work for all Australians requires a paradigm shift in thinking and practice. It necessitates cooperation between many stakeholders, including government, employers, unions, insurance companies, legal practitioners, advocacy groups, and the medical, nursing and allied health professions.

We, the undersigned, commit to working together to encourage and enable Australians to achieve the health and wellbeing benefits of work. We acknowledge the following fundamental principles about the relationship between health and work.

  • Work is generally good for health and wellbeing.
  • Long term work absence, work disability and unemployment have a negative impact on health and wellbeing.
  • Work must be safe so far as is reasonably practicable.
  • Work is an effective means of reducing poverty and social exclusion, including that faced by indigenous populations and other currently disadvantaged groups. With appropriate support, many of those who have the potential to work, but are not currently working because of economic or social inequalities, illness or acquired or congenital disability, can access the benefits of work.
  • Work practices, workplace culture, work-life balance, injury management programs and relationships within workplaces are key determinates, not only of whether people feel valued and supported in their work roles, but also of individual health, wellbeing and productivity.
  • Individuals seeking to enter the workforce for the first time, seeking reemployment or attempting to return to work after a period of injury or illness, face a complex situation with many variables. Good outcomes are more likely when individuals understand the health benefits of work, and are empowered to take responsibility for their own situation.
  • Health professionals exert a significant influence on work absence and work disability, particularly in relation to medical sickness certification practices. This influence provides health professionals with many opportunities for patient advocacy, which includes, but is not limited to, recognition of the health benefits of work.

Government, employers, unions, insurance companies, legal practitioners, advocacy groups, and the medical, nursing and allied health professions all have a role to play in promoting the health benefits of work. Through actions appropriate to our various areas of responsibility or activity, we agree to:  

  • Promote awareness of the health benefits of work;
  • Offer support and encouragement to those attempting to access the health benefits of work;
  • Encourage employers’ continuing support of workers’ occupational health; and
  • Advocate for continuous improvement in public policy around work and health, in line with the principles articulated above. 

Adult Medicine Division of the RACP

Association of Self Insured Employers of Queensland

Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine

Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine

Australian and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine

Australian Association of Occupational Therapists

Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine

Australian Counselling Association

Australian Federal Police

Australian Life Underwriters and Claims Association

Australian Osteopathic Association

Australian Physiotherapy Association

Australian Psychological Society

Australian Rehabilitation Providers Association

Australian Society of Rehabilitation Counsellors

Business Council of Australia

Career Industry Council of Australia

Chiropractors' Association of Australia


Ford Health

Health and Productivity Institute of Australia

Medibank Health Solutions

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

Police Association of NSW

Police Federation of Australia

Public Health Association of Australia


Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General

Royal Australasian College of Physicians

Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

Safety Institute of Australia

SafeWork Australia

WorkCover New South Wales

WorkCover Queensland

WorkCover South Australia

WorkSafe Victoria

WorkCover Western Australia

WorkSafe Western Australia

Published 04 April, 2011