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Back to the future - A summary of the RTW results from the 2011 RTW Monitor

Dr Mary Wyatt and Sean Gleeson

RTW levels are returning to the rates of four to five years ago, but some of the previous standouts are lagging.

It's that time of year again - the Return to Work Monitor for 2010-11 has been released. Today we'll take a look at how Australia's various jurisdictions are performing on return to work rates. 

 

 

 

Return to work rates in Australia and New Zealand appear to have reversed the downward trend of recent years. The RTW rate (the amount of people who had returned to work for some time since their injury) has risen in both countries for the second successive year, to 86% in Australia and 87% in NZ. The durable RTW rate (that is, the amount of people who were still working at the time of the RTW Monitor survey) has also lifted again, to 77% in Australia and 78% in NZ. While Australia's performance on both measures still lags behind the exceptional results in 2005-06, it appears that Australia has lifted out of the return to work rut that occasioned the 2008-09 economic downturn. 

 

As we'll see, improvements in the more populous eastern states have masked poor performance by other states in the national figures. New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have all turned around their performance from two years previously, while South Australia, Tasmania and Comcare have fallen behind. The Northern Territory and Seacare have been excluded from the individual jurisdiction results below, due to their small sample size. Western Australia does not participate in the Return to Work Monitor. 

 

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New South Wales RTW rate has lifted for the second time in two years and now sits on the national average of 86%. NSW's durable RTW rate has risen to 76%, slightly below the national average. 

 

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Victoria's RTW rate has lifted dramatically in the last 24 months, from a GFC low of 80% to the national average of 86% in 2010-11. There has been a similar improvement in the state's durable return to work, from 69% to 76% over the same period.

 

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Queensland's return to work rate has remained steady on 86% over the last year. The state saw a slight drop in durable return to work, from 78% to 76%, as rates rose nationally. 

 

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South Australia bucked the national trend in 2008-09, recording a steep rise in RTW measures as a result of the Rann Government's WorkCover reforms. Since then, its performance has tapered off somewhat, remaining steady on 80% for its RTW rate. SA's durable RTW rate has dropped to 70%, slightly below the 2008-09 level. 

 

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Tasmania also performed well during the 2008-09 global financial crisis while other states floundered. A gradual drop in its RTW rate since then, from 91% to 87% in 2010-11, may be a sign of the lingering malaise in the Tasmanian economy. Tasmania's durable RTW rate also fell over the last year, from 82% to 80%. 

 

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Comcare's RTW rate fell from 93% to 87% over the last two years. The durable RTW rate remained steady at 81%, after a similar fall the yea

The Return to Work Monitor for 2010-11 reviews trends in return to work rates and influences in Australia and New Zealand.

This article summaries the return to work results from the 2011 Monitor, looking at trends across Australasia.  

Return to work rates in Australia and New Zealand appear to have reversed the downward trend of recent years. The RTW rate (the amount of people who had returned to work for some time since their injury) has risen in both countries for the second successive year, to 86% in Australia and 87% in NZ.

The durable RTW rate (that is, the amount of people who were still working at the time of the RTW Monitor survey) has also lifted again, to 77% in Australia and 78% in NZ. While Australia's performance on both measures still lags behind the very good results of 2005-06, it appears that Australia has lifted out of the return to work rut that resulted from the 2008-09 economic downturn. 

When the results are examined by jurisdiction, we see the more populous eastern states have masked poorer performance in some other states. New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have all turned around their performance from two years previously, while South Australia, Tasmania and Comcare have fallen behind. The Northern Territory and Seacare have been excluded from the individual jurisdiction results below, due to their small sample size. Western Australia does not participate in the Return to Work Monitor. 

In detail:

The RTW rate has increased over the last two years in Australia, but is not back to the 87% level of 2005-06. New Zealand has followed a similar pattern with RTW. Durable RTW has followed the same trends, though NZ has generally outperformed Australia.