Dr Mary Wyatt



Self effacing, warm, always positive Mary Wyatt is a consummate professional dedicated to return to work.

She graduated from Monash University Medicine with Honours winning the Carnation Award for Paediatrics in 1979.

For the following six years she enjoyed postings in a variety of exotic locations.  Beginning with Darwin then Abu Dhabi, UAE and KwaZulu.  Mary still has a preference for hot weather, very hot weather.

Returning to Australia to General Practice in 1986 Mary undertook further study gaining a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Health in 1995 and a Masters in Public Health in 1998, followed by a Graduate Certificate in Musculoskeletal Medicine in 2002. She became an Occupational Physician in 1997.

In the area of return to work Mary has worn many hats:  treater physician, assessing physician, reviewing workplaces for return to work, conciliator in dispute resolution, and as a manager involved with the development of effective return to work systems.

She teaches at Monash and was a member of the Victorian WorkCover Advisory Committee from 1993 to 1998, serving on a number of sub committees primarily concerned with the development of back pain guidelines for Victoria and the world leading public back campaign. 

In 2001 Mary won the Volvo Award for Best Clinical Research Paper in back pain.  Recognised nationally and internationally for her work, Mary's friendship is prized for her wonderfully warm and supportive personality. 

Her dedication to making a difference in peoples' lives led to Mary and others to establish OccCorp in 2001. There she managed a team of 25 case managers to coordinate return to work across a range of industries and company sizes. 

Returning to private practice in 2005 Mary founded and remains Chair of The Foundation for Research into Injury and Illness in the Workplace (ResWorks) a non profit organisation, which developed the Return To Work Knowledge Base,  and led to the development of Return To Work Matters as an online network and resource for Return To Work Professionals which she edits. 

Mary chairs the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Policy Committee and is a member of the College of Physicians Policy and Advocacy Committee. 

All this while bringing up a family and dealing with a husband who would rather be fishing. Mary's is the mind that directs the support services, resources and research material on the Matters site, while ensuring that the highest ethical standards are maintained.


Articles by ‘Dr Mary Wyatt’
Webinar recording: Speak to recover — the art of messaging in injury care

Dr Mary Wyatt explores the effects of messaging on managing work-related injuries. She uses 2 case studies — on back pain and supervisor involvement — to analyse the role of communication and...

Webinar recording — X-ray visions of doom: Why radiology results can hinder back pain self-management

Dr Wyatt discusses the rise in spinal radiology over the last 30 years and the harms that come with it.

Self-management — the muscle behind effective musculoskeletal care

Self-management of long-term musculoskeletal conditions 101 — the basics.

Webinar recording — It pays to care: from policy to practice

Dr Mary Wyatt introduces the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine's recently-launched policy on work injury scheme design and explores some practical approaches to...

Getting the workplace onside

A guide to help insurance case managers, RTW Coordinators and rehabilitation providers motivate immediate supervisors and senior managers to better manage work injury.

Case study: Regulator-led case management success

Evidence from a US jurisdiction shows that top-down reforms can improve RTW outcomes, improving outcomes while reducing costs.

An evidence-informed approach to motivating change

Motivating injured workers to make positive change may become easier if you match your approach to their current ‘stage of change’: denial, considering change, preparing to take action, actively...

A new focus on case management

Dr Wyatt describes the current state of case management in Australia, and asks for your help in identifying a positive path that benefits injured workers and improves conditions for case managers too.

Webinar recording: Case management - The good, the bad and the ugly

In this webinar, the first in a series of webinars on case management, Dr Mary Wyatt outlines the core elements of the case management process and discusses what gets in the way of us doing a...

A scheme leaders’ approach to turning around RTW

A conversation with the NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA).

Workers' compensation needs better healthcare - Part 2

Positive change may be inspired by centers of excellence and everyday positivity emulated by treating practitioners.

Workers’ compensation needs better health care – Part I

Dr Wyatt explains how problems with agency, explanation deficits, delays and disputes, over-medicalisation and failure to deal with distress and whole, complex people (rather than just their...

Webinar recording: Good healthcare - what is it and is your worker getting it?

In this webinar Dr Wyatt explores what constitutes good healthcare in work injury management and how you can recognise it.

Will workers' comp scandals overshadow pervasive human costs?

Yes, workers' compensation schemes have been poorly managed. Real change will come when there is a supportive approach to improving health and recovery outcomes, with positive leadership focused...

Telehealth in workers’ comp

Our in-house expert and seasoned Independent Medical Examiner, Dr Mary Wyatt, explains telehealth pros and cons, and shares hacks to get you to the top of the learning curve quickly.

Webinar recording: Case management - Early identification of people at high risk for work disability

An occupational physician's guide to identifying and supporting high-risk individuals and common barriers to return to work.

Video: How to get the most out of RTWMatters

An introduction to the resources available with tips on how to get the most out of your subscription

Webinar recording: Understanding musculoskeletal problems - Part 3 - Shoulders and knees

In our final webinar of our series, Dr Wyatt explains common shoulder and knee problems and how to assist employees with related conditions.

Webinar recording: Understanding musculoskeletal problems - Part 2: Neck and Back Pain

In part two of our three-part series, Dr Wyatt explains common neck and back problems and gives practical tips to help employees manage them at work.

Gold medal for relationship management goes to...

WorkCover Queensland! But unlike the Olympics, we'll happily hand out more golds to others with similar relationship development.

The research and analysis behind our new training package for supervisors

Dr Wyatt describes the six years of research, reflection and experimentation that have gone into RTWMatters' new hybrid training package for supervisors.

Webinar recording: Understanding musculoskeletal problems - Part 1: Introduction

In part one of a three part series, Dr Wyatt covers the basics of musculoskeletal conditions, including difficulties employees face.

New insurer approach reduces delays in decisions about healthcare

Delays and disputes are stressful and can have a negative impact on recovery and return to work. The Medical Support Panel in NSW gives speedy, evidence-based answers to questions around work...

And now what?

For ten years, national RTW rates have remained stagnant. Why? And what hope does Dr Wyatt see on the horizon for injury management and RTW?

Form-fitting functional abilities to workers

A simple but effective South Australian initiative helps physios communicate with GPs about patients' functional abilities.

How has the Clinical Framework helped?

A cooperative, supportive approach and clear expectations about treatment has helped allied health professionals get derailed RTW back on track.

Common-sense claims processes are on target

In some jurisdictions, claim lodgement processes have become more user friendly and proactive about early intervention. What are the benefits?

Webinar recording: Deal with it early, deal with it right

The value of effective injury reporting systems

I'm going to make you persuasive...really, really persuasive

President Donald Trump is one of the 21st century's great persuaders. This series looks at the tactics he uses well (and not so well). First up, pacing and leading.

Nobody builds better reciprocity than me, believe me

Actually, we don't believe you, Mr President! In the second in our series of articles on the persuasive tactics of Donald Trump, we look at one of his weaker points: reciprocity.

I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be persuasive

People want to be like other people, hence the persuasive heft of "social proof". In our third article on persuasion, we see what The Donald has to say about grown up peer pressure...

Now I go on a television show...and everyone thinks I'm such a nice guy

In this article on Donald Trump and the art of persuasion, we examine the way small commitments become big ones.

I love the poorly educated: Trump's persuasive compliments

Being likeable also makes you persuasive. In our sixth article on persuasion, we explore the power of compliments, similarity and cooperation.

Trust me, I'm like a smart person

Authority builds trust, a powerful persuasive tool. In our fifth article on persuasion and Donald Trump we ask what can we learn from boasts about wealth and intelligence.

Carpal tunnel: The nerve of it!

An introduction to the physiology, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Light at the end of the carpal tunnel

Work activities can contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome, but prevention and recovery are also possible in the workplace.

What's with that knee? A first look

An introduction to knee injuries, covering the most common types of work-related knee problems, as well as the important questions to ensure accurate diagnosis.

Knee injuries: first steps

The DOs and DON'Ts of best practice early intervention following knee injury.

Webinar recording: Employers - The biggest influencers in RTW

Dr Wyatt discusses the lessons for employers from Return to Work Survey findings

Better than ever: Enjoy the revamped RTWMatters website

Our best content is now easier to navigate. Keep an eye out for new research and resources that will make a practical difference in RTW, coming soon.

Webinar recording: Independent Medical Examiners: Assessing capacity for work

Dr Mary Wyatt explores the role of the IME in assessing work capacity for injured or ill employees.

Webinar recording: Supervisors and co-workers, vital but often overlooked links in RTW

This webinar explores evidence on how supervisors and coworkers can influence RTW, and how to get them involved productively

Case Study: It pays to do the right thing, even when dubious about a claim

Michael was a 48-year-old machine operator. He had been at the workplace for nine months. During his probation period he worked well, but once permanent he missed considerable time from work with...

Case Study: Time to heal

Mr L, a tall, solid-framed, right-handed 58 year old man, reported pain in his right elbow. While improvement was reported over six months, he began to notice similar symptoms at his left elbow.

Case Study: How Things Can Go Wrong in Compensation Cases

This case study looks at the additional injuries which can occur as a result of the workplace injury.

Case Study: Injured, but not at work. What to do?

Workers with injuries sustained away from work may be tempted to protect their financial interests by lodging a compensation claim anyway. Dr Wyatt describes how support and boundaries can help.

Case Study: Exploring other job options

This case study explores the importance of providing options for the injured worker's return to work.

Webinar Recording: Supervisor Training

This webinar presentation with PIEF discusses the impact of training supervisors on return to work outcomes.

Examining supervisor competencies and return to work

Competencies supervisors need to affect positive RTW outcomes for workers suffering musculoskeletal and mental health conditions.

Tension before and after an injury

A cost analysis of workplace culture and its impact on return to work

eLearning: Musculoskeletal troubles

Understanding the difficulties everyone faces with musculoskeletal problems can help you help workers

Using telephonic case management for health interventions

Evidence shows that picking up the phone improves RTW outcomes

Using telephonic case management for assessment and triage

Telephonic methods can be used to assess the clinical and work participation needs of people with common health problems.

Broken people from broken systems

For many injured workers, the greatest challenge is not the extent of their injuries but the depth of their despair.

Work and osteoarthritis of the knee

A research based look at the evidence on work contribution to knee osteoarthritis

Work and shoulder problems

The connection between work and shoulder problems

Guidelines on shoulder rotator cuff problems

Flow charts detailing shoulder pain treatment

Chondromalacia - now what is that?

Information on knee cartilage disorders, their treatments and a case study.

Cartilage tears

Knee cartilage tears explained

Why we are pro best practice case management

Dr Wyatt reflects on research she conducted, highlighting that the worker-centred approach substantially reduces costs.

The jewels of case management

Trust, efficiency, senior management involvement and the all-important connection between the injured worker and the workplace shine brightly in this description of the elements of best practice...

The good news about neck pain

Does neck pain worsen or improve with age?

Neck pain and work

The age-old question: Does work cause spinal problems?

My dickie neck — the medical route is limited

Dr Mary Wyatt shares her experience as both clinician AND neck ache sufferer and concludes that self-management beats the medical route.

The neck vs. the shoulder

Why we should look carefully.

Different states of whiplash

Epidemiological studies show that whiplash rates vary enormously between jurisdictions. Why?

8 steps for tackling long-term cases - Part 1

Picking up a long-term case for the first time can seem daunting. Here are a series of steps to help you structure your approach.

8 steps for tackling long-term cases - Part 2

Picking up a long-term case for the first time can seem daunting. Here are a series of steps to help you structure your approach.

Musculoskeletal conditions: Part one - a primer

Musculoskeletal disorders are a leading cause of compensated injury, but what exactly are they?

Musculoskeletal conditions: Part two - dealing with MSDs

How do you deal with musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace?

Working on depression

Depression can be an underappreciated yet significant condition in the workplace. Knowing how to recognise and deal with it can therefore be beneficial to both a worker's health and the...

Workplace Culture

What is a good workplace culture? What effect does workplace culture have on injury and return to work? ...What even is workplace culture?

Health Promotion and Wellness

This course covers the importance of health promotion and its effects on productivity, in the context of implementing a health and wellbeing plan in the workplace.

Returning to Work and Reintegration

How to go about bringing an employee back into their job fast and effectively.

Difficult or long term cases

How to deal with those cases that don't fit the usual template, and how to get those employees back to work.

Communicating About Pain and Injury

Effective communication is a vital skill in general, but comes into play especially when dealing with injured employees taking time off work. Knowing how to talk and actively listen can...

Disability policies, reporting systems and costs

Reviewing the benefits of an efficient work disability policy and different injury reporting systems. Further, how costs of injury claims should/are managed, and how to detect trends in cost...

Setting Up a Workplace Disability Program

This article outlines how to set up a program to deal with workplace disability, and the responsibilities of each member of the organisation in achieving quick and effective return to work.

Participatory Ergonomics and Ergonomic Principles

Ergonomics in the workplace and its involvement with workplace injury

Video presentation: Standing workstations

Standing workstations can create problems. We look at how you can minimise these issues and provide a better workplace.

Video presentation: Seated workstations

Seated workstations are not complicated to set up well. We cover the basics so you can help others avoid problems.

Video presentation: Introduction to ergonomics

This introduction to ergonomics introduces the basic principles of ergonomics and why you'd want to address it at the workplace.

Video presentation: Participatory ergonomics

Combining ergonomics WITH participation opens up a treasure load of possible solutions.

Video presentation: Psychosocial ergonomics

Job design includes the physical layout, AND how jobs fit the person's psyche. Deadlines, flexible work practices, control, and workplace culture need to be addressed to prevent and manage...

Decisions about surgery: The rock and the hard place

Successful surgery starts with the best decision about whether surgery should be performed.

Leading the pack or dragging it down?

When one part of the system underperforms, the others follow suit.

Developing a successful rehabilitation program: case study

Interview with Garry Pearce, Director of Rehabilitation for the Tasmanian Department of Health.

Video: Understanding discs

Disc bulge, disc degeneration, disc protrusion. Terms that worry patients, most of the time unnecessarily.

Decision-making justice: Part three

What works and what does not work in the decision making process. A must read for claims / case managers.

Decision-making justice Part 1.

A good decision making process is worth its weight in platinum, making this a key read for claims staff and decision makers.

Decision-making justice: Part two

Another must read for claims / case managers: how you cannot afford to get it wrong, and how you can get it right.

Why train supervisors and line managers in return to work?

A Powerpoint presentation on the whys and wherefores of supervisor training in RTW management.

Rotator cuff troubles - video presentation

Shoulder problems are the second most common work-related musculoskeletal problem. Here's an overview of rotator cuff conditions, the most common cause of shoulder problems.

Job Rotation - 3

Implementing job rotation.

Job Rotation - 2

Overcome the common barriers and ensure employee buy-in.

Job Rotation - 1

Want to boost productivity, improve job satisfaction and reduce the incidence of musculoskeletal injuries?

Webinar: Back Pain and Return to Work

Back pain accounts for a large proportion of injury claims, and a higher proportion of long term disability. Medical issues are important, but how the workplace deals with the employee has a...

Price for patients of no-cost compensation

Should workers' comp recipients share treatment costs with their employers?

The opiate trap

The use of opiates in chronic pain cases should be carefully monitored. Patients need a high level of support and a good understanding of treatment options.

Moving backwards on backs

The messages of a $6 million public health campaign about back pain are being lost thanks to good intentions and a lack of consistency.

What's the go with Rehab in the US?

Our first ever multimedia feature! An interview with Mary Harris, US disability management professional, exploring the three key challenges facing RTW in the US.

A challenge to policy makers

How much do we know about how different workers' comp systems influence health outcomes? And what could we do with this information?

Toxic Doctors

What do you do with a toxic doctor?

The patient's mouth

Getting the information you need to facilitate RTW shouldn't be as painful as pulling teeth - you just need to ask the right questions...

Learning from the Vet

Getting in touch with connectedness


Ten tips to loosen your tongue and ease your mind when that big presentation looms.

Fact sheet: Plantar fasciitis

Painful inflammation of the heel and foot.

Flagging the obstacle course of bad outcomes

From the hot tubs of New Zealand to the bread and butter of a RTW Coordinator's work.

Run off your feet?

RTW Coordinators who manage time well do better. What are the secrets to good time management?

Back to the past

Back pain flare-ups are a normal part of recovery.

Dealing with the victim mentality

In response to a reader's questions, our resident Occ Phys explains how to encourage a proactive approach to return to work.

Are workplace activities harmful?

Despite growing perceptions that workplace activities cause and complicate injuries, the evidence suggests the opposite.

We need an Industry Association, how about it?

Let's get better organised - our response to a reader's request.

Harmonisation housekeeping

Our advice for legislators? Don't rearrange the lounge suite while there is mildew growing up the walls.

Can we cooperate for workplace health and wellbeing?

And can the UK show us how it's done?

What does research say about Early Intervention?

In response to a subscriber's question, we find that the early bird gets results.

Better off without comp?

It's time to question whether some workers should be spared the compensation process.

Just how painful is injury reporting?

Knowing when injury reports should be made and how they should be dealt with can reduce the pain and strain of the process...

RTW Coordinators: be true to yourselves!

Figuring out whether you're a team player or a solo flier, a nurturer or a strategist can make your job a whole lot easier...

Health and productivity in smaller workplaces

You can't afford hit and miss. What works, what doesn't and how can you market tried and true solutions to your employees?

Recovery from spinal surgery

Spine surgeons who've had spinal surgery provide the know-how for this briefing paper on recovery and RTW.

The terrible two: UNDER-use and OVER-care

Ever wondered why some musculoskeletal injuries don't resolve as quickly as they should?

We are killing Joe

Understanding how 'the system' can trip up the people it is supposed to help is the first thread in a safety net.

Durable RTW - was life meant to be this hard?

Why are the numbers of people making return to work more difficult increasing?

Strategic planning - how can I and why should I?

Arranging resources helps to achieve long-term workplace objectives. Here's how to make injury management planning work.

Are Docs Asking the Right Questions?

To treat the patient we need to know the patient

Are we asking the right questions?

There's more than meets the eye when it comes to patients at risk of poor return to work results.

Compensation: More painful than surgery?

There is a correlation between compensation and poorer surgical outcomes. What can be done?

The Principles Underlying RTW - Draft 2

Is it 'compensation' or 'rehabilitation'?

The Principles underlying RTW

The principles underlying successful RTW are universal, but we think their application differs depending on the part you play.

Patient styles, distress, and what they get

How patients communicate has an important influence on the treatment they receive.

Getting real with advice for time off work

Let's put some evidence behind sick certificates

How do doctors assess a person's ability to work?

Medical assessments of work capacity are not always defined by what a worker is capable of. Should they be, or is it reasonable for doctors to take other factors into account?