The Collaborative Partnership to improve work participation

The Collaborative Partnership to Improve Work Participation (the Collaborative Partnership) is a unique public-private sector alliance to drive fresh approaches to improving work participation for Australians with a temporary or permanent health condition or disability that impacts their ability to work. The Collaborative Partnership is responding to stagnating work participation rates in Australia following a work-related injury or illness and employment rates among people with disabilities.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

There is compelling international and Australasian evidence that work is generally good for health and wellbeing. While Australia has a record number of people in jobs, ill health and disability is preventing many Australians from reaping the benefits of work.

Australia currently ranks 21 out of 29 for employment rates among people with disabilities relative to the population amongst the OECD. Additionally, rates for return to work after work-related injury or illness have been static in this country for decades. Australia’s work disability systems are fragmented and operate in siloes – workers’ compensation, motor accident compensation, life insurance, veterans’ compensation, disability support and superannuation. Each of them separately and variously seeking to engage with common stakeholders: workers; families; employers; and healthcare providers.

The Federal Government recognised the need to drive improvement in – and minimise pressure on – the sectors that support people who have difficulty returning to or remaining at work. Gains in work participation are expected to lead to better health and wellbeing outcomes and productivity.

The Collaborative Partnership brings together public and private sectors to address this public health and social policy issue. The approach is underpinned by the Stanford Model of Collective Impact – a framework to tackle deeply entrenched and complex social problems. The innovative Partnership is focussed on breaking down the siloes the systems operate in and improving service delivery; helping employees understand the importance of work to their health and wellbeing; helping business to dismantle employment barriers; and giving General Practitioners (GPs) the tools they need to prescribe work as an integral part of recovery.

The Collaborative Partnership aims to achieve its objectives through a targeted program of work and key priorities which were identified through stakeholder consultations.
The major project streams include:
- Cross-Sector Systems: this project seeks to understand how the ten major income support systems in Australia operate, connect and interact with each other with an overall aim of driving system improvement and service alignment. This project has delivered new research that establishes an evidence base for the scale of the issue in Australia and the first conceptual map of Australia’s income support systems identifying the volume of people moving though the systems.
- Employer Mobilisation: aims to examine employer attitudes and barriers towards recruiting, supporting or maintaining individuals with a health condition in employment, with an overall aim of improving employers’ capacity to provide work opportunities. This project has delivered research revealing fresh insights into employer perspectives and drivers to providing or supporting employment of people with health conditions and disabilities.
- GP Support: aims to produce the first set of principles that provide clarity on the role of the GP in supporting work engagement, recovery at and return to work. This project recognises the critical role GPs play in promoting the health benefits of good work and acknowledges that there is no consistent understanding of the role of the GP. This project has sought to identify and incorporate the GP role relative to other stakeholders in the process.
- Employee Awareness: seeks to understand the perspectives of individuals with a health condition or disability that impacts their ability to work, towards navigating the various systems of income support and employment. The overall aim of the project is to empower individuals to use work as part of their recovery.

The major projects will use existing or establish new evidence to trial, test and learn from interventions in a real-world setting. The trials will be designed to be relevant across all systems of income support and scalable to multiple settings. The Collaborative Partnership will seek to use learnings from the trials to make recommendations and consider opportunities for their respective systems.

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Year: 2017
Level of government: National/Federal government


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