State-based advocacy and compensable bodies

Physiotherapists are one of the highest provided of services to people with injuries that are preventing them from returning to work. (Berecki-Gisolf et al., 2013) Physiotherapists are experts in assessing capacity and treatment is goal focused and intended on improving measurable outcomes.( Pizzari - 2013) There is a growing evidence base on the impacts that physiotherapists have on improving returning to work in a safe and timely fashion and also impacting health outcomes for their patients.(Gosling et al., 2015) This places physiotherapists in a key position to play a leading role in the return to work process.

There are 11 main workers’ compensation systems in Australia. Each of the eight Australian states and territories has developed its own workers’ compensation scheme and there are three Commonwealth schemes. Given the important role that physiotherapists play and highly skilled services physiotherapists provide in the community, it is important people with disability have access to treatment when and how they need it. The APA is working with the State Branch representatives to help strengthen their knowledge and understanding of the role and the impact physiotherapists can have.

To ensure that Physiotherapists can continue to drive returning to work and function for their patients, the APA is:

  • advocating on behalf of physiotherapists to improve timely access to evidence based treatment
  • supporting Physiotherapists to work within Compensable schemes to assist their patients with return to work
  • providing resources for Physiotherapists on the importance of treatment being in line with the clinical framework. Specifically there will be three main areas of focus: - risk stratification, outcome measurement and communication.

There are four goals for risk stratification:

  • to predict risk of possible slower recovery of patients
  • to prioritise interventions
  • inform the authorising environment (eg, by aligning the approval of resources with predicted need), and
  • to prevent negative outcomes (eg, disability and death—as well as unnecessary costs).

The use of outcome measures is a central pillar of the Clinical Framework and helps with goal setting and treatment and functional planning.

Communication will also be a focus in the schemes where there is an ability to physiotherapists to be reimbursed for time spent in non-face to face communication to assist their patients.


The promotion of physiotherapy services will aim to create a contemporary, shared approach to maximizing the positive impact of physiotherapy on worker safety, health and wellbeing.

Useful links and references:

The clinical framework

Links to the various state organisations:

ISCRR is a collaboration between Monash University, TAC and WorkSafe. There is a number of great articles on returning to work and the evidence base.

Comcare has a good link to their updated evidence.

RTW Matters also has some practical links regards for professionals.

Training links

There is a range of really useful training resources which are all free of charge:


Berecki-Gisolf, J., Collie, A., McClure, R.J., 2013. Determinants of Physical Therapy Use by Compensated Workers with Musculoskeletal Disorders. J Occup Rehabil 23, 63–73.

Gosling, C., Keating, J., Iles, R., Morgan, P., Hopmans, R., 2015. Strategies to enable physiotherapists to promote timely return to work following injury. Melbourne: Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Reasearch (ISCRR) and Monash University.

Health Outcomes can be Improved by Implementing an Occupational Physiotherapy Provider Programme - Pizzari - 2013 - Physiotherapy Research International - Wiley Online Library [WWW Document], n.d. URL (accessed 8.26.19).