Health Benefits of Good Work

The Health Benefits of Good Work (HBGW) is an initiative from the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP). This initiative is based on compelling Australasian and international evidence that good work is beneficial to people’s health and wellbeing and that long term work absence, work disability and unemployment generally have a negative impact on health and wellbeing.

AFOEM has produced a number of policy documents which outline this evidence and the HBGW philosophy more broadly:

More HBGW Resources

The RACP and AFOEM are committed to advancing the HBGW philosophy across the health and industry sectors. To this end, AFOEM is establishing a number of committees to progress this initiative across stakeholder groups:

The HBGW Stakeholder Executive Group

AFOEM established the HBGW Stakeholder Executive Group in September 2014 to determine the strategic direction for the implementation of the Health Benefits of Good Work into the industry and health sectors to advance AFOEM’s policy in this area.

The HBGW Stakeholder Executive Group recommended the establishment of three steering groups to develop and implement coordinated initiatives into both industry and health sectors: the HBGW Signatory Steering Groups (in Australia and in New Zealand) and the HBGW Health Steering Group.

The HBGW Australian Signatory Steering Group

In January 2015, a Signatory Steering Group (HBGW Australian SSG) was established in Australia. The Australian SSG comprises 15 members from a range of stakeholders including statutory authorities, healthcare organisations, re/insurers and national employers. Members were selected following a competitive Expression of Interest process open to all Australian signatories to the Consensus Statement.

The purpose of the HBGW Australian SSG is to further champion the integration of the HBGW policy agenda in the industry sector. It has developed into a forum to share information and collaborate on initiatives that will enable organisations to implement HBOW programs as well as champion improvements throughout industry.

All member organisations have agreed to contribute to:

  • implementing strategies developed by the HBGW Stakeholder Executive Group
  • progressing the integration of the health benefits of good work policy agenda as set out in the Consensus and Position Statements across stakeholder groups with a focus on industry sectors and government authorities
  • facilitating growth of the Consensus Statement signatory base
  • contributing to the HBGW evidence base
  • supporting advocacy for continuous improvement in public policy around work and health through ongoing structured and formalised dialogue
  • identifying exemplar organisations, sharing information and collaborating on initiatives that enable organisations to implement HBGW programs
  • championing policy improvements within industry
  • working collectively and in partnership to safeguard the integrity of the HBGW initiative

The HBGW New Zealand Signatory Steering Group

AFOEM is currently establishing the HBGW New Zealand Signatory Steering Group (NZ SSG).

The establishment of the NZ SSG presents a unique opportunity for trans-Tasman collaboration to spread the Health Benefits of Good Work message across both countries.

The HBGW Health Steering Group

The establishment of the HBGW Health Steering Group (HSG) is under way. Its mission is for all healthcare professionals to implement the health benefits of good work into their practice. To this end, a number of medical and allied health organisations have been invited to become members of this group. This group will develop initiatives that are likely to result in both attitudinal and effective behaviour change in health professionals with respect to HBGW.

Consensus Statements, HBGW Charter of Principles and Signatories

Health Benefits of Work Australian and New Zealand consensus statements

The purpose of the Health Benefits of Work consensus statements is to bring together a wide range of stakeholder signatories, who each affirm the importance of work as a determinant of health and commit to:

  • promoting awareness of the health benefits of good work
  • offering support and encouragement to those attempting to access the health benefits of good work
  • encouraging employers' continuing support of workers' occupational health
  • advocating for continuous improvement in public policy around work and health, in line with the principles articulated in the consensus statement.

Charter of HBGW Principles

AFOEM has also developed the Health Benefits of Good Work Charter of Principles (2015) (PDF 91KB) which draws out the key principles from the HBGW philosophy. This Charter is intended for all Signatories to display in their own facilities to reaffirm their commitment to the principles outlined in the Consensus Statement and companion position statements and the importance good work can play in contributing to people’s health and wellbeing.

How do I become a HBGW signatory organisation?

What can my organisation do to spread the HBGW message?

The Faculty continues to grow the Health Benefits of Good Work signatory list and welcomes your support. Please distribute and promote the Consensus Statements widely and add them to your own website to spread the word!

Current HBGW signatories across Australian and New Zealand

AUSTRALIAN SIGNATORIES NEW ZEALAND SIGNATORIES
ACT Government, Minister for Industrial Relations
Advanced Personnel Management
Adult Medicine Division of the RACP
AIA Australia
Allianz
Allied Health Professionals Australia
Altius Group
AMA South Australia
AMP
AMS Consulting
Artius Group
Association of Self Insured Employers of Queensland
Atlantis Healthcare 
Australasian College of Sports Physicians
Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine
Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine
Australasian Society of Aerospace 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 Medico Legal Group
Australian Osteopathic Association
Australian Physiotherapy Association
Australian Psychological Society
Australian Rehabilitation Providers Association
Australian Society of Rehabilitation Counsellors
AW Workwise
Banyan Work Health Solutions
Benchmark OT Pty Ltd
Bodycare Workplace Solutions
Brisbane ACT Centre
BRS Consulting
Business Council of Australia
Career Industry Council of Australia
CGU
Chiropractic & Osteopathic College of Australia, The
Chiropractors' Association of Australia
Coal Services Pty Limited
Coastal Rehab
Cogent
Comcare
Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges
Company Medical Services Pty Ltd
Compass Group
Compensation Assistance Services
ConceptRehab
Cortex Solutions Pty Ltd
Direct Health Solutions
Employers Mutual Limited
Ergosmart Consulting
Evolution Workplace Solutions
Exercise & Sports Science Australia
EXPHYS
Financial Services Council
Fire & Rescue NSW
Focus on Recovery - FORE
Ford Health
Gallagher Bassett Services Pty Ltd
General Reinsurance Life Australia Ltd
Hallwood Consulting Services
Health and Productivity Institute of Australia
Health​Link
Hunter Industrial Medicine
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia (HFESA)
icare
IMO (Independent Medical Opinion) Pty Ltd
IMR (Injury Management and Rehabilitation)
IMS Organisational Consulting   
Injury and Mediation Interventions
InjuryNet
Injury Treatment Pty Ltd
IOH Injury and Occupational Health
IPAR Rehabilitation
Jobfit Health Group
JTA Health, Safety & Noise Specialists
Keystone Professionals
Konekt Australia Pty Ltd
KPMG Australia
Medibank Health Solutions
MetLife
MindSense Occupational Psychiatry
MLC
Momentum Rehabilitation Pty Ltd
Motor Accidents Insurance Board
MTC Australia
Munich Re
Nabenet
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
National Council of Self Insurers Inc
North Queensland Therapy Services
NT Worksafe
Occupational Consultants
PeopleSense
Personnel Placement Consultancies
PHW Group
Police Association of NSW
Police Federation of Australia
Public Health Association of Australia
Procare Group
Purple Co
PsyFlex Pty Ltd
QBE
Q-COMP
Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General
Recovre
Recovery Partners
Resilia Pty Ltd
RehabCo
Rehab Management
Rehabilitation Injury Management (RIM) Aust. P/L
Rehabilitation Services Pty Limited
RGA Reinsurance Group of Australia Limited
Rice Warner
Royal Australasian College of Physicians
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
Safety Institute of Australia
SafeWork Australia
Self Insurers of South Australia Inc
SICorp (NSW Self Insurance Corporation)
SIS Rehab
Sonic HealthPlus
StepJump
Star Injury Management Service
StateCover Mutual 
Strive Occupational Rehabilitation
SuperFriend
Sustain Consulting
Swiss Re
TAL Life Ltd
Tanaciti
The CIM Group
The Health Advantage
The Interact Group
The Suncorp Group
Thrive Re Consulting
Transport Accident Commission
Unified Healthcare Group Pty Ltd (UHG)
Viva! Health at Work
WCD - Workers' Compensation Solutions Pty Ltd
Wise Therapy
WorkAble Solutions
WorkCover Queensland
WorkCover South Australia
WorkCover Tasmania
WorkCover WA
Workforce Group
Working Life - Organisational Consultants
WorkSafe Victoria
WorkSafe WA
Work Health Safety Matters Pty Ltd
Work Health Systems
Xchanging
Zeal Health Pty Ltd
Zone Workplace Health
Accident Compensation Corporation
AMP
Association for Supported Employment in New Zealand
Australian and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine
Blueprint, The Wise Group
Business Leaders' Health & Safety Forum
Business New Zealand
College of Nurses Aotearoa (NZ)
Council of Medical Colleges in New Zealand
Employers and Manufacturers Association
Employers' Disability Network
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (New Zealand)
FairWay Resolution Limited
Financial Services Council of NZ
Fit For Work Ltd
Fonterra
Framework
General Reinsurance Life Australia Ltd - (New Zealand)
Health​Link
Human Resources Institute of New Zealand
Institution of Professional Engineers NZ
Investment, Savings and Insurance Association
Life and Disability Underwriters Association Auckland
Life and Disability Underwriters Association Wellington
Maori Health Development Organisation - Tui Ora
Maori Medical Practitioners Association - Te ORA
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Social Development
New Zealand Association of Accredited Employers
New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine
New Zealand Council of Trade Unions
New Zealand Disability Support Network
New Zealand Institute of Safety Management
New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA)
New Zealand Nurses Organisation
New Zealand Occupational Health Nurses Association
New Zealand Orthopaedic Association
New Zealand Physiotherapy Society
New Zealand Public Service Association
New Zealand Rehabilitation Association
New Zealand Rheumatology Association
New Zealand Private Physiotherapists Association
NZ Dairy Workers Union Te Runanga Wai U
NZ Rural General Practice Network
Occupational Therapy New Zealand
Pathways, The Wise Group
Royal Australasian College of Physicians
Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 
Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners
Social Enterprise Ltd, The Wise Group
Sovereign
Tenix
Te Pou, The Wise Group
The College of Urgent Care Physicians (CUCP)
The Suncorp Group

The role of General Practitioners

Whilst Occupational and Environmental Physicians (OEPs) provide specialist knowledge to ensure a healthy, productive workforce and connect a workplace with the diverse range of health services necessary to optimise the health and wellbeing of employees, most often, the care of injured or ill workers is managed day-to-day by General Practitioners (GPs) who play a key role in assisting them return to work. As such, GPs are well placed to advise and educate workers that, in most cases, a focus on return to work is in their best interest - for both their future quality of life and that of their family.

Return to work is not possible for everyone, but certifying time off work - particularly when absence is long term - can have significant side effects, including increased rates of overall mortality, poorer physical health and poorer mental health and psychological well being.
Simple messages delivered in the clinical environment can encourage workers to develop evidence-based views of the relationship between health and work. Evidence-based messages include:

  • Good work is an important part of rehabilitation (opens a PDF)
  • The longer someone is off work, the less chance they have of ever returning
  • Most common health conditions will not be ‘cured' by treatment
  • Good work is a therapeutic intervention, it is part of treatment
  • Typically, waiting for recovery delays recovery
  • Staying away from work may lead to depression, isolation and poorer health, and
  • Employer-supported, early return to work helps recovery, prevents deconditioning and helps provide patients with appropriate social contacts and support mechanisms.
  • Practical ways of assisting patients back to employment and optimum functioning include:
  • Recommending a graduated increase in activity and setting a timeline for return to work where practicable
  • Talking to the employer (preferably while the patient is with you), especially about how to modify the workplace and work duties to allow return to work
  • Collaboratively identifying obstacles and solutions in the workplace
  • Being clear about what health care can and can not achieve, and
  • Identifying possible sources of support, including family members, co-workers and relevant government services.

Where can I find out more?

For further information about the Health Benefits of Good Work initiative, you can:

  • Contact the Faculty Office AFOEM@racp.edu.au or +61 (02) 8076 6351.
  • Read Stakeholder updates from 2011 to 2013

For further information about the RACP’s policy and advocacy priorities, please visit the Policy & Advocacy Policy Priorities Page

Read published RACP policies, position statements and submissions on the Policy and Advocacy Library or the Policy Submissions page.

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