National return to work survey data

Australia’s only return to work national survey is for people who get workers’ compensation for a work‑related illness or injury.

The statistics in this dataset are compiled from the National Return to Work Survey, a biennial survey that has been conducted since 2012. The National Return to Work Survey measures the outcomes of ill and injured workers who are currently receiving or have previously received workers compensation, to better understand their experiences and the factors that influenced their return to work.

Other metadata

Field Input
Survey years 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2021
Data last updated 2021
Survey frequency Every 2 years
Target population

Ill or injured workers receiving workers' compensation who:

  • had at least one day away from work, AND
  • their claim was either open or closed, AND
  • worked in either Premium paying or Self-Insured organisations.
Excluded population

Ill or injured workers with the following characteristics were not contacted as part of the survey:

  • injured workers who are deceased
  • injured workers who are involved in active legal proceedings (including appeals)
  • injured workers identified as being likely to be adversely affected by participating in the survey
  • claims for compensation for fatalities and/or where a date of death is recorded
  • injured workers under the age of 18 at the time of sample extraction
  • injured workers classified as 'risk clients' (e.g. 'violent' or similar indicator) for whom an interview is deemed inappropriate by the jurisdiction
  • injured workers who 'opt-out' of research from their respective jurisdiction
  • injured workers who are residing outside of Australia (in the case of Australian jurisdictions), and
  • claims that have been rejected.
Publicly available data? Partial - see 'Resources' for available data, otherwise request data.
Author Safe Work Australia


To ensure results calculated from the dataset represent the target population as closely as possible, a weight was calculated for each survey respondent. All data presented from the National Return to Work Survey use weighted data, unless otherwise noted.

When using the interactive data dashboard for the National Return to Work Survey data, please note that subsetting and filtering the data will increase the associated relative standard errors of the estimates displayed. Caution should be used when interpreting the results presented.