Got your head around where ORPs fit in to the Return to Work landscape?

Yes? Nice work! Not so much? No worries, this month we thought we’d fill you in.


In the rehab training and outreach that we do with other allied health providers around the country, we’re always really surprised to find that not everyone knows about Occupational Rehab Providers (ORPs) and the role that they play in occupational rehabilitation.


So, what is an ORP? In the compensation system, their main role is to work together with the injured worker and their health care provider to facilitate successful and safe return to work – either with their original employer (where the workplace incident occurred) or with a new employer, where appropriate.

In the case of the injured worker returning to their original workplace, the ORP would typically undertake the following steps:

  • Visiting the workplace to review the patient’s normal duties,
  • Liaising with the treating health practitioner(s) to help identify and get support for suitable duties, and
  • Assisting the injured worker and their employer to plan and set goals that support a safe return to work.


When the injured worker is seeking employment in a new workplace, the independent ORP would be responsible for:

  • Reviewing the worker’s skills, qualifications and experience to help them find a new job or vocational pathway
  • Liaising with the treating health practitioner(s) to get their support for the identified jobs
  • Assisting to find suitable jobs, drawing on resources like the WorkSafe Incentive Scheme for Employers
  • Carrying out a workplace assessment at the new workplace to ensure that the worker can safely perform the new job requirements.


For those working outside of the compensation system, there are community-based organisations that perform a similar role. See for example, the employment supports provided by the National Disability Scheme:


It really can’t be overstated how important it is to introduce a comprehensive return to work plan (RTW) as early as possible into the recovery process. In fact, we devoted an entire blog post to it last year! (read here).


The key to achieving positive, long-term RTW outcomes really comes down to

  • Timing and readiness,
  • Identifying clear goals and allowing the injured worker to move towards those goals at a manageable pace,
  • Regular monitoring and assessment along the way,
  • A team effort – between the worker, the health practitioner, the ORP and the employer.


For more information on Occupational Rehabilitation Providers and their role in helping to rehabilitate your clients, check out this link to the Victorian WorkCover Authority website or the equivalent in your state:


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