Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 65–73 | Cite as

The Role of the Australian Workplace Return to Work Coordinator: Essential Qualities and Attributes

  • Joanna Bohatko-NaismithEmail author
  • Carole James
  • Maya Guest
  • Darren A. Rivett


Introduction In the Australian context, a return to work (RTW) Coordinator assists an injured worker with workplace-based support and regulatory guidance for the duration of their injury. Coordinating the RTW process has been considered an effective approach for managing workplace injuries, however few studies have described the skills, traits or characteristics required to fulfil the role of workplace RTW Coordinator. This study aims to provide insight as to the skills and attributes needed for the role of the workplace RTW Coordinator from their experience and perception. Method Focus groups were conducted with workplace RTW Coordinators from six major Australian cities. Twenty five participants were recruited through a national RTW Coordinator website, and professional RTW interest groups using a snowballing technique. Participating workplace RTW Coordinators were required to have a minimum 2 years’ experience and to have been involved with the development and implementation of workplace policies and procedures. Thematic analysis was performed to identify meaningful patterns and themes. Results The data analysed provided clear insight as to the specific role requirements necessary for working as an Australian workplace RTW Coordinator. Three key themes clearly emerged; communication skills, RTW Coordinator characteristics, and managing the RTW process. Conclusion The findings indicate that RTW Coordinators require a wide range of traits, skills, and attributes to successfully perform this role. Effective management by the RTW Coordinator of the complex RTW process is essential to facilitate a smooth transition for the injured worker, alongside maintaining a professional relationship with the employer and external stakeholders. The results of this study can be utilised to further improve the selection of future RTW Coordinators.


Workplace based return to work Return to work coordinators Disability managers Qualitative research 



The authors wish to thank the RTW Coordinators who participated in this study. We also thank the organisations for their support with recruiting RTW Coordinators.

Conflict of interest

Joanna Bohatko-Naismith, Carole James, Maya Guest and Darren A. Rivett declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanna Bohatko-Naismith
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carole James
    • 1
  • Maya Guest
    • 1
  • Darren A. Rivett
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Health and Medicine, School of Health SciencesThe University of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia

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