Toolkit D: Return to Work

Return to Work Toolkit

This toolkit is designed to help people with TBI's, their families, support workers, rehabilitation specialists and employers to work together to support people with the TBI to return to work.

Vocational Intervention Program.

The Toolkit is based on materials that are being piloted as part of the Vocational Intervention Program (VIP).

Learnings from the VIP and further tools will be added to this Toolkit as the pilot proceeds during 2015 and 2016.

During the pilot period the Vocational Intervention Program details including tools, forms etc can be accessed with a password by those working in the pilot.

Vocational Participation Project research.

The Vocational Intervention Project flowed out of the Vocational Participation Project research.




Return to Work after TBI

This Toolkit is about return to work after TBI.

Steve talks about his experience of TBI, rehabilitation and return to work.

Click on the image to go to the video player. The video may take a few moments to load.


This tool kit assumes a prior knowledge of TBI.

If you are unfamiliar with TBI it is recommended you complete Module 1: Introduction to TBI before using this Toolkit.



The Vocational Intervention Program

Return to work after TBI

Return to work (RTW) is a key measure of community reintegration following traumatic brain injury (TBI) and forms a central rehabilitation goal for people with TBI. Although an array of service systems exist in Australia to assist people with injury or disability to participate in employment, people with TBI and the clinicians working with them encounter a range of barriers in accessing appropriate opportunities to achieve RTW. There has been a growing concern within the NSW Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program (BIRP) about the poor outcomes being achieved.

Vocational Participation Project (VPP Project)

To address this problem, the Vocational Participation Project (VPP Project) undertook an extensive state-wide analysis of employment and vocational participation across the BIRPs.
The VPP Project is the largest Australian study and one of the largest international studies to address this issue. Data was collected on all 900 active community-dwelling clients of the BIRPs, of whom 721 sustained TBI as an adult and form the primary focus of this report. Separate to this, data was also collected on the challenge of transition from school to employment for people who sustained TBI as a child.

The VIP Project recommended piloting a variety of service models.

The Full Report

Downloadable PDF versions of this report are available from the following websites :

The Vocational Intervention Program

The VIP is a model of service integration that involves a collaboration between NSW health and vocational rehabilitation providers with support by the NSW government agencies of Insurance Care (icare) and the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA).

Service integration

The model of service integration aims to achieve efficient co-ordination of rehabilitation services so that clients have access to the required expertise at the appropriate time in their recovery and rehabilitation following trauma.  Successful service integration requires effective communication, co-operation and the right mix of skills/expertise to support vocational goals and avoid unnecessary duplication of services. This model of service integration will allow health and vocational rehabilitation goals to be addressed concurrently, not sequentially. Working together means that learning and support occurs in the workplace and results in improved vocational outcomes.

This service integration model has been successfully implemented in other health/vocational rehabilitation partnerships in NSW, including mental health and spinal cord injury services.
Service integration’ is not the same as: ‘multidisciplinary team’ (drawing together of multiple disciplines within the one organisation) or ‘continuity of care’ (client journey of transitioning across health settings). 

The VIP will operate primarily within
the community Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program (BIRP) setting

That is, the VIP is not an inpatient-based rehabilitation intervention. The metropolitan BIRPs operating inpatient rehabilitation facilities may identify a client suited for the VIP (particularly Fast Track pathway) but formal assessment and work placement will await the client’s discharge from hospital and re-settlement into the community. However, it will often be appropriate for the VR Provider to meet the client in the inpatient ward and have some early liaison with the treatment providers and his/her employer to prepare for RTW commencement at the appropriate stage.


Under this VIP model of service integration the roles are:

The Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program

The BIRP is the primary referral source and will contribute clinical expertise in brain injury, assessing the impact on the individual, and their capacity to return to paid work and participate in meaningful activity in the community.

Contracted VR service provider

The contracted VR service providers will not be located at the BIRP sites however they will attend the BIRPs for case conferences and relevant client appointments. Planning and return to work meetings may take place at their own local offices, in the community or at the workplace, as appropriate. The appointed VR service providers will have experience in delivering employment services, industry knowledge of RTW processes, local employer contacts and access to employer incentives for people with disabilities


John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research(JWCRR) will complete an evaluation of the efficacy of the Fast Track and New Track intervention trials. ACI will also conduct a component of the evaluation to assess the impact of the VIP on the population serviced by the state-wide BIRP’s. The research strategy will be co-ordinated between the two research groups and deliver half-way and final evaluation reports.

ACI: training, support and monitoring

ACI will deliver training, educational materials and service protocols to assist in the implementation, monitoring and support of the two trial interventions at each BIRP trial location

icare , SIRA and ACI: Governance

icare , SIRA and ACI will provide overarching governance of the VIP, including the Fast Track and New Track interventions, to support the efficiency and effectiveness of the planning, implementation and evaluation of the two trial interventions.

More information

For more information about the VIP contact:
Jade Howe
P: 8738 9269