19 May 2020 posted by Recovery Partners

Recovery Partners is pleased to have been among the first rehabilitation providers to successfully connect workers and host employers through the SIRA (State Insurance Regulatory Authority) program, Connect2Work We’ve always been strong advocates of the early intervention approach that helps workers return safely to work as soon as is reasonably practicable following an injury. We’re also vocal proponents of the benefits of work, and signatory to the Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Work. So, Connect2Work is a perfect match for us.

What is Connect2Work?

Connect2Work is an innovative SIRA initiative. It was developed as a response to COVID-19 and the economic and business impacts the pandemic conditions have had on both workers and employers. Connect2Work facilitates a short-term voluntary work placement for an individual with a host employer. The individual may be either looking for work or recovering from an injury and unable to return to suitable employment with their pre-injury employer due to COVID-19. The host employer receives a training assistance payment of $200 per week and is not required to pay the worker for their time.

Why has Recovery Partners been successful utilising Connect2Work?

Recovery Partners already help workers access Work Trial or Host Employment opportunities through our online Job Portal. This job listing site, provides access to a large number of host employers willing to provide work placement or paid employment opportunities to injured workers. We’ve also developed a comprehensive network of contacts in a wide range of industries, so we were able to quickly match workers and hosts who were eligible for the Connect2Work program.

Our first match

Our first match involved *Mitch, a warehouse worker for a NSW fencing manufacturer. Prior to COVID-19, Mitch had been off work due to a lower back injury and was also experiencing some mental health challenges. When the pandemic began, Mitch’s treating doctor had just signed him off to return to suitable duties and begin his recovery at work. But, the fencing manufacturer was suddenly operating at a greatly decreased rate and were unable to provide Mitch with suitable work.

‘Mitch was actually really keen to return to work,’ says Christian White, Recovery Partners Rehabilitation Consultant. ‘He understood it would probably help rather than hinder his recovery, and he knew that he needed to keep busy for the sake of his mental health.’

From fencing to electronics

With the assistance of Recovery Partners Employment Consultant, Sanjeev Lal, Christian found an electronics manufacturing business listed on the Recovery Partners Job Portal who was happy to host Mitch through Connect2Work and could provide him with suitable warehouse duties. ‘Mitch and I went and met with the host employers and it went really well,’ says Christian. ‘The conversation quickly turned to how this could be a good upskilling opportunity for Mitch where he could learn some things that could help him find other work. The employer even said that if the six-week Connect2Work placement went well, they may be able to offer Mitch a paid job there in the event that he was unable to return to fencing work. Mitch was thrilled.’

From club to local restaurant

Another Connect2Work success story involves a recovering injured worker, *Amy, who was unable to return to her work at an RSL Club due to COVID-19 closure rules. Recovery Partners Rehabilitation Consultant, Natalie Mizzau, linked Amy to a smaller local restaurant who was still able to operate (with restrictions) and they agreed to welcome Amy into their establishment through the Connect2Work program. ‘This way, Amy can still work, help out a small local business and continue to build her hospitality experience while the RSL is closed, and return to work there when she’s completed her placement and RSLs have been permitted to open again.’

Helping hard hit hospitality and airline industries

“Airline and hospitality industries have been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19 and Recovery Partners are doing a lot in that space” says John Zaharis, GM of New Employer Services at Recovery Partners. ‘We’ve been working with hospitality staff, baggage handlers and transport workers who would ordinarily be employed at various hospitality venues or Sydney Airport to help find new opportunities for them with host employers during the pandemic,’ John says. ‘The Connect2Work program has helped us connect a lot of people and we’re pleased to be able to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on employers and employees in any way we can.’

Are you an employer or insurer?

If you’re an employer or insurer who’d like assistance to find  placement opportunities for injured workers who are ready to begin recovering at work or an employer who’d be happy to host workers through Connect2Work, get in touch with Recovery Partners by emailing John Zaharis on john@rrp.com.au or giving us a call on 1300 OHS RTW (647 789).

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals and organisations concerned.

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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/