Meet our Researchers - Finding the Answers that help ISCRR make a difference

Mr Ollie Black is currently completing his PhD with the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at Monash University.

Before moving to Melbourne about four years ago, Ollie lived in New Zealand and the U.S.A, prior to that. Ollie is currently enrolled full-time as a PhD candidate as part of an ARC-Linkage grant focused on better understanding the return to work process in Victoria. Ollie's PhD is focused on return-to-work self-efficacy (a belief a person has that they have the resources and can undertake the actions required to successfully return to work).  His work will focus on the role of return-to-work self-efficacy in return to work, and if this relationship differs for people with musculoskeletal and psychological injuries.

Ollie Black is a Phd candidate is one of over 60 researchers who make up the ISCRR research network. Many who form part of ISCRR's network of researchers, like Ollie, help ISCRR find the answers which help make a difference in returning Victorians to work after injury.

Where do you work?

In addition to his PhD, Ollie is a part-time research assistant with Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health (MonCOEH) where he conducts statistical analyses which focus on different consequences of work injury in Victoria using the Compensation Research Database.

Where were you prior to starting at MonCOEH?

Prior to starting at MonCOEH, I was in the Occupational Rehabilitation industry assisting claimants return to work with a new employer following a workplace injury; my role was primarily with claimants who had suffered a psychological injury. It was this role that served as the catalyst for me to enter research as there seemed to be specific challenges in return to work in this group that were not well understood.

How long have you been a researcher with ISCRR?

I will have been at MonCOEH for 3 years in July.

What area of research are you working in and what attracted you to this type of research?

My PhD topic investigates differences in the return-to-work process between musculoskeletal and psychological work-related injuries. While working in the rehabilitation industry I saw the effect of work on health first-hand, and this really crystallised all the theory that I had learned in university. I like the fact that in the area of return to work there's a lot of scope for this kind of research to be applied to policy and practice.

What do you like best about your role?

I like that the opportunity to think about unique problems is a big part of my job. As frustrating as it is sometimes, I always prefer that latitude.

What was the most fulfilling piece of research you completed?

Our research group at MonCOEH completed a study that focused on differences in the predictors of work absence for musculoskeletal and psychological injuries. It was my first research project, and the first time I had used administrative compensation data, so it was a steep learning curve.  However, when the paper was published it gave me a chance to reflect on how much I had learned and also how this work fitted within the bigger questions about whether different approaches to return to work were needed, depending on the injury type.

How is your research benefiting/providing impact WorkSafe and the TAC?

While I think knowledge about psychological claims is increasing, I would like to be able contribute to the field and investigate the areas to target for intervention, or to identify people who may be at risk of injury, or who require longer time off work after an injury has occurred.  Reducing the number of injuries that occur, and improving the return to work process for people who are injured not only helps the WorkSafe scheme, but also has important consequences for Victorian workers.

What is the best piece of advice you've been given, and what would you give?

Received- Be kind by default.
Would give- Always question your assumptions.

Describe yourself in three words.

Curious, persistent, pragmatic.