ISCRR Director (Monash University)

It has been a year of the unexpected, opening with what we thought was a fresh start and then taking us through probably the most testing period in the pandemic. This has challenged the conduct and delivery of research in a number of ways — thinking creatively with the implementation of interventions, recruiting participants differently and working remotely.

It also shifted our priorities to support WorkSafe Victoria as they continued to take on a key role in the pandemic response, to ensure workplaces remained safe. Those acquiring COVID through their work received much needed support.

Despite the various challenges, we have had a productive year. We delivered 11 research projects focused on reviewing clinical evidence, farm safety culture, psychosocial health and safety and person-centred case management. A further 14 will continue into the new year. We’ve been busy sharing our results in different ways, including 50 presentations to stakeholders and at key conferences, one journal article published and we’ve supported the development of others through our academic network, five infographics and three research impact case studies developed.

WorkSafe launched their Research Insights Library this year, and ISCRR produced 32 insight summaries to add to their collection. We also developed and delivered tailored Program Logic workshops for WorkSafe staff this year to build their knowledge in the development and use of these for program development and evaluation. Specifically, these workshops help teams explicitly define the problem needing to be addressed, explore a theory of change to resolve the issue and build consensus among the group. The demand for these workshops grows, so we have more planned for the coming year.

The Thought Leadership series was launched this year in partnership with WorkSafe’s Research Division, designed to inform strategic thought and direction throughout WorkSafe. Two thought-provoking topics were discussed: ‘Behavioural insights from farm safety’, and ‘A paradigm shift in workplace mental health’ with leading experts.

Additionally, this December ISCRR launched our own Learning Series open to all stakeholders, with the inaugural webinar presented by Associate Professor Sharon Newnam from Monash University’s Accident Research Centre. Assoc. Prof. Newnam discussed systems-thinking and how it has been used to prevent workplace injuries.

The end of the year has seen two important milestones for our sector – the release of WorkSafe’s Strategy to 2024 and their Mental Health Strategy to 2024. This will guide much of our future work and we are pleased a broad direction is in place to ensure the health and safety of workers, and support those recovering from work-related injury and illness.

We’re extremely proud of the work we’ve achieved this year. The independent Academic Review of ISCRR by Monash found our expertise is highly valued, our project management methodology is particularly strong, our relationship with WorkSafe Victoria has been a successful and productive one, and that we practice what we preach — ISCRR really is a great place to work.

The review encouraged us to continue to publish academic research outputs where we can (in addition to our policy-related work), and thus we recently published a paper in the ANZ Journal of Surgery: “Lumbar spinal fusion surgery outcomes in a cohort of injured workers in the Victorian workers’ compensation system”.

This year we also received our highest ever partner satisfaction score — 95% of WorkSafe respondents said they were satisfied with the experience of using ISCRR research, and all six of our Key Performance Indicators were exceeded. This is an extremely pleasing result and a testament to the wonderful team I am lucky to work with.

We closed the year with a team session to inform development of ISCRR’s 5-year strategy, which will be presented to ISCRR’s Steering Committee in early 2022. It has been a positive and fruitful way to end a very productive year.

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday break, some time to disconnect and recharge for the year ahead.


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