Re-thinking Recovery global recognition and data analysis

We are thrilled to announce that IPAR’s Re-thinking Recovery service has been featured in a recently released international discussion paper titled “Making Pain Education Better: historical underpinnings & recent innovations” authored by globally respected experts Professor Lorimer Moseley (University of South Australia) and Professor Cormac Ryan (Teesside University, UK).

Available for download from the PETAL Collaboration website, this thought-provoking paper delves into the complexities of pain perception, its psychosocial impact, and proposes a holistic framework for comprehensive pain education.

The paper also discusses some very promising results from our Re-thinking Recovery service and we have summarised some key highlights below:

“Rethinking Recovery is not a pain management programme and does not aim to be one. The focus is on attaining specific learning objectives through both immersive embodied experiences and active learning strategies. Those learning objectives were identified by recovered consumers to be most helpful for their own recovery”

“…in this case the IPAR Re-thinking Recovery occupational rehabilitation VR-enhances pain education program – seems to offer important clinical benefits at a fraction of the cost of specialist pain services and with shorter delay between referral and episode of care”

“One might suggest that such new wave pain education should at least be seen as an important step in the pathway of returning people with disabling chronic pain to work”

“…programs such as IPARs Rethinking Recovery take a compelling body of evidence and build a new wave pain education intervention which, no doubt will be reviewed, refined, and updated, upon review of data”

“Early examples of VR-enhanced new wave education (such as IPAR’s Rethinking Recovery)… give good reason to be optimistic: pain severity, interference and pain-related self-efficacy outcomes – the most important mediators of wellbeing improvements – seem comparable to that being achieved by specialist pain services … at a fraction of the time and economic investment…”

If you would like to know more about how Re-thinking Recovery is improving recovery outcomes for those impacted by persistent pain please email or contact National Manager of Pain and Recovery Services Aaron Bowes.

Beyond Cancer Summary Paper

IPAR’s Beyond Cancer program was developed to address a gap in breast cancer survivorship care. Co-developed by IPAR and Curtin and Monash Universities, the rehabilitation program includes health coaching for cancer survivors, employer education and support, collaboration with treatment providers and return-to-work planning and monitoring.

A recent feasibility study published in Current Oncology demonstrated preliminary evidence for Beyond Cancer’s effectiveness and high levels of acceptability for supporting breast cancer survivors to return to work and wellness. The study was undertaken by a research team comprised of academics, industry experts, occupational rehabilitation, and voice of the consumer, and was funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

We’ve made a summary paper of the study available, so that it’s easier for people to understand the program aims, method, and importantly, the results that have been produced. The study’s findings include improvements in work capacity and return to work status, and a statistically significant improvement in 8 out of the 11 biopsychosocial (biological, psychological, and social) factors studied.

Some of the key areas of improvement included:

  • Physical fatigue improved by 23.5%
  • Pain improved by 24.2%
  • Expectations to work in the near future improved by 18.5%
  • Health beliefs improved by 17.8%

At IPAR, we’re proud to offer Beyond Cancer to breast cancer survivors as part of our commitment to helping people return to work and wellness. Download the summary paper or contact Georgina Lamb via for more information on this ground-breaking program.

20 year graphic

Celebrating 20 years of IPAR: 2003-2023

June 2023: We are proud to commence a celebration of 20 years of IPAR, recognising the difference our people and services have made in the lives of many over the past two decades. 20 years is a significant celebration for our business and represents the passion, commitment and hard work of hundreds of IPAR people, especially the team we have today.

In 2003, IPAR started in a small office with a big idea to improve outcomes within the occupational rehabilitation industry. IPAR quickly became one of the fastest growing companies in Australia, making it to the BRW Fastest Growing Companies list for three consecutive years.

Even with rapid growth, we never lost sight of our core purpose: to improve outcomes. We are proud to provide exceptional care to our clients, customers and people. This has always been at the heart of our culture and remains so today.

Over the next 12 months, we will be highlighting the work of our people and sharing the amazing stories that have come from our business: stories of inspiring IPAR careers, remarkable client outcomes, trusted customer partnerships and the amazing contributions IPAR has made to the industry. We will also be working ever closer with our charity partners, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Invictus Australia to continue to make a difference in our community.

To our customers, clients and people: thank you for being part of the IPAR journey and thank you for your support in making our business what it is today.

Study Finds IPAR Beyond Cancer Program Positively Supports Breast Cancer Survivors

A visual abstract of the IPAR Beyond Cancer program

March 2023

The findings of a feasibility study into IPAR’s Beyond Cancer Rehabilitation Program, which supports breast cancer survivors return to health, wellness and work, have been published in Current Oncology.

This is the culmination of years of work from our research and industry partners – Cancer Council NSW, Monash University, Curtin University, ACU, Swiss Re and AIA – along with our rehabilitation consultants and cancer survivor clients.

An evidence-based, multimodal rehabilitation program, Beyond Cancer was designed to support the growing number of women who are returning to work following breast cancer treatment. It aims to reduce the impact of symptoms, enhance wellness and help survivors to successfully resume working.

Specifically tailored to each person’s unique needs, the program includes:

  • An assessment to identify current life challenges
  • Education in symptom management
  • Health management training such as managing stress, increasing resilience and managing pain
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Return to work planning
  • Engagement with the workplace as required

The feasibility study, funded by a grant from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, focused on implementation, acceptability and preliminary indications of efficacy. Primary outcome measures included work status, work capacity and perceived support at work, with perspectives sought from the breast cancer survivor, employer and occupational rehabilitation provider.

Results showed the intervention was acceptable, demonstrated strong participant engagement and high satisfaction. It also showed preliminary evidence of improvements in work capacity and psychosocial factors, with the most significant improvements in work expectations, physical fatigue and pain management.

Thank you to everyone involved in this important work. We are very excited by the potential of this program to support breast cancer survivors, and people of working age with cancer more broadly.

As reported by one client who participated in the program:

“Honestly it has been a godsend. I would highly recommend this program to anyone going through cancer. If it wasn’t included in the insurance scheme, I wouldn’t have been looking at returning to work anywhere near as soon as what I have been now, even though I wanted to.”

Working Together to Support People Living With Pain

It was a pleasure to be in attendance with Professor Lorimer Moseley and Reality Health at the Self Insurers of South Australia Forum, held in Adelaide on February 10. Professor Moseley gave valuable insight into the current research surrounding pain treatment, and the areas where improvements can be made.

We also heard from Reality Health’s Ben Sheat, who took us through the Reality Health Program. Ben was supported by IPAR’s South Australian pain coaches, Alice Gerlach and Kirsti Haupt, who gave demonstrations and discussions on IPAR’s national Re-thinking Recovery service which utilises the Reality Health platform.

Thank you to Lawson Risk, the event sponsor. As always, it was a pleasure to come together with Professor Moseley and Reality Health to share our mutual passion for supporting individuals impacted by persistent pain.

Peta Siggers wins Excellence in Injury and Disability Management at PIEF Awards

Peta Siggers with award at PIEF

Congratulations to IPAR’s Veteran Experience Manager, Peta Siggers, who received the Excellence in Injury and Disability Management (Lived Experience) Award at the Personal Injury Education Foundation (PIEF) Awards held in Brisbane.

Peta followed her father and grandfather into the Army and served as a Medic for 15 years, deploying overseas and supporting our Defence personnel at home. During her time, she was drawn to roles that involved wellbeing, rehabilitation support and complex case management. Then, after experiencing her own injuries while in service, Peta transitioned from Defence to become a Rehabilitation Counsellor, so that she can continue to support the veteran community.

Today, in her national role at IPAR, Peta provides education and support to the many IPAR consultants who work with veteran clients and their families, using her lived experience in the military and rehabilitation counselling qualifications to ensure IPAR’s services remain veteran-centric and holistic. She also builds relationships with veteran and family supports in the wider community to facilitate engagement for veteran clients and their families.

IPAR and Invictus Australia partnership goes beyond sport

Joel Vanderzwan (Veteran and Invictus Games competitor), Peta Siggers (IPAR Veteran Experience Manager), Michael Hartung (CEO, Invictus Australia) and Jo Broomhall (IPAR Executive General Manager) at the official launch of the partnership

Current and former servicemen and women face untold challenges, from combat exposure to difficulties transitioning from military to civilian life. IPAR is proud to offer tailored services to support the health and wellbeing of Australia’s 580,000+ veterans and their families. However, with 6,000 veterans transitioning out of the Australian Defence Force every year, it is vital that we continue to develop our offering.

We are proud to announce our new partnership with Invictus Australia, which will provide more support to our veterans and their families.

Invictus Australia is operated by the organisers of the Invictus Games, the multi-sport spectacle that inspires recovery, rehabilitation and understanding of the wounded. Invictus Australia carries the legacy of the Games in local communities, making sure all veterans and their families can benefit from involvement with sporting communities.

We will be working closely with Invictus Australia to increase awareness, understanding and appreciation of the Australian veterans and families that they exist to serve. The partnership will see more sport and recreational opportunities, events and resources available for the Defence community.

Invictus Australia will bring their sporting expertise and connections to the partnership, to help facilitate local initiatives, through its extensive network of sporting partners. IPAR will provide support for local activations around the country, helping to facilitate and communicate sport and recreational opportunities to their audience of veterans.

Jo Broomhall, Executive General Manager of IPAR said:

“Our partnership with Invictus Australia is all about supporting veterans and their families in practical ways that truly make a difference, whether it’s through improved access to local sporting activity and the many physical and mental health benefits that flow from it, or by creating meaningful connections to the local Invictus community. We will leverage this partnership to help veterans find or reignite their passion for sport and integrate this into their unique rehabilitation and reintegration journey for themselves and their family.”

Michael Hartung, Chief Executive Officer of Invictus Australia said:

“We are delighted to partner with IPAR to share our expertise in the sporting arena, and together show real collaboration in action to deliver better outcomes for veterans and their families. We know the powerful role sport can play in the recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration of our veterans and their families, and look forward to working with the extensive IPAR network across Australia to deliver upon our shared passion and purpose to support all those who have, and continue to serve our country.”

View the media release here.

The art of science: Towards understanding Long COVID in the workplace

COVID Matters Edition 6

“This is science as we’re living it, and it’s quite unusual. People like myself are constantly looking at what is happening around the world, and if you look at medical journal databases, you can see there are over 250,000 articles out now in relation to COVID-19. It’s impossible to keep track of what is happening.”

Professor Adrian Esterman
Chair of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of South Australia (as quoted in on 5 April 2022)


When we first launched the COVID Matters newsletter in December 2020, we undertook to track research and studies on COVID-19 and its impact on long-term health, mental health, neurological conditions, fatigue-related issues, workplace risk and changes to the Australian labour market. Two years later, we are still doing just that.

Edition 6 of COVID Matters looks specifically at Long COVID studies, distilling them into bite-sized learnings to save you time.

Long COVID is where our experience supporting people through illness and injury to return to work can come into play as a practical support for your organisation and people.

We have teamed up with Monash University to develop a suite of evidence-based COVID support services. This includes a screening tool for when a person with COVID might be heading towards Long COVID – and to define when you should seek early intervention for them. Plus, a tailored health coaching program to support return to work for people who are impacted by a COVID diagnosis or Long COVID.

Please reach out to your local IPAR representative to learn more.

Long COVID: bracing for the wave

With persistently high numbers of new COVID infections across Australia, the Actuaries Institute of Australia has warned the disability insurance and healthcare sectors should be bracing for a wave of Long COVID and with it, rising claims costs and premiums.

Thus far, Australia’s Long COVID claims experience has been fairly minimal. In the first two years of the pandemic, border closures, lockdowns and other measures reduced spread of COVID-19. However, in 2022 Australia’s COVID-19 landscape has changed, with 90% of the total COVID infections occurring in just the past few months.

Notwithstanding the beneficial impact of vaccination on lowering rates of Long COVID, a paper released by the Actuaries Institute earlier this month, “How Covid-19 has affected Mortality and Morbidity in 2020 and 2021”, predicts that the number of Long COVID cases on the horizon will be significant, potentially up to hundreds of thousands.

Impact on disability insurance sector

Long COVID is a poorly understood condition with a complex and diverse set of symptoms affecting physical, psychological, and neurological body systems. There are no routine tests or imaging to confirm diagnosis, no clear durations, and no effective treatment.

The paper notes that what is known is that Long COVID symptoms, particularly fatigue, can limit activity and an individual’s ability to work. As a result, the Actuaries Institute anticipates increased Long COVID related insurance claims across workers compensation and disability insurance including group salary continuance and income protection.

They advise that workplaces will need tailored support to enable workers to return to or remain at work while experiencing Long COVID symptoms, and that better healthcare for long term illness is essential to manage this approaching challenge.

Our response

IPAR has teamed with Monash University to develop a series of COVID support services. This includes a Long COVID screening tool to help with early intervention, plus a tailored health coaching program to support RTW for people who are impacted by COVID diagnosis or Long COVID.

What more information? Please contact IPAR on 03 8648 0900  or email

Graphic of COVID Matters newsletter

COVID Matters Newsletter Edition 5

The latest edition of the COVID Matters newsletter brought to you by IPAR, mlcoa and MedHealth focuses on managing the return to work and extra support for people experiencing Long COVID.

We highlight three studies, with practical return to work implications. Two of these studies focus on vaccine effectiveness and the Novovax protein-based vaccine respectively… both potentially helpful in cases where workers are experiencing vaccine hesitancy for specific reasons. The other study is about the optimal way to manage Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) regimes for return to work. In terms of an evidence-base, it’s still early days for this important screening test; though the paper we covered has a strong recommendation for the most effective use of RATs.

We also summarise an additional worthwhile Harvard Business Review article on return to office resistance. While not a research paper per se, the authors have based their writings and recommendations on decades of research.

We hope this helps you as you navigate each ‘stage’ of this pandemic. Our next issue will look at workplace issues that arise as we move into winter, and COVID-19 moves from pandemic to endemic disease.