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9.1.1 Travel and/or accommodation costs reasonably incurred to attend a rehabilitation assessment or medical examination arranged by the MRCC
Following acceptance of liability, a person's capacity or suitability for rehabilitation may be assessed in accordance with Chapter 3 of the MRCA. This assessment may result in the person being required to travel and/or stay in accommodation in order to attend that assessment. In these instances compensation can be paid for costs reasonably incurred, under MRCA section 47.
Reasonable requirement for travel/accommodation
In determining whether travel/accommodation costs are reasonably required to undertake a rehabilitation assessment, the delegate should consider issues such as:
- the distance that the person needs to travel to visit the assessor,
- whether the client needs to travel a significant distance, and therefore whether an overnight stay is reasonable;
- when the appointment is late in the day (eg after 4pm), whether the distance travelled to attend would preclude a safe journey home after the appointment is over;
- the client’s accepted conditions and whether an overnight stay is reasonable because of the nature of the assessment and the need for the person to "tell their story" or whether person's condition is likely prevent them from travelling back safely and comfortably on the same day of the appointment.
These considerations are not exhaustive and any other issues may be taken into account by the delegate when determining whether travel and accommodation costs are reasonably required. Each case must be considered on its merits utilising a client-centric approach.
Calculating reimbursement for travel/accommodation
Section 48 of the MRCA quantifies the amount to be paid to a person who has travelled and/or remained at that place in accommodation as "the amount reasonably incurred in making the journey or remaining at the place". In order for the amount to be determined as reasonable, the delegate may consider:
- the means of transport available to the person;
- the likely length of the journey; and
- the range of accommodation available to the person at the location travelled to.
Section 9.1.2 of the MRCA Policy Manual may be utilised as a benchmark of reasonable costs when considering reimbursement for attending a rehabilitation assessment. It is important to note that there is no mandated kilometre rate for travel associated with attending a rehabilitation assessment. As a general principle, it may be considered reasonable for clients to be expected to self-fund any travel that is less than a 50 km round trip. However, a client-focused approach must always be utilised, and consideration given to each client's individual circumstances. DVA delegates must be aware of preventing any potential barriers to the person undertaking a rehabilitation assessment, or participating in any subsequent rehabilitation activities.
Paying travel/accommodation costs for attending a rehabilitation assessment
Section 49(1) of the MRCA  provides that compensation for reasonable costs of travel and accomodation can be paid to the claimant or, if the person requests it, to the person who provided the journey and accomodation costs to the person who has incurred the costs.
Similarly, after a claim under MRCA section 319 is made, the Commission may require the person to undergo a medical examination in order to obtain medical opinion prior to making a determination. If the person is required to travel or stay in accommodation in order for the medical examination to be undertaken, the Commission is liable to pay compensation for costs reasonably incurred, under section 328 of the MRCA.
The same considerations of the journey's “reasonable” nature must be made, as for a rehabilitation assessment, in order for the person's expenses to be reimbursed. At all times a delegate must weigh up the evidence provided by the person as to the nature of the travel and/or accommodation required for the purpose of attending the medical examination.