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9.1.4 Travel costs associated with a rehabilitation program
Unlike travel to undertake a rehabilitation assessment (see section 9.1.1 of this manual), the MRCA does not have specific legislative provisions to reimburse the travel costs associated with a person's participation in a rehabilitation program.
However, a Rehabilitation Coordinator, in consultation with the Rehabilitation Provider, has the discretion to determine whether or not a person's participation in a rehabilitation program will cause that person to incur costs additional to normal work-related travel costs, and to ensure that these costs are included in the rehabilitation plan. An example would be where a client is undertaking an approved training course as part of a vocational rehabilitation program, and needs to travel interstate in order to take part in the course. Please note, travel costs associated with a rehabilitation program can only be paid where client travel is included as a third party cost on a rehabilitation plan.
In deciding whether a person should be reimbursed for travel costs, the DVA Rehabilitation Coordinator must consider the following;
- costs for travel associated with attending regular appointments with a rehabilitation provider or participating in rehabilitation activities are not reimbursable, except in exceptional circumstances;
- costs for usual travel to and from a workplace, or to and from a training institution or university where the person is undertaking an approved study program are not reimbursable, except in exceptional circumstances;
- parking costs associated with undertaking a work trial, employment, or study as part of a rehabilitation program are not reimbursable, except in exceptional circumstances;
- the cheapest method of transport available, taking into account any restrictions imposed by the compensable injury;
- whether overnight accomodation is required in order for a person to complete a component of their rehabilitation program, such as vocational training course in a remote location; and
- what distance the person has had to travel.
When considering the amount of any reimbursement for travel expenses associated with a rehabilitation program, Rehabilitation Coordinators should utilise the guidelines provided in section 9.1.2 of this manual in relation to reimbursement of reasonable travel and/or accommodation costs to attend treatment as a benchmark of reasonable costs. It is important to note that there is no mandated kilometre rate for travel associated with attending approved rehabilitation activities. As a general principle, it would be reasonable for clients to self-fund any travel that was less than a 50 kilometre round trip. However, individual client circumstances must always be taken into account, and DVA delegates must be mindful of ensuring that they are aware of preventing any barriers to a person participating in a particular component of their rehabilitation program.