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10.9 Provision of Motor Vehicles or Motor Vehicle Modifications
There are provisions in each of the Acts:
- VEA – Vehicle Assistance Scheme (section 105);
- SRCA – section 39; and
- MRCA – Motor Vehicle Compensation Scheme (section 212),
under which assistance can be provided for the cost of vehicle modifications or, in cases of severe impairment and significant need (see details provided below), assistance with a motor vehicle purchase. While general guiding principles apply to the approval of the provision of the various forms assistance relating to motor vehicles across the three Acts, specific principles apply for each Act and require careful consideration.
Note: The approval process for motor vehicle modifications or assistance with the purchase of a motor vehicle must follow the Principles outlined previously in section 10.1 of this chapter.
As with the provision of alterations, aids and appliances the client must have:
- liability accepted for a compensation claim; and
- suffered an impairment as a result of a service injury or disease; and
- the accepted conditions must have resulted in the client being unable to drive or be driven in a motor vehicle in safety and comfort without modifications to their vehicle.
Where assistance with the cost of modifying a client’s existing motor vehicle is being considered, the following principles, derived from section 39(2) of SRCA, are to be taken into account through any subsequent assessment and reviewing processes:
- the likely period during which the alteration, modification, aid or appliance will be required;
- any difficulties faced by the employee in gaining access to, driving or enjoying freedom and safety of movement in, a vehicle used by the client;
- any alternative means of transport available to the client;
- previous vehicle modifications received under this section where the client has disposed of the vehicle – whether the value of that vehicle was increased as a result of the modifications.
A professional assessment with recommendations included which is undertaken by a suitably qualified service provider, i.e. a Driver Trained Specialist Occupational Therapist (see note below), is required to confirm that, due to the client’s level of impairment, they are unable to drive or be driven in their motor vehicle in safety and comfort without modifications to their vehicle and the client will derive benefit from one that has been suitable modified.
Driver Trained Specialist Occupational Therapists (OT) are attached to large rehabilitation centres in most Australian capital cities. These are specialist OTs who have gained additional qualifications (Driver Trained), and are nationally registered with all state and territory Road Traffic Authorities. They are qualified to assess a client’s need for motor vehicle modifications and recommend such modifications. They are also qualified to train drivers on how to safely use modifications.
Driver Trained Specialist OT can be located on the Occupational Therapist Association website of each state and territory. Alternatively, Driver Trained Specialist OT can be located on the Road Traffic Authority website of each state or territory.