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10.12.7 Subsidising the purchase of an initial new or second-hand motor vehicle

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Last amended 
13 September 2016

Where the Commission subsidises the purchase of a motor vehicle for a person for the first time, that vehicle is known as an “initial motor vehicle”. The initial vehicle may be a new vehicle, or a second-hand vehicle.

Eligibility for an initial vehicle

The MVCS legislative instrument specifies that an eligible person seeking compensation for an initial vehicle under the MVCS must:

  • have an accepted condition; and
  • have been clinically assessed as being unable to drive or be driven in a motor vehicle in safety and reasonable comfort without modifications; and
  • be considered able to drive or derive a benefit from using the motor vehicle at least twice a week.

Decisions about whether these criteria are met must be informed by an assessment by a Driver Trained Occupational Therapist (OT).

There are no prescribed conditions or levels of impairment that are required in order to access compensation for an initial vehicle under the MVCS, the client just need to have an ‘accepted condition’. However, previous Commission decisions demonstrate a commitment to promoting alignment between all motor vehicle assistance schemes administered by DVA.  Therefore, the types of impairment which will commonly give rise to the need for compensation under the MVCS to purchase an initial motor vehicle may include, but are not limited to:

  • the loss of or the loss of the use of a leg or both legs; or
  • the loss of or the loss of the use of both arms; or
  • paraplegia resulting in the loss of voluntary power in a leg or legs or both arms.
Criteria that must be met before an initial vehicle can be provided

An eligible person will be entitled to receive an initial vehicle if the delegate is satisfied, based on evidence from the Driver Trained OT report, that:

  • if the person owns or has an interest in a motor vehicle that it is not possible, practicable or cost effective to modify it in the necessary way; or
  • if the person owns or has an interest in a motor vehicle that it is not an appropriate option to modify that motor vehicle (for example, if the vehicle is jointly owned by the client and his or her partner who also needs to use the car, it may not be appropriate to modify that car); or
  • the person does not own or have an interest in a motor vehicle.

An exception to the third dot point is where the person has disposed of a motor vehicle that they owned or had an interest in within the 12 months prior to applying for an initial vehicle under the MVCS.  In such circumstances, a person is not eligible for the purchase of an initial  vehicle if the delegate is satisfied that the person disposed of a motor vehicle or an interest in a motor vehicle for the primary purpose of gaining a financial benefit from the MVCS.

If the Driver Trained OT is satisfied that the person requires modifications that cannot be made to the person's current vehicle, then an initial vehicle under the MVCS can be considered. The Driver Trained OT assessment must provide information about the type of modifications that the client requires to meet their needs due to their accepted conditions, recommendations about the most suitable vehicles to meet these needs (ideally based on a trial driving test), and quotes for each of the suitable vehicles.

The amount of any subsidy for the purchase of an initial vehicle must take account of the trade-in value of the person’s existing motor vehicle, or any interest in a motor vehicle.

Claims for an initial vehicle

All claims for an initial new or second hand-vehicle under the MVCS are to be emailed for consideration to the Rehabilitation, Case Escalation and MRCA Review Branch at rehabilitation@dva.gov.au. Please ensure that all relevant information, including an up to date Driver Trained OT report and all of their recommendations are included with the request.

Should a client wish to have a decision that has been made about an initial vehicle under the MVCS reviewed, they should submit the request as per the normal review process outlined in section 13.4 of this library.  

Requests for further modifications to the vehicle to be purchased (including for example, a reversing camera or new seats to ensure proper posture while driving) do not need to be referred for approval. However, the decision to approve these additional modifications must be based on evidence received from a Driver Trained OT.

An eligible person for the MVCS is a person who has:

  • suffered an impairment as a result of an accepted MRCA condition;
  • because of that impairment, has a need for compensation under the MVCS; and
  • has submitted a claim for compensation under section 319 of the MRCA.

This includes serving members who have not been identified as “likely to discharge” or reached the point of separation, Reservists on CFTS, part time Reservists and ADF Cadets, Officer of Cadets and Instructors of Cadets.