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10.7.9 Modifications to vehicles
Where a client requires modifications to their vehicle due to their accepted condition, the relevant vehicle scheme should be considered in the first instance.
For clients with conditions under the MRCA please refer to the Motor Vehicle Compensation Scheme which is outlined in section 10.12 of this library. For clients with conditions under the VEA, refer to the Vehicle Assistance Scheme outlined in section 6.4 of the Compensation and Support Policy Library. Clients with SRCA conditions should have their claims considered under the section 39 of the SRCA which is explained in section 10.10 of this library.
Where the modification cannot be provided through the relevant vehicle scheme, consideration may be given to whether modification can be provided by RAP. This may occur for example, where a VEA client does not meet the eligibility criteria for provision of a vehicle and modifications to that vehicle under the Vehicle Assistance Scheme (VAS) but is experiencing difficulties with driving.
Where an ADF member is still serving, all requests for vehicle modifications should be communicated to DVA by the relevant ADF Rehabilitation Program (the ADFRP and the Rehabilitation for Reservists Program). The client’s eligibility for assistance through the relevant vehicle assistance schemes or RAP can be explored once the request is received. However, in most instances a serving member will have their request considered under the MVCS or section 39 of SRCA, because vehicle modifications can only considered through RAP where a client holds a DVA Health Card.
Vehicle modifications can be provided through RAP where a client has a medically assessed need due to a war-caused injury or disease or accepted disability. It is important to note that vehicle modifications can only considered through RAP where a client holds a DVA Health Card and the relevant vehicle scheme has been considered.
The following additional criteria should be met before vehicle modifications can be approved:
- the entitled person should be unable to safely drive or travel in an unmodified vehicle; and
- the entitled person should, where they are the drive, have an appropriate level of physical function to safely operate the modified vehicle.
The RAP Schedule defines a vehicle modification as a modification made to a car or van to allow an entitled person with a disability to access, and either drive, or travel in the vehicle. These include modifications and equipment to assist with transfers, manual wheelchair transport (by way of hoists), seating needs, customised driving controls and other related devices. Manual vehicles will not normally be converted to automatic under RAP. Therefore, these types of vehicle modifications must be considered under the appropriate vehicle scheme applicable to the client’s circumstances, described in section 10.9, section 10.10, section 10.11 and section 10.12 of this chapter.
The initial request for vehicle modifications should come from a certified driver trained Occupational Therapist, Local Medical Officer or GP, or suitably qualified Specialist. The request should provide all necessary clinical information to support the provision of appropriate modifications. This request must be submitted before an assessment is organised. This is because the RAP National Guidelines apply to vehicle modifications through RAP. Prior approval is required before:
- the initial assessment can be conducted;
- remedial lessons in the use of modifications, or re-assessments can be provided; and
- modifications can be installed.
To organise prior approval for an initial assessment for a vehicle modification, please send the request to RAP.
Following the initial request, the responsible assessing health provider (usually a certified driver trained OT) is required to undertake an assessment and provide a report which sets out:
- relevant clinical information in support of the request;
- detailed of the entitled person’s physical, cognitive, and visual spatial abilities;
that the vehicle modifications:
- are the most appropriate to the client’s needs;
- have been determined in partnership with the potential user (and their carer as appropriate);
- have been assessed against other less expensive options (eg. manual lightweight wheelchair with quick release axles to enable car boot storage as an alternative to a car hoist); and
- have been trialled to determine suitability;
as well as
- quotations for the modifications; and
- details of any necessary training and advice that has been or will be provided.
Before the modifications can be provided, the person must verify ownership of their vehicle and possession of suitably endorse licence to drive a modified vehicle. This would apply to circumstances where, for example, a person required modifications to driving controls.
Modifications are only to be undertaken by appropriately qualified persons, like a certified driver mechanic.
For further information about vehicle modifications, providers can contact RAP through the DVA Health Provider Line on 1300 550 457 (metro) or 1800 550 457 (regional) and select option 1 for RAP.