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13.1 Rehabilitation rights and obligations
A person's rights and obligations when undertaking rehabilitation are contained in the standard forms titled 'Rehabilitation Rights and Obligations' available through the DVA forms portal. D1395 outlines a person’s rights and obligations when participating in a return to work program. D1396 is for those participating in a non-return to work program.
It is important that a person's rights and obligations are explained to them at the time they are referred for a rehabilitation assessment.
The rights and obligations forms contain a place for the client to sign the form and acknowledge they have read and understand their rights and obligations. Ideally, the document is signed and returned to the client’s rehabilitation provider, and then to the Rehabilitation Coordinator to upload as an attachment to R&C ISH. However, the rehabilitation plan can still proceed without the client returning this document. As long as the form has been provided to the client, it can be assumed that the client has read the document provided to them and agrees to meet their rehabilitation obligations.
Further information about the rights of clients participating in a rehabilitation plan can be found in section 13.1.1 of this Guide. Section 13.1.2 of this Guide contains information about the responsibilities of clients participating in a rehabilitation plan.
Development of a rehabilitation plan
DVA’s whole-of-person approach to rehabilitation must be utilised to enable each client’s rehabilitation plan to be tailored to their individual needs and circumstances. This approach reinforces that vocational rehabilitation must not be our only priority in assisting a person to build a new life for themselves after a service related injury.
Developing a rehabilitation plan must be a collaborative approach and it is essential that the client has made a significant contribution to developing the activities and goals of their rehabilitation plan. This process helps to ensure that the client is engaged with their rehabilitation program, motivated to achieve their identified goals, comfortable with signing their rehabilitation plan, and are willing and committed to meeting their rehabilitation obligations.
Signing of rehabilitation plans
A client who refuses to sign a rehabilitation plan is not considered to be non-compliant with their rehabilitation program merely because they have refused to sign their rehabilitation program.
Good communication is the key to resolving any issues that are causing concern about the client’s willingness to meet their rehabilitation obligations. This includes situations where a client refuses to sign their rehabilitation plan, because they do not agree with the focus or direction of the plan.
It is expected that the rehabilitation provider will have the skills and experience to discuss any concerns that the client may have about the activities included on the rehabilitation plan, or meeting any of their rehabilitation obligations and expectations and offer flexible solutions as appropriate. This is particularly important where a client has been experiencing ongoing barriers to their rehabilitation, or has experienced a change in their health status or their personal circumstances. The provider must raise these issues with the client’s DVA Rehabilitation Coordinator as quickly as possible, and discuss alternatives to resolving the issues that have been identified. It is essential that concerns about the client’s participation in the rehabilitation process are not raised where there is reasonable excuse for the client’s actions.
It is important that expectations are managed well from the beginning of the rehabilitation process, and that clients understand that the supports and services that can be provided through a rehabilitation program will be informed by evidence from appropriate assessments and examinations, and consistent with the legislative and policy guidelines outlined in this Guide.
Clients must never be asked to sign blank or incomplete rehabilitation plans. This is because the client’s signature provides evidence of their agreement to participate in all of the activities outlined in the rehabilitation plan. At all times, it is the Rehabilitation Coordinator's responsibility to keep the client informed of their rehabilitation rights and obligations. It is important to note that one of these rights is to refuse to sign a rehabilitation plan if the client is not satisfied with the content; and to seek advice from DVA about their rehabilitation plan at any time.
If, after extensive discussion and negotiation, and appropriate and reasonable adjustments to the rehabilitation plan, a client still refuses to sign the plan, then the Rehabilitation Coordinator should sign the rehabilitation plan and prepare the following items to be sent to the client:
- a covering letter, explaining that should they fail to undertake an activity included in the rehabilitation plan without reasonable excuse, then they risk being found non-compliant due to not fully participating in their rehabilitation program;
- a copy of the Rehabilitation Plan (signed by the Rehabilitation Coordinator and the rehabilitation provider); and
- a copy of the relevant rehabilitation rights and obligations document is to be attached to the client's copy of the plan.
This action provides clients with the opportunity have a clear understanding of the consequences to their rights to compensation if they refuse to meet their rehabilitation obligations.
Roles and responsibilities of Rehabilitation Coordinators and rehabilitation providers
It is vital that the distinct roles and responsibilities of the DVA Rehabilitation Coordinator and the rehabilitation provider are clearly maintained during the rehabilitation process. It is also expected that the Rehabilitation Coordinator will be proactive in appropriately managing and communicating with clients about any issues that may arise during the rehabilitation process.
Rehabilitation providers must not be asked to inform clients of any concerns that a Rehabilitation Coordinator may have, or to communicate any decisions that the Rehabilitation Coordinator has made. This is particularly important where there are concerns that a client may not be fully participating in their rehabilitation program. It is the responsibility of the Rehabilitation Coordinator to discuss all issues of non-compliance with the client. Rehabilitation providers must not be involved in communicating with clients about any part of the suspension process.
Further information about non-compliance with the rehabilitation process can be found in 13.3 of this Guide.