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4.3 Transitioning from the ADF Rehabilitation Programs to the MRCC
Section 39 of the MRCA provides that the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) is the rehabilitation authority for full time serving members, reservists on CFTS and non-CFTS reservists including those on the standby/inactive reserve lists, regardless of whether they are parading or not. This applies to serving members covered by the MRCA or the SRCA and applies until the member has been identified as being likely to be discharged on medical grounds.
Defence and DVA have agreed that even though an ADF member has been identified as likely to be discharged on medical grounds, Defence will retain responsibility for the member’s rehabilitation until the actual date of separation from the ADF. Therefore, as a general rule, all rehabilitation assistance for a serving member should be provided by the CDF until the date of the member's separation. There are two exceptions to this general rule. These are when a temporary transfer of rehabilitation authority is required to provide specific assistance to serving members, such as provision of adaptive equipment/aids or appliances, or when an early transfer of rehabilitation authority prior to separation is required as this would be more beneficial for the member.
Transfer of rehabilitation authority prior to separation from the ADF
There are two sections of the MRCA which enable a transfer of rehabilitation authority to occur prior a member’s separation from the ADF. These are MRCA section 10, which applies to non-CFTS reservists only, and section 39(3)(aa) of the MRCA.
MRCA section 10
Section 10 of the MRCA enables a non-CFTS reservist, including those on the standby/inactive list, to be regarded as a “former member” for the purposes of the MRCA. Once a person is regarded as a former member, then the MRCC automatically becomes their rehabilitation authority.
A section 10 transfer should be considered when:
- a member has voluntarily discharged from the ADF and remains on the ADF standby/inactive reserve list, but is not parading and has no active involvement in the ADF reserves
- DVA has accepted liability for the reservist’s service injury or disease;
- there is medical evidence that the reservist is unlikely to be able to perform their ADF duties due to their incapacity resulting from their accepted conditions; and
- a determination has been made that the reservist is eligible for incapacity payments.
Where these circumstances are met, the CDF must provide written advice to the MRCC that the Reservist is unlikely to be able to perform the duties of a non-CFTS reservist in the future as a result of their incapacity. The advice must be in accordance with section 10(4) of the MRCA and state the date (which must not be retrospective) from which the person to have ceased to be a member of the ADF for the purposes of the MRCA.
Upon receiving the advice, the MRCC will automatically become the rehabilitation authority on and from that specified date. The delegate of the MRCC (the Rehabilitation Coordinator) must advise the CDF within 5-10 days that the referral has been accepted.
The CDF (or their delegate) must provide the client with written advice that a transfer of rehabilitation authority has occurred, and that the MRCC is now the rehabilitation authority and will be responsible for managing the person’s whole-of-person rehabilitation program from the date specified in the advice.
Once a MRCA section 10 transfer has occurred, as the client is regarded as a “former member” for the purposes of the MRCA, the incapacity “step-down” can be applied. Further information about the “step down” can be found in section 6.4.1 of the MRCA policy manual.
Using MRCA section 10 does not have any impact, legislatively or otherwise on the ADF’s ability to re-activate a non-CFTS Reservist to perform his/her ADFR duties and transfer to the Active Reserves or CFTS at any point in the future in accordance with Defence requirements. In cases when the person is transferred back to active ADF duties, the client automatically becomes a “member” for the purposes of the MRCA from the time of transfer.
MRCA section 39(3)(aa)
MRCA section 39(3)(aa) enables DVA, after receiving advice from the CDF, to become a person's rehabilitation authority at a specified time. A transfer of rehabilitation authority using MRCA section 39(3)(aa) is most appropriate where the member:
- is already receiving a range of services and support from DVA, and there are challenges in the ADF Rehabilitation Programs being able to meet the client's individual rehabilitation support needs; or
- is experiencing personal/health/psychological issues and ongoing involvement with the ADF is likely to have a detrimental impact on their wellbeing and recovery.
To enable a transfer to occur using MRCA section 39(3)(aa) the following actions are required:
- discussion must occur between either the ADFRP, the Rehabilitation for Reservists Program and the DVA Rehabilitation Coordinator to determine whether an earlier transfer of rehabilitation authority would be beneficial for the client;
- DVA must receive advice from the ADFRP or the Rehabilitation for Reservists Program that they would like a transfer of rehabilitation authority to occur;
- there must be evidence that the client is aware that the transfer of rehabilitation authority has been requested and is comfortable with this request;
- there must be evidence sighted that the client has provided consent for information to be shared between Defence and DVA; and
- the Rehabilitation Coordinator must issue a written determination that the MRCC is to be the rehabilitation authority for the client and to specify the time from which the determination applies.
Good communication is essential when a transfer of a rehabilitation authority occurs. When the member is being prepared for handover to DVA, a Handover Case Conference may be required involving the ADF Rehabilitation Consultant, the DVA Rehabilitation Coordinator and other stakeholders. Where appropriate, this may include the client. The case conference should discuss and identify key issues relating to the client's rehabilitation and identify contact points that can be used if there are issues that need to be clarified once DVA becomes the person's rehabilitation authority.
All members with an open rehabilitation program (delivered by either the ADFRP or the Rehabilitation for Reservists Program) who are being transferred across to DVA should have a Transfer Handover Report, and all relevant documentation/reports prepared by the relevant rehabilitation program presented at the time of transfer.
Further information about communication between the ADFRP, the Rehabilitation for Reservists Program and DVA can be found in section 4.2 of this Guide.
Ensuring continuity of rehabilitation assistance
Subsection 40(3) of the MRCA provides that where the rehabilitation authority changes, the MRCC must abide by any rehabilitation determination made by the ADFRP or Rehabilitation for Reservists Program. This means that DVA must continue a rehabilitation program that was commenced under the ADFRP or Rehabilitation for Reservists Program. Ideally, this should also entail continuing with the same rehabilitation service provider utilised under the ADFRP or Rehabilitation for Reservists Program, and for Career Transition Assistance Scheme (CTAS) career coaching/training where possible. A new assessment will be necessary if the rehabilitation program requires amendment or variation. Accordingly, it is necessary for there to be ongoing dialogue between the ADF Rehabilitation Consultant and DVA Rehabilitation Coordinators, prior to the Handover Conference if possible.
All correspondence between DVA Rehabilitation Coordinators and ADF Rehabilitation staff regarding the provision of rehabilitation assistance to serving members, the transition of rehabilitation authority, or any other matter, should be sent via email with a classification of ‘Sensitive - Personal’.