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9.8.1.1 Frequently asked questions about study funded through DVA

Document
Last amended 
19 September 2018

What type of education and training is considered by DVA to be ‘study’?

For the purposes of rehabilitation policy, the following education and training options are considered to be ‘study’:

  • secondary education, where the course of study is either an accredited senior secondary certificate of education (or equivalent) or a preparatory course for the purpose of enrolling in a related award course; and
  • tertiary education courses within the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF);
    • Training within the AQF includes Certificate level (Certificate I-IV), Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas/Associate Degrees, Bachelor-level degrees, Graduate Certificates/ Diplomas, and other post graduate qualifications.
    • Institutions offering these courses include:
      • Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges;
      • Higher education institutions (eg, university); and
      • Accredited Registered Training Organisation (RTO).


What types of study can be considered for funding by DVA as part of vocational rehabilitation?

All decisions about study funded through a rehabilitation program will be based on the outcomes of a comprehensive vocational assessment (see section 9.5 of this library for more information). This assessment is critical as it includes a breadth of information which will inform consideration of study being approved. 

It is preferred that tertiary education courses of study approved as part of a DVA rehabilitation program are undertaken through an institution which enables access to Commonwealth assistance for the course of study. Commonwealth assistance is provided through the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). More information about funding study through rehabilitation can be found in section 9.8.4 of this library.
 

What is the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)?

This is an Australian Government loan program to help eligible students pay their student contributions (HECS-HELP); tuition fees (FEE-HELP or VET Student Loans); and/or student services and amenities fees (SA-HELP). These loans are repaid through the Australian tax system. For further information, the following table may assist:

Type of tertiary studyInstitutions which provide Commonwealth assistance
Vocational education and training
  • VET Student Loan approved course providers

For further information visit:
https://www.myskills.gov.au/
https://www.education.gov.au/vet-student-loans

University / Higher education

  • Institutions offering studies as a Commonwealth Supported Place. HECS-HELP funds the student contribution, which is the component a student would be required to repay the tax office, but for DVA funding.
     

  • Education institutions approved to offer FEE-HELP for a course of study. FEE-HELP funds the tuition fees for a ‘fee-paying’ place at university or other higher education institution. This is the component a student would be required to repay the tax office, but for DVA funding.


For further information visit:
https://www.studyassist.gov.au/while-youre-studying-providers-offer-commonwealth-assistance/universities-and-other-higher-education

https://www.studyassist.gov.au/while-youre-studying/providers-offer-commonwealth-assistance


Why do DVA generally only fund further education up to the Bachelor Degree or Graduate Certificate level?

As a general rule, DVA will only fund up to an undergraduate Bachelor or Graduate Certificate level degree. These degrees can provide individuals not only with a formal qualification, but also a number of transferable skills and experiences relevant to the workforce. In most cases, Bachelor level degrees are sufficient to enable individuals to attain suitable and sustainable employment, however for a small number of employment roles a graduate certificate is a minimum requirement. For this reason DVA will generally not fund tertiary education for clients who already have an existing tertiary-level qualification at the Bachelor degree level or higher.

Requests must be considered on a case-by-case basis, and Rehabilitation Coordinators are encouraged to contact rehabilitation@dva.gov.au for policy advice if they receive a request which they believe warrants further consideration due to the client’s individual circumstances.


Can DVA fund study that a person is already undertaking?

If a client has commenced a course prior to approval being sought or given as part of a rehabilitation program, retrospective payment of the course fees cannot be considered.

If seeking funding support for the remaining elements of their study of the client is required to undertake an application for support of their study, as per other DVA rehabilitation clients. Steps outlined in section 9.8.3 of this library must be considered as part of the process of ensuring this study is an appropriate option for the client. Course fees can only be considered for funding once this process has taken place.  


Can a client fund study themselves?

Where an objective and comprehensive vocational assessment does not recommend a specific further education course as an appropriate option to attain suitable and sustainable employment, clients may choose to pursue study at their own expense. This may occur for instance where:

  • A client already has substantial experience, skills and qualifications which is adequate to secure suitable and sustainable employment in the civilian workforce; or
  • A client can secure suitable and sustainable employment in the civilian workforce with more cost effective education and/or training options, but chooses to pursue their preferred course of study; or
  • A client has already completed a Bachelor degree or higher, and can obtain suitable and sustainable employment in the civilian workforce without the need for further study, or with more cost effective education and/or training options.

Where a client chooses to pursue study at their own expense, and has capacity to participate in a DVA rehabilitation program, particularly when in receipt of incapacity payments, they are required to fully participate in their rehabilitation plan unhindered as part of the eligibility to receive this compensation payment.

Where a comprehensive vocational assessment indicates that further education and training is not required to attain suitable employment, and medical evidence indicates the client has capacity to work, they will be expected to undertake vocational activities as part of their rehabilitation program, and accept any suitable employment that is offered to them.

Where a client chooses to prioritise their self-funded study, and is not fully participating in their agreed vocational rehabilitation activities or does not accept suitable employment when it is offered to them as a result of their self-funded study, they risk being found to be non-compliant as a result of not meeting their rehabilitation obligations.  This  may result in suspension of the client’s compensation payments.

Note: Clients can still access treatment for their accepted conditions, even if they are non-compliant in their rehabilitation program.

Similarly, where a client leaves suitable employment for the sole purpose of pursuing self-funded study, their circumstances would require review to consider if they have a deemed ability to earn. Further information about deeming a client able to earn, can be found in section 2.7 of this Library. Rehabilitation Coordinators are encouraged to discuss cases with their team leader and contact rehabilitation@dva.gov.au for advice, noting that any policy advice received must be uploaded as an attachment to the client's R&C ISH case.


Can a client appeal study related decisions made by DVA?

If a client identifies study as a potential rehabilitation activity, but based on evidence available to the rehabilitation provider or coordinator, this is not considered appropriate for funding through a rehabilitation program, the reasons why study was not considered appropriate must be discussed with the client. As with all rehabilitation plans, discussions about rehabilitation activities should be a collaborative process between the client and the Rehabilitation Provider, with further advice sought from the DVA rehabilitation coordinator where required.

When a rehabilitation coordinator has considered all relevant evidence and has made a decision that study is not an appropriate activity to fund through a rehabilitation program, there are no avenues of appeal for the client. This is because a formal determination has not been made, and is not made as part of the process. Rather, the rehabilitation coordinator has considered all available evidence, and has made a decision that study is not an appropriate activity to be included on a client's rehabilitation program. Where a rehabilitation coordinator requires advice about the appropriateness of a request, they should discuss this with their team leader, who can contact Rehabilitation@dva.gov.au where further guidance is required.