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9.8.2 Tertiary education for ADF members who are in the process of separating or have recently separated from the ADF

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Last amended 
26 May 2017

All decisions regarding funding for tertiary education courses for members who have either recently separated from, or are in the process of separation from the ADF, must be underpinned by evidence. Participation in such courses can only be approved where there is evidence that tertiary education is an appropriate vocational rehabilitation focus for a client, and is likely to lead to secure and sustainable employment in the civilian workforce.

Tertiary education as a component of ADF training

Where an ADF member was enrolled to complete full time undergraduate tertiary studies or tertiary equivalent courses as part of their ADF training, it can be taken as given that a judgement had already been made that the person had the capacity to undertake the course, and that it was an appropriate option for them, given their skills, interests, experience and educational background.

In this scenario, if the client’s expected career path is interrupted by a service related injury or illness, which leads to their medical separation from the ADF, then support with funding for tertiary studies must be considered for approval. This applies regardless of whether the client had actually commenced their tertiary studies prior to their discharge from the ADF, or is requesting support to continue with studies that they had already started.  If a Rehabilitation Coordinator has concerns about the client’s ability to successfully complete their studies because of medical restrictions as a result of their service injury or illness, then they must discuss this with the client’s treating health professional and if appropriate, their ADFRP Rehabilitation Consultant, and use this information to inform their determination.

Tertiary education as a component of a Defence rehabilitation program

In some instances, ADF members may have received support for tertiary studies as part of an extended transition process, or vocational rehabilitation activities delivered through the ADFRP or the Rehabilitation for Reservists Program. It is important that ADF members understand that in this instance, support for tertiary studies is not automatic once DVA becomes the person’s rehabilitation authority. This applies even if the person had already started their course prior to their separation from the ADF. This is because DVA’s usual process for considering and approving tertiary studies, outlined in this section, which includes the need for a comprehensive vocational assessment, must be always used to guide decision making about whether tertiary education is likely to lead to secure, sustainable employment in a civilian setting.

This approach is particularly relevant, where a person has existing qualifications which are highly transferrable to a civilian setting, and would enable them to earn at a similar salary level to their ADF role, but requests assistance with upgrading these qualifications. The key issue that must be considered is whether the further study will enable the person to find and sustain ongoing meaningful employment. An example would be a recently separated member who has nursing qualifications, but wishes to undertake further study to enable them to work as a paramedic. In this case, a labour market analysis will be essential to guide decision making. If this analysis shows that there will be better opportunities for the person to be able to find secure and sustainable employment as a paramedic in their local or neighbouring labour market, then it may be considered reasonable to approve this additional study. Before a determination is made to approve this study, it will also be essential to gain medical evidence that the person will be able to meet the ongoing physical and emotional demands of ongoing employment as a paramedic.

Documentary information

It is important that any information collected while the client was still a serving ADF member, to inform decisions about tertiary education, is requested and considered as part of this process.  If a Rehabilitation Coordinator is not satisfied that a detailed vocational rehabilitation assessment, including a labour market analysis, was completed prior to the member’s separation from the ADF, they must consider the points in step one, outlined in section 9.8.3 of this chapter, to inform their decision about whether to continue to fund the client’s chosen course.

If the client has already commenced their study, they must also submit a copy of their academic record to help inform the determination process. This will assist the Rehabilitation Coordinator to be satisfied as to whether the client has successfully met all of their course requirements.

All clients must provide a statement outlining their reasons for requesting assistance with tertiary education and sign the tertiary education assistance agreement before funding for their course can be released. This applies regardless of whether the client has already commenced their course. Please refer to steps two and three in section 9.8.3 of this chapter, for further information.

Any information received that is relevant to the client's tertiary studies request, must be uploaded as an attachment to the client's ISH case.

Rehabilitation Coordinators are encouraged to contact rehabilitation@dva.gov.au for policy advice if they have any concerns about continuing to support study programs already being undertaken by separating ADF members. Any policy advice received must be uploaded as an attachment to the client's R&C ISH case.