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9.8.3 Steps for approving tertiary education

Document
Last amended 
1 November 2018

Overview

To ensure all relevant information is captured and considered when approving funding for tertiary education under a vocational rehabilitation program, the following steps need to be followed. Note, tertiary education is defined in section 9.8 of this library.

Step 1: Vocational assessment
Step 2: Supplementary evidence and client statement submitted
Step 3: Consider the evidence and approve where appropriate
Step 4: All parties sign the D9303 Tertiary Education Assistance Form
Step 5: Ongoing management of a client of undertaking tertiary study

Further detail is provided below and is intended as a resource for both DVA rehabilitation coordinators and rehabilitation providers.


Step 1: Vocational assessment

A comprehensive vocational assessment should provide the evidence to determine whether tertiary education is reasonably required for the client to find suitable and sustainable work. The vocational assessment must take into account all of the considerations outlined in section 9.5 of this library. Even where a client expresses a strong preference to pursue a specific education pathway, it is expected that the vocational assessment will provide objective recommendations for achieving suitable and sustainable employment.


Step 2: Supplementary evidence and client statement submitted

Where tertiary education has been recommended through a comprehensive vocational assessment, and approval for the course of study is being pursued under a vocational rehabilitation program, the following should be made available to the rehabilitation coordinator to assist with their decision making:

Supplementary evidence

  • evidence to demonstrate the course of study is a reasonable option to enable a client to achieve suitable and sustainable work. Where a higher education course is being recommended, there should be specific and justifiable reasons why this qualification is required, over alternative options noted in section 9.8.2 of this library;
  • medical advice that tertiary study is an appropriate option for the client, and that they have the medical capacity to undertake work, for which the course is preparing them, at the conclusion of studying. In most cases, it is expected that medical evidence is sourced from the client's treating health practitioner or specialist. In some cases however, particularly where conflicting evidence exists, advice of an Occupational Physician can be helpful;
  • evidence that the client’s capacity for study has been duly considered. This includes:
    • the client's aptitude for, and ability to commit to, the proposed course of study;
    • the client’s capacity to manage both the contact and expected non-contact hours required to successfully complete units;
    • the client's capacity to manage any required training or placements related to the proposed course with consideration of their other life commitments; and
    • the mode of study that is most appropriate for the client (i.e. face-to-face, or distance education delivered online);
  • Other considerations that may be indicative of a person’s capacity for study includes:
    • the level or number of hours of study that is recommended due to the client's health conditions;
    • if there is a discrepancy between capacity for work and capacity for study, a detailed explanation and justification of this discrepancy is required; and
    • any suggestions that the practitioner believes may assist the client in being successful in undertaking study.

Where a client has had tertiary education approved by the ADF, and this course of study will continue post separation from the ADF there are further considerations that must be taken into account before this study will be supported through DVA. Please see section 9.8.4 of this library for further information.

If a rehabilitation coordinator is not satisfied with, or queries the medical evidence provided, the appropriate course of action depends on the circumstances of the case. However, some options for rehabilitation coordinators include:

  • seeking advice from a relevant Departmental Medical Advisor;
  • requesting a supplementary report from the treating practitioner;
  • participating in a case conference with the rehabilitation provider and treating practitioner and/or other parties as required. 

For cases which commenced after 29 May 2017, vocational assessments and medical evidence should be uploaded as an attachment to the client's R&C ISH case. For cases that commenced prior to this date, this evidence should be saved to the client's TRIM folder.


Client Statement

A client statement in support of their application for tertiary education is required and must demonstrate the client’s:    

  • understanding of the requirements of the course (including the number of contact hours, additional study hours to complete course requirements, work placements etc)
  • awareness of and expectations of their ability to meet the course requirements within the context of managing competing demands on their time (such as regular appointments or child care commitments;
  • anticipated plan to balance competing demands while meeting the requirements of the course (NB: The rehabilitation provider can assist clients to investigate options for managing their time/competing demands identified in the client statement);  

And, where a client is expected to be studying full-time and in receipt of incapacity payments at a rate of 100% of their former earnings:

  • explicit acknowledgement that they understand of the requirement to:
    • advise their DVA rehabilitation coordinator or rehabilitation provider within fourteen (14) days of any changes to their circumstances which results in them no longer being eligible for the stepped-up rate of incapacity payments. That is, they cease to be studying an approved course full-time.
    • repay any overpayments to DVA if they do not meet this requirement; and
    • acknowledge that not notifying DVA of a change in their circumstances may impact future eligibility for study funding through Department.
       

Step 3: Consider the evidence and approve where appropriate

After considering the evidence provided through the Vocational Assessment (step 1) and the supplementary evidence/ client statement (step 2) the rehabilitation coordinator should have enough information to make a decision about whether further education can be approved as an activity funded through the clients vocational rehabilitation plan.

  • Rehabilitation coordinators should complete the D9304 Tertiary Education Approval Checklist Form*, which is available on the DVA forms portal.

This checklist ensures all relevant policy requirements have been considered. Where further education has been approved as part of a rehabilitation program, the completed D9304 form should be uploaded to R&C ISH.

Where further education is not approved, the reason why it was not considered an appropriate activity to fund through DVA rehabilitation should be communicated to the rehabilitation provider and documented. Where appropriate, alternative options should also be communicated.

 * Note: this form is currently under review by the Employment and Rehabilitation Branch. For further information, please contact rehabilitation@dva.gov.au


Step 4: All parties sign the D9303 Tertiary Education Assistance Form* 

This step becomes applicable once further education has been approved as an activity on a client’s rehabilitation program.

  • A D9303 Tertiary Education Assistance Agreement Form must be signed by the client, the rehabilitation provider, and the rehabilitation coordinator. This form is available on the DVA forms portal.

The purpose of this form is to:

  • outline the specifics of the course the client will be undertaking; and
  • explain the role and responsibilities of the client, rehabilitation provider and rehabilitation coordinator for the duration of study.

It is important that all parties are familiar with, understand, and as evidence of this understanding, can explain their obligations as outlined in the document. By signing and submitting this form each party acknowledges that they have agreed to meet these expectations throughout the course of study.

For new cases after 29 May 2017 once the agreement is signed, the agreement must be uploaded as an attachment to the client's R&C ISH case. For existing cases, the agreement must be saved to the client's TRIM folder.

 * Note: this form is currently under review by the Employment and Rehabilitation Branch. For further information, please contact rehabilitation@dva.gov.au

 
Step 5: Ongoing management of a client undertaking study

All clients undertaking further education as an approved activity under a return to work rehabilitation plan should have an open rehabilitation plan throughout the study period, identifying a clear return to work goal. This is necessary as the plan provides the administrative mechanism for the education fees to be paid.

The plan must be managed by an approved rehabilitation provider, with the skills and experience to provide support and assist the client in a proactive way throughout the course of study. The rehabilitation plan must remain open for the duration of the course, and for any additional period required for job seeking at the conclusion of the plan.

It is important that the rehabilitation provider works with the client throughout the course of study to identity, explore and address barriers that may prevent the client from successfully completing their studies. Where appropriate, psychosocial rehabilitation activities may be put in place to help address these barriers. For example, it may be appropriate to include psychosocial activities, such as pain management or adjustment to disability counselling in the client’s rehabilitation plan if these issues are creating barriers to the client achieving their study goals. A pro-active approach must be taken to assist the client and respond to their current needs and circumstances. Rehabilitation providers are expected to keep in touch with the client’s DVA rehabilitation coordinator about the client’s progress in their course.

Further information about the payment of education and training fees can be found in section 9.8.4 of this library.