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9.8.6 Entitlements during retraining/further education
During a period of retraining which is approved under a rehabilitation plan, and provided the client is fully participating in their retraining, their incapacity entitlements should continue to be calculated on the same basis as if they were not working.
The following expenses are payable to clients undertaking a course of study:
- course fees - including HECS-HELP student contribution amounts, apprenticeship course fees, administration fees and examination fees; and
- an incidentals allowance of $1000 per annum for full-time study and $500 per annum for part-time study - to cover the cost of essential books, equipment, excursions and consumables e.g. stationery, USB plugs and printer cartridges.
Where a tertiary course was approved after 29 May 2017, tertiary course fees need to be included as a third party costs to a rehabilitation plan in R&C ISH. Refer to section 9.8.4 of this chapter for specific information about paying tertiary education course fees.
Where there is concern about retraining or course fees being paid on time, there is flexibility for the rehabilitation provider to pay these costs, and for DVA to reimburse them. This should be negotiated with the provider when the retraining or study is approved as part of the client's rehabilitation plan.
If the client has commenced the course prior to approval being sought or given as part of a rehabilitation program, retrospective payment of the course fees cannot be considered. There are a number of steps outlined in section 9.8.3 of this chapter which must be considered as part of the process of ensuring that tertiary education is an appropriate option for a client and course fees can only be paid once this process has taken place.
The incidentals allowance is paid in equal instalments at the commencement of each study period.
A student undertaking:
- two study periods would receive two payments of $500 (or two payments of $250 for part-time);
- three study periods would receive two payments of $333 and one payment of $334 (or two payments of $166.50 and one of $167 for part-time); and
- four study periods would receive four payments of $250 (or four payments of $125 for part-time).
The incidentals allowance is payable to any client undertaking an approved course of study as part of a rehabilitation plan, whether it be a university, TAFE or other similar long term course of more than six months. Provision of receipts is not required for the incidentals allowance to be paid but payment of the allowance needs to be added as a case note to the client's R&C ISH case.
If a client's expenditure is higher than the amount of incidentals allowance payable, they may be reimbursed for the additional costs, subject to the provision of receipts documenting the total expenditure on incidentals. Reimbursement of costs will be provided for courses of less than six months where receipts documenting the total expenditure on incidentals are provided. Reimbursement of additional expenses can only be provided for equipment, books, excursions and consumables that are regarded as an essential requirement for the course. Consideration should be given to hiring or leasing equipment, such as a computer, if that is a more cost effective option than purchase.
The client's status as either a full-time or part-time student shall be determined by reference to the definitions of full-time and part-time used by the institution at which they are enrolled.
Aids and appliances may be provided where these items are reasonably required (as a result of a service related injury/ies) to assist a client to safely undertake a course of study. The policy guidelines on the provision of aids and appliances can be found in chapter 10 of the Rehabilitation Policy Library.
Apprenticeships and funding for essential tools
Where a client participating in a vocational rehabilitation plan is undertaking an apprenticeship, DVA is able to cover the costs of the apprenticeship course fees. In order for the course fees to be paid each semester, the client must provide evidence that they have passed the components of the course. This evidence can be in the form of a transcript, or similar, that shows a pass mark or above for the client‘s subjects.
Where a client requires essential tools to undertake an apprenticeship which is an approved activity in their vocational rehabilitation plan, DVA may be able to provide funding to enable these to be purchased. It is important that a distinction be made between essential tools and tools the client may desire which are not necessarily essential to undertake the apprenticeship.
Before funding is provided, the client’s rehabilitation provider is expected to investigate all financial assistance that could be accessed through other Government rebates and allowances. Then, if there is still a gap in funding which meant that the person could not purchase essential tools for their apprenticeship, funding can be provided.