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2.5 What are some of the key differences between Rehabilitation under VVRS, DRCA & MRCA

Last amended 
18 April 2023

Section 5 of the MRCA defines a rehabilitation program in medical, vocational and psychosocial terms. Section 4 of the DRCA defines a rehabilitation program in medical and vocational terms only. However, this does not limit the ability of DVA to develop policies to provide psychosocial rehabilitation under DRCA in a manner that is consistent with MRCA, to ensure equity of access to the full range of rehabilitation support available as part of DVA’s whole-of-person rehabilitation framework. This approach is consistent with SRCA case law about the meaning of “rehabilitation program” – see the current edition of the Annotated SRCA (by Peter Sutherland and John Oman Ballard, with Allan Anforth).

The Veterans' Vocational Rehabilitation Scheme (VVRS) provided under the VEA is a vocational rehabilitation scheme which will include medical management and psychosocial services from 20 March 2016. Unlike DRCA and MRCA there is no mutual obligation on a person to participate in a rehabilitation program, and there is no suspension of benefits due to non-compliance. The VVRS also contains pension safety net provisions which are unique to that scheme.

Provision of a rehabilitation program

Section 53 of the MRCA requires that a rehabilitation authority conduct a rehabilitation assessment prior to amending or closing a rehabilitation program. Section 53 also requires the rehabilitation authority to consult with the client about the proposed determination to amend or close a rehabilitation program. While there are no similar provisions under the DRCA, the same principles under MRCA apply when amending or closing a rehabilitation program for a DRCA client. 

Under section 52 of MRCA and section 37 of DRCA, if a person fails to undertake a rehabilitation program it is only the person's right to compensation that is suspended. The right to medical treatment or compensation for medical treatment remains. Under section 52 of MRCA, where a determination is made to cease a suspension of compensation, the delegate must be a different delegate to the one who made the original decision to suspend compensation. This requirement is also stipulated under DRCA subsection 62(4).

Compensation for a motor vehicle

Section 212 of the MRCA provides for the creation of a separate Motor Vehicle Compensation Scheme (MVCS) similar to the Vehicle Assistance Scheme (VAS) provided under the VEA.  The VAS limits access to the scheme to veterans with serious physical impairments such as amputations and paraplegia whereas, an eligible veteran under the MVCS needs to have suffered an impairment. Both the VAS and MVCS provide compensation for the purchase of a vehicle. The VAS also provides an annual vehicle maintenance allowance which is not provided under the MVCS.

Under DRCA, modifications to motor vehicles are provided under section 39 in the Rehabilitation provisions but there is not a distinct scheme. While the DRCA provisions appear to limit compensation to the cost of modifications, in reality there is some flexibility in this regard. Rehabilitation Coordinators are requested to contact for further information. .

Deeming a client able to earn

Subsections 19(4) of the DRCA and section 181 of the MRCA contain the provisions for deeming a client able to earn and are almost identical. In some circumstances, DRCA rehabilitation processes have presupposed that a client would be considered “Able to Earn” (AE) at the completion of a rehabilitation program, irrespective of whether or not the person was actually in paid employment.  However, the MRCC has provided guidance for the application of these provisions that where a person can show genuine yet unsuccessful attempts to obtain suitable work, they will not be deemed AE. This policy applies equally for DRCA and MRCA clients.

DVA should continue to work with a person, through the provision of a rehabilitation program for as long as that person is a willing participant in the rehabilitation process and attempting to locate suitable work.

Eligible for rehabilitation under more than one Act

Section 18 of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004 directs that where a person is undertaking a rehabilitation program under the VEA or DRCA, and the person subsequently becomes eligible for rehabilitation under the MRCA, then the rehabilitation authority may determine that the program provided under the VEA or DRCA ceases to be provided. If such a decision is made, the provider may incorporate all or part of the old program, into the new program to be provided under MRCA. This is particularly relevant for those clients moving from a program provided under the VVRS to MRCA, as rehabilitation programs under MRCA and DRCA are offered under the same principles.  For those moving from the VVRS to a program under MRCA, their program will change from only a vocational focus, to a broader range of support provided under the whole-of-person rehabilitation provisions for MRCA.