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6.7.1 Short-term Gym-Pool Membership

Last amended 
11 April 2023

The only circumstances under which an individual gym/pool membership could be considered, would be as a short-term (no more than 3 months), one-off activity under a psychosocial or vocational rehabilitation plan.

The intention of providing initial, time-limited support to purchase a 3-month gym/pool membership through a psychosocial or vocational rehabilitation plan would be to provide clients with an opportunity to establish a pattern of exercise as part of learning to self-manage their ongoing health issues and reach their rehabilitation goals. This support may also help a person to introduce structure and positive routines back into their lives, build resilience and start to build work readiness or work fitness.

There is no intention that the department will continue to pay for costs associated with ongoing gym/pool memberships. Rather, time-limited support provides an opportunity to provide targeted support to assist a client to overcome barriers to their rehabilitation. After the initial 3-month period, the client has the option to move to paying for their own membership if they choose to do so, or alternately to move to a home exercise program with simple equipment provided by the department. This approach would enable a client to continue to exercise and self-manage their health conditions at home, if they felt this was most suitable for their circumstances. Further information about home exercise equipment can be found in section 10.7.6 of this Guide.

Delegates should consider approaching an Injury Management Advisor before approving a gym/pool membership to ensure that these activities are suitable for the client's accepted conditions and will not create a risk of further injury. DVA Rehabilitation Delegates can find information about the DVA Health Advisers by searching on the Staff Directory for Clinical Advisers, then expand "Level" to locate the appropriate Adviser.

Gym/pool memberships cannot be regarded as treatment

Legislative changes associated with the introduction of the White Card for DRCA clients in December 2013 removed the option for gym/pool memberships to be regarded as treatment. To ensure consistency of approach, a policy decision was made to apply the same approach for MRCA clients. There is therefore now no basis for paying for gym/pool memberships as treatment for any DVA clients.

Other alternatives should be considered before deciding on the best option for a client. These may include the client working with an exercise physiologist (EP) or physiotherapist who will develop an individually tailored, supervised exercise program, provided through the client's DVA Health Card. In order to access these services, the client will need to visit their GP or Local Medical Officer (LMO) and they will need to refer the client to an EP or physiotherapist. If attendance at a gym, pool or other similar facility is required, the cost of this is covered by the EP or physiotherapist as part of the fee paid to them by DVA. The aim of these individual tailored programs is to teach clients safe exercise techniques that they can manage themselves without the need for costly gym equipment. More information about Exercise physiology services or Physiotherapy services is available on the DVA website.

To ensure consistency and a whole of department approach, referral to an EP or physiotherapist should be considered as a viable alternative to funding a time limited gym/pool membership as an activity under a rehabilitation plan.

Support with travel costs

The policy intention behind the gym/pool membership guidelines is that the department will provide short-term targeted support for a finite period, and that the client will then become self-sufficient in managing their own exercise routines. Therefore, as a general rule, if DVA is paying for a short-term membership as part of a rehabilitation plan, clients are expected to cover the costs of travelling to and from the gym or pool. If a DVA Rehabilitation Delegate is concerned that a different approach may be required because of the client’s individual needs and circumstances, they are encouraged to seek policy advice. Any policy advice received must be uploaded as an attachment to the client's R&C ISH case.

Alternatively, if the client is undertaking an individually tailored program, supervised by a physiotherapist or EP, through their DVA Health Card, then the travel for treatment policy guidelines apply. These guidelines can be found in section 9.1.2 of the MRCA Policy Manual or section 90.4 of the DRCA General Handbook.