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Do you have to repay the costs of your rehabilitation?

If you have been injured at work, here’s something important that you might not know: if you have received free rehabilitation services from the Commonwealth Government for an injury, you may have to repay the costs of those services IF you receive compensation for that injury.

Specifically, if you have participated in the Disability Management Service offered free by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), the department may require you to repay the costs of the service if you are paid compensation or damages for the injury for which you’re participating in the Disability Management Service.

This obligation is set out under section 23(2) of the Disability Services Act 1986 (DSA).

When will I have to repay cost?

Good examples of when you might have to repay costs include:

  • when you receive money from an insurance company after you have made an insurance claim
  • when you reach an out of court settlement for your compensation or common law claim
  • when a court awards you damages for your disability, injury or health condition.

How much will I have to repay?

The Secretary of DEEWR determines exactly what you to need to repay because it will vary depending on the amount of time you spend in the service. But the maximum amount you will have to repay is $1,760. If you participate in the Disability Management Service for less than six months, the cost will be determined on a pro-rata basis.

How are costs recovered?

The Commonwealth can recover the costs from you or from any party who pays you compensation, or is ordered to pay you damages. The repayment would come from your compensation or damages settlement.

The first step will be to complete a Contact Authority Form, which allows the DEEWR to notify parties involved in a compensation or damages case of their obligations under section 23 of the DSA.

DEEWR will advise you of the actual cost of your Disability Management Service. They will also notify the party you are claiming compensation or damages from and your solicitor. It is important that you consider this cost in your claim for compensation or damages.

It is very important to seek advice from your solicitor about your obligations under section 23 of the DSA.

Can I be refunded or released from liability for my Disability Management Service cost?

There are some special circumstances in which you might be released from your obligations to repay the costs. Generally, special circumstances are cases where the recovery of the costs could lead to, or have led to, extreme financial hardship or an inequitable, unjust, or unreasonable situation.

  • You may apply for a refund or release from liability under special circumstances if DEEWR:
  • has recovered the Disability Management Service cost from your compensation settlement or
  • you have received compensation or damages and DEEWR is intending to recover the cost from you.

How do I apply for special circumstances?

You can obtain an application form at the JobAccess web site under ‘Resources’ then ‘Publications’ or you can request one from the Disability Management Service Recovery team on Freecall 1800 001 894 or email

DEEWR aims to make a decision and advise you of the outcome within 30 days of receiving the complete application form.

Does DEEWR collect information about me?

DEEWR will collect information about you and your circumstances. It can share this information with parties related to your case, but not with third parties without your consent.

Can I make a complaint?

The Complaints Resolution and Referral Service (Freecall 1800 880 052) can assist you with compaints about services provided as part of Disability Management Service and specific complaints about the Disability Services Standards.

As you can see, this is a complicated area, but you are legally required to meet your obligations under section 23 of the DSA. Seeking legal advice is important. GC Law can assist you. Call us today on 1300 302 318.

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