Needs assessment

Last updated: 
10 January 2020

This page explains what a needs assessment is, when it is normally undertaken, what may be involved in the process and the follow-up activities that may result from the assessment.

What is a needs assessment?

Under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA), everyone entitled to compensation for a service related injury or disease must undergo a ‘needs assessment’ to determine what services and support they may need. Needs assessments are also undertaken for people with coverage under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA).

A needs assessment involves a review of key areas of possible need, including:

  • your medical treatment and health care needs;
  • incapacity payments, if you are not able to work because of your conditions;
  • your rehabilitation needs, including vocational assistance to return to work, medical management assistance to manage treatment and medical goals, and/or psychosocial assistance to overcome any barriers to rehabilitation and to reintegrate into the community or work;
  • whether you require assistance with managing activities of daily living, including household or attendant care services, or aids and appliances to manage daily living independently;
  • assistance to help with your mobility; and
  • permanent impairment assessment and compensation.

When is a needs assessment undertaken?

A needs assessment is undertaken after you have submitted your claim for your service related injury or disease and prior to DVA's acceptance for liability of your claim. You may be a current serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) member, recently separated from the ADF, or have been separated from the ADF for some time. Regardless of your status, the needs assessment process aims to provide an opportunity for DVA to learn about your current circumstances and needs.

If your circumstances change or a review of your needs is required, a subsequent needs assessment may be undertaken at any time. This will help ensure you have access to all your appropriate entitlements and that DVA is aware of all your needs. Future needs assessments may focus on only those areas resulting from any change in your circumstances.

How is a needs assessment undertaken?

When your claim for a service related injury or disease is received, you will be contacted by mail or phone by a designated DVA staff member to explain the needs assessment process, and your related rights and responsibilities. They will prepare for your assessment by spending time reviewing your files and medical reports.

A face-to-face or telephone interview will usually be arranged to complete the assessment process. It is important to note that the person managing the process is aiming to develop a good understanding of your circumstances and needs. In some cases additional information, in particular, medical or allied health input, may be required before a clear assessment can be made and action initiated.

Where urgent needs are identified during the process the delegate has responsibility to deal with these as a priority.

How should you prepare for a needs assessment?

You need to give some thought to the support and services you think will be of assistance to you.

Accurate and current information on your circumstances is essential to ensure a thorough assessment is completed. Where additional information is required, the person conducting the needs assessment may request the material from you, or organise other individuals, professionals or agencies to provide reports or documents.

You may choose to include a support person in your needs assessment interview. This person may be an advocate, carer, parent or guardian.

Can you initiate a needs assessment?

Yes, you may ask for another needs assessment if your circumstances change. For example, if:

  • your medical condition is aggravated;
  • there is a change in diagnosis or treatment required;
  • your medical condition impacts on your employment situation; or
  • you are no longer able to undertake certain tasks at work or at home.

A second or subsequent needs assessment might not involve a full review of all needs, but will focus on your specific concerns.

What happens following a needs assessment?

Where you have identified needs which require immediate attention, the DVA delegate will follow-up on these as a priority.

If you are a serving member you are entitled to raise matters identified in the needs assessment process with your treating doctor, commander or local ADF rehabilitation program contact person. If you are a permanent forces member, or a reservist on continuous full time service, you can access rehabilitation support through the ADF Rehabilitation Program (ADFRP). If you are a part time reservist, you can access rehabilitation support through the Rehabilitation for Reservists (R4R) program.

You can expect to be kept informed of progress with these matters.

Related Form

Complete the rehabilitation and compensation claim checklist for MRCA to make sure you submit everything with your claim.