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Disability Maintenance Instrument: Frequently Asked Questions



An introduction to the DMI

What is the DMI?

In the 2002/2003 Federal budget, the Commonwealth Government announced significant disability service reforms. These reforms included a commitment to replace block funding arrangements with case based funding. Case based funding is:

'a fee-for-service arrangement where fees are paid to providers to assist job seekers with disabilities to find and keep employment, and the fees are based on the job seekers' support needs and their employment outcomes.'

Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services, Factsheet, Budget 2003/2004$file/wnwd_a1overview.pdf)

In other words, the funding that providers (such as business services) receive is determined by the support needs of the clients they are assisting, on a 'case-bycase' basis. So, in the move to case based funding a new administration tool was required – a tool that would somehow measure the 'support needs' of a client, and match this with an appropriate level of funding.

After extensive research, consultation, field testing and review, the Disability Maintenance Instrument (DMI) was developed. It's a computer-based administration tool that's designed to:

  1. assess the amount of support a client requires to keep employment
  2. translate this assessment into a funding level.

How does the DMI work?

Basically, the DMI is like a questionnaire. There are nine parts (domains) to the questionnaire – each focusing on a specific behavioural or functional area where a client may require assistance (for example, Vocational Assistance, Communication Abilities, Social and Behavioural Assistance).

Within each of the domains is a series of questions (assessment items). Each question covers a specific task or functional area that may affect the level of assistance a client may require.

The questions (assessment items) collect data on the level of assistance required by using a rating system. Each question (assessment item) has a corresponding rating category – a rating must be selected for each question (assessment item), based on the evidence that is collected about the client over the previous three months.

Disability Maintenance Instrument questionnaire diagram

Rating category Description
No assistance provided Worker consistently achieved this with no prompts, reminders, counselling or other support during the past three months
Some assistance provided Worker required up to three or four prompts, reminders, or brief (for example, up to 10 minutes duration) counselling or role modelling sessions during the past three months
Moderate level of assistance provided On average worker required weekly prompts, reminders, counselling or role modelling sessions during the past three months
High level of assistance provided Worker required frequent (for example, daily) prompts, reminders, counselling and/or other support during the past three months

There are 126 questions (assessment items) in the DMI. When they have all been answered, a total 'score' is automatically generated using a computer program. This score is designed to reflect the level of assistance a client requires – the higher the score, the greater the level of assistance required.

The final DMI score translates into one of four funding levels – and this is what the provider will receive to support the client in maintaining their employment. Level 1 is the lowest funding level and Level 4 is the highest.

Figure 1: The first part of the DMI is client certification.

Figure 1: The first part of the DMI is client certification

How do I access the DMI?

The only way you can create and submit a client's DMI is online, via the FaCS Online Funding Management System (FOFMS). FOFMS is an online system, used by the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) to manage funding arrangements with service providers.

Figure 2: Only authorised personnel have access to the DMI, via FOFMS.

Figure 2: Only authorised personnel have access to the DMI, via FOFMS

Only approved service providers, such as business services, have access to FOFMS – it cannot be accessed by the general public. In addition, only authorised personnel within business services can log on to the system. That's because FOFMS and administration tools such as the DMI contain sensitive information about clients. If you are authorised to access FOFMS, it's important your login and password are never shared.

Who's responsible for managing the DMI in a business service?

The answer to this question depends on the systems used in your organisation. In a larger organisation there may be two or three people responsible for managing the DMI, but in a smaller organisation there may be only one person.

The previous question mentioned that only authorised personnel can access FOFMS and the DMI. In fact, there are two levels of authorised access on the DMI. They are:

DMI Creator

DMI Creator is the basic access level. People with DMI Creator access can:

DMI Authorising Officer

The DMI Authorising Officer has a greater level of access. They can perform all of the functions of the DMI Creator, but are also responsible for:

A DMI Authorising Officer can also delete a DMI, if required.

In smaller organisations, one person may be both DMI Creator and DMI Authorising Officer. However, where possible, it's recommended that these roles remain separated. This will go some way to ensuring assessment decisions and data entry are properly checked prior to submission.

Do all clients need a DMI?

Under the Programme Procedures, a DMI can only be completed once a client obtains an 'employment outcome'. A client will then have a DMI reassessment every two years.

An employment outcome is defined as:

'… employment for at least 8 hours per week for at least 13 weeks.'

Clause 17, Standard Terms and Conditions of Funding

This means you cannot complete and authorise a DMI until a minimum of 13 weeks after the client commenced receiving FaCSIA funded assistance from your business service. The commencement date is taken from the Intake Completion Date recorded in FOFMS.

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