Significant lump sum hits bank accounts of rural and remote teachers

During the holidays members of rural and remote schools received their first payments under the new Rural and Remote Incentive packages, negotiated by the union.

Coomealla High School teacher Nisha Francis said: “This new, flexible incentive will go a long way in helping me keep on top of my mortgage while juggling the costs of travel to and from family on the coast. It’s now an easier decision to stay longer.”

Colleague Jackie Watson said: “The new Rural and Remote package is an awesome incentive to live and work in the bush and will go a long way to attract and retain teachers out here in the West.”

Due to the hard work of members in schools and Federation, additional needs-based recurrent funding was gained in 2013 under the then-Gonski agreements to attract and retain teachers in our most difficult to staff schools.

At the time, Federation wrote to the Department requesting it retain some of the funding to allocate to central programs to attract and retain teachers to rural and remote schools. Additional incentives were considered an effective way to close the gap between student outcomes of those in isolated parts of the state and students living in more desirable locations.

Since 2016, Federation has worked with the Department to develop:

  • the Rural Teacher Incentive and Experienced Teacher Benefit (an additional $30,000 to $40,000 per annum)
  • the Rural and Remote Recruitment Bonus ($10,000 once-off payment)
  • the Rural and Remote Retention Benefit ($5000 per annum for 10 years)
  • an Incentive Transfer for Connected Community School executive principals
  • Rural Conversion from Temporary to Permanent Teacher Procedure.

The benefits of the incentives for rural and remote schools have already taken effect, with many teachers in more desirable locations seeking employment in harder to staff locations and/or seeking information regarding the new incentives.

Fiona Kelly at Menindee Central School said: “I expect the new incentives for rural and remote areas such as Menindee will attract and retain more appropriately qualified teaching professionals.

“The incentives are another step towards creating equal opportunities for isolated schools in the choice we have available to appoint qualified teachers in all key learning areas. It is a positive step for towns like Menindee.”

Federation has pursued improvements to the incentives including the inclusion of Non School Based Teachers (NSBT) working in difficult to staff areas.

Curriculum adviser Judith Selby, at the Schools Services Directorate in Broken Hill, said: “The incentives package secured for NSBT in Deniliquin, Moree and Broken Hill has been welcomed by those officers working in rural and remote locations. Before now they’ve not received the conditions afforded their school-based colleagues.

“The decision to extend the incentives to NSBT positions will go a long way to attracting and retaining senior officers experienced in leadership positions in education to support our rural and remote schools.”

Coomealla High School teacher Emily Leon said: “While the Department did not extend the financial incentives to temporary teachers, Federation is campaigning to convert all teachers to permanent status in rural and remote schools.”

Brett Bertalli, Country Organiser