Locality allowances rejected

Brett Bertalli
Country Organiser

Members are advised to contact the Federation if locality allowance applications have been rejected

Teachers who work and reside in locations isolated from goods and services are entitled to the reimbursement of certain expenses to seek medical treatment, but it would appear the Department is now rejecting claims that would have previously been approved.

Federation has fielded an increasing number of complaints from members denied expenses. Members have also raised concerns related to marital status and how the Department processes allowances for members living in de facto relationships or
marriage.

The union has obtained Department emails to individual members that ill-advise teachers and create immense confusion among schools and members.

Federation has written to the Department seeking the guidelines under which the applications have been processed. Upon receipt of the guidelines, Federation will develop advice leaflets on locality allowances and entitlements for members to use.

Members are advised to contact the Federation if locality allowance applications have been rejected.

Frustrating and confusing

One member has described their personal circumstances in these terms:

“Initially I was told that accommodation could be claimed the night before and night of the medical appointment, as long as the claim was accompanied by a Certificate of Attendance or Medical Certificate. We are now having our medical claims rejected unless we provide a referring letter from a GP. I have had only one claim out of six accepted this year. I believe the case now is that this is only provided if teachers have a referral from a medical practitioner to seek treatment from a medical practitioner, which is ludicrous in itself — how many people seek a referral to see a dentist?

“Claims for expenses during vacation periods are also being rejected when they were approved prior to 2015.

“I feel a sense of duty to our students and school and have travelled for the purpose of medical treatment during the vacation period or on weekends to minimise disruption but now the claims are rejected.

“The DEC encourages teachers to seek medical treatment during the vacation period but will not cover out-of-pocket expenses. The whole process is extremely frustrating, confusing and in the case of medical expenses, becoming a violation of privacy.

“By rejecting claims for reimbursement of our medical expenses the DEC is creating a disincentive to work in isolated parts of the state. Teachers will no longer work in rural towns where they do not have access to basic services if travel and accommodation expenses are not reimbursed.”