Ready advice for members facing workplace issues

Dinoo Kelleghan

Workplace issues can be complicated and intricate. The advisers guide members through procedure and process

Federation’s Communications/Welfare section is structured to deliver well-briefed, confidential advice with minimal delay to members seeking help on workplace concerns. Contact the section by phone on 1300 654 367, by fax on (02) 9217 2487 or by email. Here’s how it works:

Who will answer your call?

Incoming calls are handled by five Communications advisers and the Communications/Welfare coordinator who have specialist knowledge of the Award, Determinations, the Teachers Handbook and departmental policy. They have years of experience in guiding members through issues relating to conditions of employment.

The Communications/Welfare section is staffed from 8.30am to 5pm each weekday. If you can’t get through at a peak calling time, email your inquiry straightaway and an adviser will call you.

Last year, the Communications Advisers took 19,678 calls and responded to 3193 emails — a jump of almost 500 emails from the previous year.

Workplace issues can be complicated and intricate. The advisers inform and guide members through procedure and process. They are also aware that even if an issue is a common predicament a member experiencing it for the first time is worried and needs support.

Many members will receive sufficient guidance at this point.

If a matter would benefit from on-the-ground intervention the area Federation Organiser is informed.

If a matter is likely to develop further it will be referred to the Schools or TAFE Duty Officer — or the Welfare Duty Officer. Officers are rostered for these duties.

When are matters allocated to a Welfare Officer?

If a member’s dilemma needs sustained attention, the matter will be put in the hands of one of five Welfare Officers who will provide ongoing advice to the member on matters such as responding to complaints and allegations, child protection matters, workers compensation and Teacher Improvement Programs.

What if I need legal assistance?

A Welfare Officer may recommend in certain matters that a member apply to the General Secretary to request legal assistance. Requests are referred to the Legal Cases Committee and, if endorsed by Federation Executive, are referred to Federation Law.

What can I do to speed matters along?

Email in all relevant documentation such as correspondence from the Department or Workers Compensation insurer before you make the call to Communications/Welfare.

“If something comes in in writing, forward it to us,” said a Welfare Officer. “Don’t wait till you get on the phone. We need to see the documentation anyway, and with the paperwork sent in first we’ll be precisely aware of the formal aspects of the issue when you call in.”

“We realise we are dealing with people’s lives and we need space to give a considered, accurate response when you contact us.”

How to get help

  • Be clear and open
  • Be financial! Members must be financial at both the time of the incident and the call
  • Email in your paperwork before you call