Legal assistance to members

Kerry Johnson
Welfare Officer

How can members access Federation legal assistance?

Federation has the facility to provide legal assistance to members in relation to matters arising from their employment. There are many conditions that need to be met prior to legal assistance being granted, so members who wish to access this benefit should direct their initial enquiry to the Communications/Welfare section. Phone 1300 654 367, fax (02) 9217 2487, email welfare@nswtf.org.au.

The enquiry will be directed to the Welfare Duty Officer, who will consider and advise on how best to pursue the matter. If legal assistance is deemed appropriate the member will be allocated to one of the five Welfare Officers.

Why do members require legal assistance?

Members most commonly request legal assistance in relation to workers compensation, either where the claim has been declined or in order to pursue a lump sum payout.

Changes to workers compensation legislation in June 2012 have impacted upon the effectiveness of Federation’s provision of legal assistance to members as the changes have removed many benefits that members once received. This is clearly demonstrated by the removal of the ability to make journey claims for accidents travelling to and from work and the restriction of medical and treatment expenses once weekly payments have ceased.

Members also request legal assistance for disciplinary matters such as responding to allegations or making submissions regarding efficiency procedures, victim’s compensation, motor vehicle accident claims, negligence claims and criminal cases arising from their employment.

Am I eligible for legal assistance?

Legal assistance will normally be granted to members if:

  • they are financial members of the NSW Teachers Federation in the appropriate category at the time of the occurrence that prompts the request for legal assistance
  • the assistance requested is to protect the industrial and civil rights of the member and is not connected with disputes arising from private actions, private practice, and private employment
  • the member has followed, and continues to follow the advice of Federation Officers
  • the member agrees to general conditions for legal assistance by signing the relevant documents.

Another consideration is whether or not the member has been or should be referred to the employer to provide legal support in the first instance. In some cases Federation believes it is the responsibility of the Department to protect employees who have complaints made against them while carrying out their duties.

How do members apply?

Members must provide a signed written request for legal assistance. When the request is received by the Welfare Officer, the Assistant to the Secretary, Legal Cases Committee will prepare a file and the matter will be placed on the agenda for the next Legal Cases Committee meeting.

How does the Legal Cases Committee operate?

The Legal Cases Committee is made up of the five Welfare Officers (one of whom acts as the Secretary, Legal Cases Committee each year), four members elected by Council, two members of Executive elected by Executive and the Assistant General Secretary (Research and Industrial).

The Committee meets approximately eight times a year prior to Executive meetings to review requests for legal assistance and make recommendations to Executive for endorsement. If legal assistance is granted the member will be required to sign the Conditions for legal assistance forms and the file will be provided to the solicitors at Federation Law.

The Welfare Officer has the authority and the responsibility to consult with the solicitor regarding issues arising and, if required, arrange for the removal or withdrawal of the assistance based on information provided by the solicitor.

The provision of legal assistance from Federation should not be taken for granted. Serious consideration is given to each and every request to ensure that Federation resources are utilised for the benefit of members.

This is general information. Contact Communications/Welfare on 1300 654 367 if you require specific information relating to your own personal circumstances.