28 March 2014

Indemnity for state employees

A number of principals have raised concerns with the QTU about receiving indemnity from Education Queensland (now called the Office of State Schooling).

We therefore consider it important to advise school leaders of the impact on QTU members of the changes brought about by the commencement of the Public Service and Other Legislation (Civil Liability) Amendment Act 2013 (The Act) on 31 March 2014 (next week).

1.  From 31 March, teachers and principals are no longer at risk of being personally liable in civil proceedings, such as claims for negligence or discrimination complaints.

2.  It is the view of the Union's lawyers, TressCox, that the legislation includes protection from liability for work health and safety prosecution.

Simply put, the effect of the legislation is to protect teachers and principals from any liability for claims such as defamation, negligence and discrimination.  That means parents, students and even other teachers cannot name a teacher or principal personally in any claim.  It also means that the only way the department can claim contribution from a teacher or principal personally is if they have acted in bad faith AND been grossly negligent.  That is a fairly high test.

The QTU is currently finalising a legal brochure on negligence, which should be available on our website (www.qtu.asn.au) soon.

TressCox Lawyers

The QTU retains TressCox Lawyers to provide representation for its members, a law firm that has been involved in every piece of current legislation and every change to legislation in education, the public sector, workers compensation, teacher registration, QCAT and child protection through submissions to Parliament and appearance at Parliamentary inquiries.

  • Andrew Knott, Special Counsel, acting for teachers for over 40 years
  • Rachel Drew, Partner, acting for teachers since 2000.

Our lawyers represent all teacher union members in both the public and private sector in Queensland.

How do I apply for legal assistance

The Union requires a written request for legal assistance (email, fax, letter).  However, urgent requests will be dealt with initially by telephone. If you are unsure of whether you need legal assistance, contact the QTU. Many questions and issues can be addressed initially by the appropriate Union Officer.

 Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union