New teachers: How do transfers work?

All teachers are subject to a compulsory transfer system under the Public Service Act. The requirement to accept transfer (within reason) is a condition of service.

Voluntary transfer

Applying for transfer to a rural or remote location gives you some control over where you undertake your country service and your return to a preferred location. Many new teachers undertake away-from-home service early in their career.  However, you must have served three years in your current school before you can apply for a transfer.

Completing away-from-home service

You earn transfer points for every year of service over a 10-year period. Schools are rated level one to level seven and transfer points are allocated according to their remoteness, community services and complexity. Rural and remote schools earn more points (from three to 11 points) than those in metropolitan and provincial centres (between one and two points).  So service in level seven schools in the Cape and Gulf earns 11 points per year for the first two years, the minimum requirement for level seven schools, and 17 points for the third, a total of 39 points.  However, without enough points, you will not be able to return to popular locations like the Sunshine Coast district in the North Coast region.  Last year, primary teachers needed 20 points to transfer there, so a teacher serving in the Cape and Gulf may need to serve three years to be sure, while in a three-point location, they would need seven years or more.

Another option is the Country Area Relieving Scheme (CARS) (teachers on probation are ineligible). Teachers serving in schools with a transfer rating of three and above can:

  • return to their first or second preferred geographic area in their substantive region after the second year of relieving
  • return to the geographic area of their choice in their substantive region after a third year
  • nominate up to 10 preferred school locations in their substantive region after a fourth year.  If no vacancy exists, a similar school in the same location will be negotiated.

Returning before accruing sufficient points for a preferred location
Still nominate your preferred area, because in accepting your second or third choice you will retain your accrued points.  You can then re-apply for your preferred location after a further three years.  However, you will earn points at the lower rate and your higher away-from-home service points will only count for the current 10-year service period.

Caution – you lose all accrued points if you transfer to your first geographic preference.  So teachers accepting first preference placement into a challenging location in the metropolitan fringe to get back to Brisbane risk losing all of their away-from-home service points, must wait three years before any subsequent move and will only earn one or two points a year.


Complete the online application for transfer pro-forma on the portal.   If you wish to serve in a level seven school, you may apply for a position in a “Partners for Success” identified Indigenous school.  Tick the appropriate box on the application form and attach a statement detailing the relevant professional skills, interests and experiences you have. Complete an application for teacher transfer and a “Partners for Success” identified Indigenous schools expression of interest form.

Refusing an unrequested transfer

Under the Public Service Act, you must accept a transfer unless it would cause you “exceptional hardship”. A serious illness or medical condition; access to children; hostility to your sexual orientation, race etc; and separation from a spouse or defacto partner have all been accepted.

For more information, visit One-Portal.

Louise Comino
Industrial/Services Officer

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 117 No 4, 1 June 2012, p29