RAIS review update
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 2, 9 March 2018, p16
A key achievement of the 2016 enterprise bargaining agreement was the formalising of the commitment to a review of the Remote Area Incentives Scheme (RAIS).
Supporting teachers and school leaders working in remote and rural Queensland remains central to the work of the Union. It is and has been the activism of teachers and principals as unionists that has secured incentives, including financial compensation for living and working in rural and remote communities, to encourage our colleagues to stay beyond the minimum service period.
The QTU’s work on the Rural and Remote Incentives Review (RRIR) Reference Group (July 2017) pursued a broadening of the list of centres to be included and determined the importance of ensuring that there was a balance of centres. The Union also rejected a proposal that only some teachers in the identified centres would be involved. The QTU’s position was that all teachers in the location had to be part of the trial so that a thorough picture could be gained. As well as these matters, the QTU also noted in formal correspondence in early October 2017 that a full list of incentives and costing had not been included in proposals. The QTU communicated with the department that this was unacceptable and more details were needed.
QTU Deputy General Secretary Kate Ruttiman reported on the review to the November State Council. As well as the above, the QTU had ensured that the compensation and incentive payments would be kept separate. The Union supported unused funds in the compensation account being transferred into the incentive account for use on incentives at the end of the year. The QTU also advocated for the timing of incentive payments to be more flexible as a result of strong feedback from members. Further incentives were investigated as a part of the trial, however costings revealed that these would exceed the budget allocation at this time. The QTU has and will continue to pursue increases in the RAIS budget as part of budget submissions to government.
The list of trial schools includes 11 schools in Alcohol Management Plan (AMP) locations, as well as a further 21 schools with transfer rating TR4-TR7. Despite strong and ongoing QTU advocacy, no Torres Strait schools have been included in the trial. The Executive has determined that the QTU will continue to pursue options to ensure the inclusion of Torres Strait schools in a RAIS trial so that accurate data can be captured.
As of February, the department has written to principals and teachers in 32 trial schools indicating that they have been selected to participate in the trialling of a new self-service incentive portal for teachers in identified schools. The trial is for one year. The incentive portal model is aimed at giving more agency and flexibility to teachers in relation to selecting how they would like to receive their rural and remote incentives.
The correspondence to trial participants noted that:
The incentives portal includes a greater range of incentives and benefits and provides more flexibility around how these may be received including:
- greater choice about payment frequency
- fuel expense reimbursements
- travel reimbursements
- freight expense reimbursements
- memberships to sports and health clubs
- priority access to departmental (QELi) courses
- ability to apply for subsidy for Master of Education studies
- support for teachers to access their RAIS leave days.
Additionally, teachers working in alcohol management (AMP) communities will be able to claim rent and electricity expenses through salary deduction or reimbursements. This delivers on the department’s written commitment to deliver some differentiated incentives for teachers employed in AMP communities.
The reference group, with strong QTU representation on it, will actively monitor the implementation and provide feedback.
Assistant Secretary (Services)