Sometimes applying for a transfer is just because you need a change.

Whether you are a permanent or fixed term teacher, you need to be aware of the new school transfer and unattaching arrangements the AEU NT has negotiated with the Department, which are now operational.

These new policies and procedures were an agreed outcome of our new enterprise agreement (EA) process finalised in 2018. They represent a significant step forward for schools and teachers and are intended to create:

  • A fair, equitable mechanism for permanent classroom teachers to change workplaces, regardless of region or school;
  • More school-based positions that can be opened up and filled on a permanent basis (via the current Permanency Project or future iterations). 

There is also an advantage in that, potentially, there will always be a small pool of experienced and existing NT teachers who could fill urgent vacancies in a shorter time than advertising and identifying a suitable candidate externally. 

Transfers will fall into categories of priority covering all envisaged needs to move:

  • Guaranteed – remote teachers retain their entitlement to transfer to Darwin, Katherine or Alice Springs after three years;
  • Compassionate – family or personal reasons for needing a change of location;
  • Voluntary, or “school to school” – a wish to move for career or just change purposes.

As at present, it is envisaged that were exporting and importing Principals agree, that will continue to deliver the swiftest outcomes. Other classifications also deserve similar consideration and the AEU NT will seek to expand transfer policy coverage to other employee groups.

The other form of movement that occurs in our system is when a permanent teacher takes a fixed term position either at level or as a temporary promotion. Until now, that person’s substantive, or “owned”, position is kept for them, backfilled indefinitely on a fixed term basis. 

We know of many teachers who have no need or wish to return to that position, so why block the opportunity for someone else to have a permanent job? Going forward, positions will be held open for a maximum of two years. Individuals currently away from their owned positions will be asked their intentions. 

Employees can agree to return to their substantive position after two years, or be placed in the pool of teachers requiring placement in a suitable vacancy, with the freedom to apply for positions you would like to fill.

Senior departmental HR officers are providing information sessions on the new arrangements to senior and corporate managers and to principals. Their acceptance and use of the processes are important in keeping the pool of teachers seeking or needing to move at a manageable size, by accepting suitable teachers into their team or school

 There will be a departmental governance process to ensure there is consistent participation by schools and reviews of the process after six and 12 months from implementation, with the AEU NT able to provide input. 

A good proportion of members want to stay at the workplace they are currently in. Nothing in these new changes weakens their existing tenure. However, for those that need to or just want to move on, they now have a transparent and measured process they can engage in (with help from our office as needed) to improve their personal and family lives or progress their career. 

There are also benefits for fixed term employees and principals that together can contribute to a more stable, happier workforce – which will deliver better outcomes for students in our public schools.

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© Authorised by Rachael Metcalfe, Branch Secretary, Australian Education Union Northern Territory Branch, Darwin (2023)

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