More improvements to continuing education allowance

Increase from 1 December, more courses now qualify

The continuing education allowance for public hospital nurses has gone up and more nurses are now entitled to receive it.

The NSW Nurses’ Association won a decision in the State Industrial Commission in February 2007 increasing the monetary level of the allowances and extending payments of the allowances to thousands of nurses with hospital-based post-registration qualifications.

They include nurses in specialities such as midwifery, mental health, operating theatres and intensive care.

These nurses, and thousands more who got the allowance before 26 February because they hold post-registration qualifications from a university, all benefit from the increases applying from 1 December.

The allowance increased from the first pay period on or after 1 December 2007. And more training courses have been made eligible for the allowance, meaning nurses whose hospital-based qualifications have now been approved will be entitled to back pay from 1 March 2007.

Following the 1 December increase, allowances now range from $18 per week (Enrolled Nurse Certificate 1V or equivalent) to $47.50 per week (Master’s Degree/PhD). All allowances will go up again from 1 September 2008 (see box bellow).

More courses were recently declared eligible for the allowance.

The College of Nursing has provided the Association with the details necessary to include substantial numbers of their courses in the list of those eligible to attract a CEA payment.

If you meet the criteria of working in a relevant clinical area, you can apply for back pay of your allowance as follows:

  • qualification assessed as equivalent to hospital certificate (1991–2001 courses), from March 2007 (the date these certificates became eligible);
  • qualification assessed as equivalent to postgraduate certificate (2002 onwards courses), from December 2004 (the date the original allowances were won).

If you worked in a relevant clinical area for a part but not all of this period, you should claim payment for the part period.
NSWNA Assistant General Secretary, Judith Kiejda, said members who have had their applications for the allowance rejected, should check the newly-updated lists of eligible courses.

‘If you are still in doubt about whether you qualify, phone the NSWNA for advice,’ Judith said.

‘The extension of the allowance to hospital-based, post-registration qualifications was a major breakthrough for thousands of experienced nurses who got their qualifications before university-based training came in.

‘Many of these nurses are now in leading clinical positions yet until the union’s successful case in the Industrial Commission they were denied financial recognition while nurses with more recent qualifications were rewarded simply because they went to university.’

For a list of the newly-eligible courses for the continuing education allowance, please see page 34

Allowances up from December 2007

All continuing education allowances will increase, effective from your first pay period in December 2007. This is a continuation of the phased increases won in February 2007 – they will further increase in September 2008.

The new weekly rates are:

Qualification Current rate ($) From 1st pay period on or after 1 Dec ‘07 ($) From 1st pay period on or after 1 Sept ‘08 ($)
Hospital Certificate 15.00 22.50 30.00
Postgraduate Certificate 20.00 25.00 30.00
Postgraduate Diploma / Degree 32.00 38.50 45.00
Masters Degree / PhD 40.00 47.50 55.00
EN Cert. IV or equivalent 14.00 18.00 22.50

Vox pops:
’It’s good to recognised for extra study’

Jason Crisp, RN, Bloomfield Hospital, Orange, says the improvements demonstrate the profession is looking after those who do more study to further their careers and advance their skills. Jason has a graduate certificate in mental health nursing, which he finished in 1998. ‘The allowance is wonderful. It helps bring best practice into workplaces. The graduate certificate was a starting point for me. It led to other certificates. Then I did a Masters. It was like the first step in a longer journey.’

Clare Waite, CNS, Haematology at RPA, says improvements to the Continuing Education Allowance are a good incentive to keep abreast of best practice. Clare has a Diploma in Advanced Cancer Care nursing, which she finished in 2005. ‘The diploma broadened my knowledge base in general but also honed areas specific to my work. It’s good to be recognised as well as getting the extra money. It’s not a highly-paid profession so any extra money is handy.‘