Fixed-termers become ongoing at RCH

Recently, Psychologist members in the Royal Children’s Hospital Children’s Cancer Centre approached the union with concerns about the future of their service.

The members provide a valuable counselling service for the families of children with cancer and have done so for many years. Their funding has mainly come from philanthropic sources, however, a major donor had recently been in the press indicating that they would not be continuing their support to the same level.

Naturally, our members were concerned for the future of services for their clients but they were also unsure what would happen to them. Would funding be found? Would they lose their jobs? What would happen if they lost their jobs?

Through discussions with their union, we discovered that most had been employed on fixed-term contracts through the years that were rolled over, with the excuse from RCH being that funding is uncertain in the future. However, the rollovers of these contracts did not always happen before the previous contract expired. In our view, this doesn’t meet the standards in our public sector agreement.

The public sector agreement is very clear about when fixed-term contracts can be used. Clause 13 states:

“Fixed term contracts will only be used for true fixed term arrangements, including special projects, post graduate training, graduate year positions, maternity and long service leave relief.”

Regular rolling over of contracts because of “uncertainty” doesn’t fit with our interpretation of appropriate fixed-term employment.

But, equally importantly, you can’t employ a person on a fixed-term basis where there are gaps between the expiry date of an old contract and the offering of a new contract. When this happens, and your employment and pay continues, you become ongoing.
Fortunately the result of union involvement at the RCH Children’s Cancer Centre has been a good one for our members.

Funding has been found to continue the service into the future

Our members are now ongoing so they don’t need to worry about being offered contracts into the future and, if their jobs go, they’ve now got an entitlement for redundancy.

Are you a fixed-term employee? Has this been going on for years? Are there gaps between contracts?

You too may have a case for ongoing employment contact the union on 9623 9623 or at

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