District allowance - frequently asked questions

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Public sector employers

The following are frequently asked questions regarding District Allowance.

What is district allowance?

District Allowance (DA) is paid to public sector employees as compensation for the disadvantages associated with working in regional Western Australia.

Where does district allowance come from?

District Allowance (DA) is provided for under the District Allowance (Government Officers) General Agreement 2010 and the District Allowance (Government Wages Employees) General Agreement 2010 (the Agreements). The Agreements can be found on the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission website.

Current DA rates are published via Circulars to Departments and Authorities available on the Department of Commerce website.

What is the methodology for calculating district allowance?

The Agreements provide a robust methodology for the annual calculation of District Allowance (DA) based on three different factors – cost of living, climate and isolation.

Cost of living

The cost of living component is affected by movements in the:

  • Regional Price Index; and
  • Level 1.1 salary under the Public Service and Government Officers General Agreement.

The methodology allows for the rise and fall in DA rates to reflect changes in the cost of living. This was supported by Government and public sector unions during agreement negotiations in 2010.

Isolation and climate

The isolation and climate components are adjusted by movements in the annual Perth Consumer Price Index (March to March) as published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

What is the Regional Price Index?

The Regional Price Index (RPI) is determined through a survey of large regional centres and selected towns throughout regional Western Australia.  The RPI survey is conducted every two years and published by the Department of Regional Development.

The survey compares the price of a basket of goods and services in regional Western Australia with the same basket of goods in Perth. The basket includes over 500 goods and services including food, clothing, housing costs, health and personal care and transport.

Further information about the RPI can be found on the Department of Regional Development website.

What impact did the 2013 Regional Price Index have on district allowance rates?

The 2013 Regional Price Index (RPI) revealed significant reductions in cost of living pressures across a number of regional areas – most notably in northern Western Australia.  This has led  to a reduction in District Allowance (DA) rates for 2013 in some areas.

Employees located in Broome, Carnarvon, Geraldton, and the Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions (outside the exclusion zones) have received a higher DA payment to reflect increases in cost of living in those areas.

How is Government managing the impact of changes to district allowance rates on public sector employees?

Given the significant District Allowance (DA) reductions for some areas, the Government determined a two-year transitional arrangement to ensure employees have sufficient time to make the necessary adjustments.

The transitional arrangements are as follows:

  1. DA increases – employees have had the increase backdated to 1 July 2013 as required by the Agreements;
  2. DA decreases of less than $50 a week – employees to remain on the 2012 DA rates until 30 June 2014, with normalisation of DA rates on and from 1 July 2014; and
  3. DA decreases of more than $50 a week – employees to remain on the 2012 DA rates until 30 June 2014. The reduction is to be phased in over two stages:
    1. a 50 per cent reduction of the difference between the 2012 and 2013 rates to be applied on and from 1 July 2014, and
    2. normalisation of DA rates on and from 1 July 2015.

Current DA rates are published via Circulars to Departments and Authorities available at www.commerce.wa.gov.au.

What happens to employees who are eligible for a allowance increase from 1 July 2013?

The employees are entitled to have the increase paid from 1 July 2013.

This applies to employees in Broome, Carnarvon, Geraldton, Esperance, Wheatbelt and Great Southern.  Employees that left an agency after 1 July 2013 are also entitled to the increase paid from 1 July 2013.

 

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