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Annual Report 2015 - 2016

Workforce diversity and equity

Of 1,116 staff, 180 people disclosed they are from a multicultural background and 80 people disclosed disability.

OBJECTIVE Supporting our people

Creating a disability confident workplace

A range of initiatives help to create a disability confident workplace at Legal Aid NSW. We developed the first workforce strategy for recruiting, employing and retaining people with disability. It will be implemented in 2016–2017. A new ‘reasonable adjustment pass’ records approved reasonable adjustments for staff to use across the organisation. We updated the Client Services Security Strategy to include information about people with disability.

We implemented a mentoring program for staff with disability. In collaboration with the Australian Network on Disability (AND), we implemented the PACE mentoring program to improve career opportunities for students and job seekers with disability, and developed guidelines for the mentoring program. We implemented AND’s Stepping Into program for two internships in legal service. We established and publicised the work of the Legal Aid NSW Staff Disability Network to improve workplace outcomes for staff with disability.

We provided a number of diversity-related learning opportunities to our staff to enhance their diversity awareness and confidence. Topics included collecting disability information with confidence; deafness awareness and basic sign language; working effectively with the National Relay Service; and clearer communication. Staff in regional offices attended some of these sessions via webcast or audio-visual link.

We developed an e-learning module on cultural awareness, to be introduced in next year’s staff induction program along with the e-learning module on disability awareness.

The August 2015 edition of the Legal Aid NSW staff newsletter Verbals was dedicated to diversity. Staff’s personal stories showed how Legal Aid NSW upholds diversity, and by doing so, contributes to an inclusive workplace and better client services.

Employing Aboriginal staff

Once again, Legal Aid NSW outperformed the NSW Government benchmark of 2.6% for employing Aboriginal staff. We employ 57 Aboriginal staff, which is 5.1% of our total staff, including 20 practising Aboriginal lawyers across all practice areas.

We launched a new Aboriginal Employment and Career Development Strategy 2015–2018 in October 2015 to increase our Aboriginal workforce to 6% of the total workforce, and the number of Aboriginal staff in ongoing roles and more senior roles. This year, three Aboriginal employees took up senior lawyer positions and a senior administrative role.

Five Aboriginal cadets took part in our Judge Bob Bellear Pathways to Legal Careers Program.

Members of the Aboriginal staff network met twice this year to undertake training and team building.

Aboriginal cultural awareness training was delivered to 189 staff and 85 participants from partner agencies at Legal Aid NSW conferences (See Family law initiatives).

OBJECTIVE Strong partnerships

Staff from Legal Aid NSW, the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Ltd, Community Legal Centres, and their families and friends marched in Sydney as part of the Gay and Lesbian Sydney Mardi Gras Parade on 5 March 2016. Our entry conveyed the theme “Legal assistance under one umbrella” and was a great success in raising awareness about our services.

More detailed EEO information appears in Appendix 2 while Appendix 9 has a summary of key performance highlights from the Diversity Action Plan.

We signed up to a campaign against racism

Legal Aid NSW joined the Racism: It stops with me campaign during National Reconciliation Action Week. The Human Rights Commission campaign is committed to a zero tolerance approach to racism in the workplace.

Legal Aid NSW has launched anti-racism initiatives, including training programs to help people identify and prevent racism in the workplace. The organisation’s code of conduct for employees also reinforces zero tolerance to racism.

In launching this initiative, Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane said, “Racism persists in our justice system and how the law operates…I’m very pleased we have another advocate within the justice system on board…I believe that racism can be eradicated if we all work together.”

Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane and Blues performer, Marlene Cummins were guest speakers at a Legal Aid NSW event pledging zero tolerance towards racism in the workplace.