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Annual Report 2016 - 2017

Senior directors

"Our senior management team is diverse and highly experienced, each director contributing to the strength of our organisation and helping to achieve our goals."

Brendan Thomas


Chief Executive Officer, (Band 3)
(22 May–30 June 2017)

Budget total: $291.6M
Total staff (FTE): 1,058.79
Total actual: 1,163

Appointed by the NSW Attorney General, Brendan commenced in his role as Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid NSW on 22 May 2017.

Brendan’s biography appears in Board members.

One of Brendan’s first commitments as CEO of Legal Aid NSW was to visit each regional office and also to meet with staff in the city office.

In his first six weeks (before the end of the financial year) with Legal Aid NSW, Brendan visited several regional offices to obtain a clear picture of the important work regional offices are doing for their local communities. Staff welcomed the opportunity to share their ideas about service delivery and make suggestions for change. Brendan found the personal insights of frontline staff invaluable and was impressed by the volume and range of work across the organisation.

Staff ideas about efficiency measures complement reviews the CEO has scheduled, including a review of the efficiency of our grants processes, commencing in July 2017. Brendan has also initiated a review of corporate and decision-making structures to develop a more outcome-focused performance system.

Richard Funston

BCom LLB EMPA, Accredited Criminal Law Specialist

Deputy Chief Executive Officer, (Band 2)

Budget total: $179.9M
Total staff (FTE): 852.76
Total actual: 946

During his 20 years with Legal Aid NSW, Richard has held leadership roles across the organisation including Solicitor in Charge of the Children’s Legal Service, Director Grants, Director Strategic Planning, Policy and Community Partnerships, Director Criminal Law and Acting Chief Executive Officer. Richard’s previous experience includes eight years with Victoria Legal Aid and four years as Principal Solicitor of the Inner City Legal Centre in New South Wales.

Richard’s key achievements this year include participating in criminal justice reform initiatives, offering staff more opportunities for coaching and professional development, and overseeing a new Community Legal Education Branch.

In his role as Chair of the Workplace Behaviour and Ethics committee, Richard promoted the People Matters Employee Survey findings and championed an expanded on-site employee assistance program.

Richard also chaired the Legal Aid NSW Reconciliation Action Plan Implementation Working Group, and the NSW Legal Assistance Forum Plenary Group.

He is the new Legal Aid NSW Disability Champion and the Chief Audit Executive of the Legal Aid NSW Audit and Risk Committee.

Richard acted as CEO from 5 December 2016 to 19 May 2017.

Annmarie Lumsden

BA LLB Dip Bus EMPA, Accredited Criminal Law Specialist

Director, Criminal Law, (Band 1)

Budget total: $91.1M
Total staff (FTE): 276.55
Total actual: 304

During her 19 years with Legal Aid NSW, Annmarie has held leadership positions across the organisation, including as a Solicitor Advocate in the Criminal Law Division, Executive Officer to the CEO, Director Grants, acting Director Family Law and Director Strategic Policy and Planning and Community Partnerships. She has previous experience in government and private practice.

Annmarie was elected to the Council of the Law Society of NSW in 2014. This year she is Chair of the Law Society Criminal Law Committee and Children’s Legal Issues Committee, and Deputy Chair of the Government Solicitors Committee. She is the Law Society nominee on the Children’s Court Advisory Committee.

This year, Annmarie chaired the Crime and Grants subcommittee of the Legal Aid NSW Board which undertook a review of Legal Aid NSW criminal appeals policy, and has collaborated with the justice cluster to develop and implement reforms and initiatives to reduce the District Court trial backlog.

Annmarie acted as Deputy CEO from 20 February 2016 to 19 May 2017.

Kylie Beckhouse

BA LLB, Accredited Family Law Specialist

Director, Family Law, (Band 1)

Budget total: $54.2M
Total staff (FTE): 210.61
Total actual: 235

Kylie has specialised in family law for over 24 years and is both an accredited specialist in family law and an independent children's lawyer.

She was appointed Director Family Law in May 2009 and in this role has been responsible for many innovations in the delivery of family law services.

She is a member of the NSW Children's Court Advisory Committee, Family Courts Children’s Committee, Family Courts Self Represented Litigant’s Committee, Law Society of NSW's Family Law Issues and Children’s Committees and National Legal Aid’s Family Law working group. She served on the Family Law Council of Australia from 2011 to 2016. In 2015, she was awarded a Churchill Medallion in recognition of her completion of a Churchill Fellowship to investigate the administration of child legal representation schemes in overseas jurisdictions.

Her major achievement this year was establishing new domestic violence services (the Family Advocacy and Support Service) in Family Law Court registries across Australia.

Kylie acted as Deputy CEO from 19 December 2016 to 17 February 2017

Monique Hitter

BSW Dip Law

Director, Civil Law, (Band 1)

Budget total: $21.1M
Total staff (FTE): 181.70
Total actual: 195

Monique has worked as a lawyer since 1997 in the community, government and private sectors.

Monique developed the model for the Cooperative Legal Services Delivery Program and managed its pilot in 2004. It is now implemented in many regions across New South Wales.

Monique has been the Director of the Civil Law Division since July 2007. She is also a member of the Women's Advisory Council for Corrective Services NSW.

This year, Monique established a Refugee Service in South-western Sydney, and expanded the Government Law Program to provide more services to newly arrived refugees and people in dispute with the National Disability Insurance Agency.

Monique has also driven expansion of civil law services to Aboriginal communities.

Wayne Gale

BA (Computing) MCom (Accounting)

Director, Information and Communications Technology, (Band 1)

Budget total: $3.0M
Total staff (FTE): 34.61
Total actual: 37

Wayne was appointed to his position in January 2007.

Wayne's career in information technology spans 30 years, including senior roles both in the private sector providing information technology services and solutions to Government, as well as working directly in the government sector.

This year, Wayne’s achievements included implementing improvements to our Information and Communication Technologies operating model, delivering a range of digital initiatives linked to our Client Service Strategy, and leading the deployment of new technology to our mobile workforce.

Mary Whitehead

BA (Hons), LLB (Hons), G Cert Pub Sec Mgmt, Accredited Family Law Specialist

Director, Grants, (Band 1)

Budget total: $6.3M
Total staff (FTE): 73.90
Total actual: 77

Mary was appointed Director of Grants in 2012. Working for Legal Aid NSW for 26 years, Mary has held senior positions in the in-house practice, Grants and in policy and project areas. She established the Child Support Service and implemented the ATLAS grants management system.

This year, Mary launched an online legal aid application form to enable clients who cannot readily attend our offices to apply for legal aid online. She introduced plain English grants letters to improve client service, revised requirements for the specialist Domestic Violence Panel, and oversaw

Vicki Leaver


Director, People and Organisational Development (Human Resources), (Band 1)

Budget total: $2.0M
Total staff (FTE): 22.90
Total actual: 24

Vicki was appointed as the Director, People and Organisational Development in July 2011.

This year, Vicki and her team focused on the wellbeing of managers and staff. They supported a number of initiatives including:

  • a health, wellbeing and safety strategy
  • a new online safety system—capturing and addressing workplace risks
  • wellbeing programs such as Get healthy@work, Fitness passport and sit/stand portable desks
  • a workplace standards package.

Vicki led the team in rolling out workforce planning and continues to support the adoption of Individual Planning across Legal Aid NSW.

Vicki chairs the Business Continuity Management Committee and is a member of several organisational committees: Reconciliation Action Plan, Equity and Diversity and the Peak Consultative Committee.

Vicki will complete the ANZSOG Executive Masters in Public Administration next year.

Jane Cipants

BSW M Social Policy EMPA

Director Client Service, (Band 1)

Budget total: $1.0M
Total staff (FTE): 16.22
Total actual: 17

Jane commenced in the new position of Director Client Service in September 2016. Over her seven years with Legal Aid NSW, Jane has held various roles including Manager, Legal Service Development. Jane began her career as a social worker in the mental health sector, and then spent 20 years in research and management in the public legal assistance sector.

In her first year in the role, Jane has established the new Client Service Unit to drive the implementation of the Client Service Strategy 2016–2020. Jane’s new team has worked with the Executive to prioritise and manage the program of work under the strategy.

Achievements for 2016–2017 include:

  • a client satisfaction survey of 700 clients with an in-house grant
  • new client-centred projects: the roll-out of client computers, client communications and physical design of offices
  • complaints handling reform to improve our services
  • starting a significant review of the legal advice model.

Sue Scott

BA, Diploma of Information Management, Master of Education (Hons), Diploma of Legal Studies

Director Client and Case Management, (Band 1)

Project budget total: $0.6M
Total staff (FTE): 3.80
Total actual: 4

Sue was appointed to this role in October 2016.

Before this, Sue was the Executive Officer to the CEO and led a number of projects, including reshaping the Legal Aid NSW website and developing a client service strategy.

Before joining Legal Aid NSW, Sue was the Assistant Director at the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW where she researched and implemented several initiatives to improve online access to the law.

Sue is leading a team to implement a new client and case management system for Legal Aid NSW.

In this role, Sue and her team have consulted widely with staff to develop a set of prioritised requirements and wireframes for the new system. Three vendors were selected to engage in a Proof of Concept to demonstrate how their system met these requirements. A vendor will be selected in 2017–2018.

Barry O’Loughlin

B Fin Admin FCPA

Director Finance and Facilities, (Band 1)

Budget total: $291.6M
Total staff (FTE): 21.20
Total actual: 22

Barry was appointed as the Director Finance and Facilities in November 2016.

Barry’s career in Finance spans 35 years in both public and private sectors. Before joining Legal Aid NSW, he held senior finance positions in the Education and Industry Clusters.

This year, Barry strengthened the Legal Aid NSW balance sheet through the transfer of superannuation and long service leave liabilities to NSW Treasury. He finalised the integration of the Finance and Facilities units into a single team.

Barry participated in the District Court trial backlog and of early appropriate guilty plea reforms.

Gaby Carney


Director, Strategic Planning, Policy and Community Partnerships, (Band 1)

Budget total: $44.6M
Total staff (FTE): 37.20
Total actual: 40

Gaby was appointed to this position in March 2017.

Gaby has experience in legal practice, law reform and legal policy. She has previously worked in various positions, including in private practice, the Australian Law Reform Commission, the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, as Assistant Director of the then Justice Policy at the NSW Department of Justice, and as the Director of Policy and Practice at the Law Society of NSW.

Since starting at Legal Aid NSW, Gaby has overseen work on a range of matters across her portfolio, including the preparation of law reform submissions, in-house counsel and legal aid policy development, and operations of the Community Legal Centres Program, Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program and Cooperative Legal Service Delivery Program.

She also had oversight of the preparation of the Legal Aid NSW Plan for 2017–2018, equity and diversity coordination within Legal Aid NSW, and strategic planning for the organisation.

Retiring senior directors

"Bill and Steve were champions of Legal Aid NSW and were held in the highest regard by the Board."
Chair, Craig Smith

Bill Grant, CEO

Bill retired as CEO of Legal Aid NSW in December 2017. Bill’s leadership was inspirational and he left a bountiful legacy. You can read more about Bill in Board Members and sadly in Professional and personal achievements where a short eulogy appears due to Bill’s passing not long after retirement.

Steve O’Connor, Deputy CEO

Steve has been Deputy CEO since 2003 (with an absence in 2011-2012), and retired in December 2016. Steve was also the Chief Audit Executive for Legal Aid NSW since 2012. He was an active member of the Equity and Diversity Committee and for the last two years—the Disability Champion.

Steve was the driving force behind Activity Based Costing, a critical project measuring time our lawyers spend delivering legal services. At the time of his retirement, compliance across practice areas had risen to 96 per cent.

Right up to retirement, Steve enthusiastically championed the important issues of legal support officers, office managers, corporate service areas and legal practices.

Chair of Legal Aid NSW, Craig Smith with Steve O'Connor (left) at a farewell function that celebrated Steve’s dedicated service to Legal Aid NSW.