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Annual Report 2016 - 2017

Workforce diversity and equity

Of 1,163 staff, 206 people told us they are from a multicultural background and 60 people told us that they had a disability.

OBJECTIVE Supporting our people

Creating a disability confident workplace

In October 2016, we launched our Workforce Strategy for the Recruitment, Employment and Retention of People with Disability 2016-2018. A large part of the Strategy is the process of becoming accredited by the Australian Network on Disability (AND) as a ‘Disability Confident Recruiter’. This involved assessing our recruitment processes and employment policies and procedures to ensure that we provide a supportive environment for candidates and staff with disability.

Overcoming the barriers faced by people with mental illness

We developed a new training program for staff aimed at addressing some of the barriers people with mental illness experience in accessing legal services and participating in the legal system. Our ‘Overcoming the Barriers’ project will build the capacity of all frontline staff to provide accessible and effective services to people experiencing mental illness. The training package and associated resources were developed in collaboration with peak bodies such as Flourish Australia and One Door Mental Health.

Women in the legal profession—equitable briefing

We signed up to the Law Society’s Charter for the Advancement of Women in the Legal Profession which commits us to introducing initiatives that promote and support women in the profession.

We adopted the Law Council of Australia’s National Model Gender Equitable Briefing Policy, aimed at briefing women in at least 30 per cent of all matters and paying 30 per cent of the value of all brief fees to women by 2020. In 2016–2017, the percentage of claims certified for briefs to female barristers was 30 per cent.

Employing from refugee communities

We recruited a Community Engagement Officer—born in Syria and newly arrived in Australia—in our new Refugee Service as part of the NSW Government commitment to employ 100 refugees across the public sector.

In May 2017, we attended a refugee employment event convened by the Department of Premier and Cabinet to vet potential applicants and to help refugees find work.

More Aboriginal staff are in senior roles

We achieved our commitment to increase the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce to six per cent of the total Legal Aid NSW workforce. There are currently 69 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees at Legal Aid NSW, up from 57 last year.

We increased the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in senior positions and set up Aboriginal-identified talent pools of administrative and legal staff in our legal practices.

Two Aboriginal Staff network meetings were held in November 2016 and June 2017, providing training and team building.

Achievements were guided by the Stand Together: Legal Aid NSW Aboriginal Employment and Career Development Strategy 2015-2018.

OBJECTIVE Excellence in legal services

An inaugural business plan increases our ability to deliver high quality services to Aboriginal clients

In January 2017, the previously named Aboriginal Services Unit was relaunched as the Aboriginal Services Branch. For the first time, the Branch has employed a lawyer to play a role in community legal education, outreach work, representation, law reform and provide mentoring to other Aboriginal lawyers and graduates. This blend of legal expertise with community and cultural knowledge raises our potential to enhance the services we can offer and awareness of the work of Legal Aid NSW with communities and clients.

A planning session in May 2017 resulted in the new Aboriginal Services Branch Business Plan 2017–2018. This plan will ensure Legal Aid NSW meets its obligations under both the Legal Aid NSW Reconciliation Action Plan 2015-2018 and the Stand Together: Legal Aid NSW Aboriginal Employment and Career Development Strategy 2015-2018.

More detailed EEO information appears in Appendix 3 while Appendix 9 has a summary of key performance highlights from the Diversity Action Plan.