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Annual Report 2017 - 2018

Workforce diversity and equity

Of 1,203 staff, 178 people told us they are from a multicultural background and 54 people told us that they had a disability.

OBJECTIVE Supporting our people

Creating a disability confident workplace

With the support of our CEO, the Planning and Review Unit and the Australian Network on Disability, we supported the Disability Network, our employee network for staff with a disability.

The Disability Network is a peer support group for Legal Aid NSW staff that allows for dialogue and exploration of issues in a safe environment. It’s a consultative forum to provide a disability perspective to our policies and practices in the organisation.

Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2018-2019

The Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2018-2019 was approved by the Legal Aid NSW Board on 6 March 2018.

The Plan includes two key objectives:

  • A diverse and inclusive workforce; and
  • Services that recognise and respond to the legal and support needs of diverse clients.

The Plan details seven strategic outcomes, as well as indicative actions and timeframes, for achieving those outcomes.

Responsibility for each indicative action has been assigned to the relevant business area, and progress reports will be provided to the Equity and Diversity Committee and Executive each quarter.

Women in the legal profession—equitable briefing

We are a member of the Law Society NSW’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% of all matters and paying 30% of the value of all brief fees to women by 2020. In 2017–2018, the percentage of claims certified for briefs to female barristers was 32%.

OBJECTIVE Excellence in legal services

More opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff

Our Aboriginal Services Branch Business Plan 2017–2018 ensures 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.

We achieved our commitment to increase the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce to 6% of the total Legal Aid NSW workforce. With currently 75 (6.2%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff across Legal Aid NSW, we have reached the previous employment target of 6%. We are continuing to work towards the increased target of 11%.

We commenced the establishment of and mandated priority use of Aboriginal targeted talent pools across Legal Aid NSW. At the time of the report the Aboriginal targeted talent pools were being used regularly.

Opportunities under the Legal Aid NSW Judge Bob Bellear Legal Pathways Career Program are continuing and have expanded. The program consists of the following opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders studying or graduating from Law:

  • Five identified cadetship positions
  • Two identified graduate positions
  • Two identified professional Legal Placement positions and
  • Two identified Aboriginal traineeship positions

The Aboriginal traineeship program was developed as part of the Administrative Review Project, and provides opportunities for (non- legal) entry level positions as part of the Judge Bob Bellear program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Whilst the traineeships do not directly lead to legal qualifications they broaden the scope of the Judge Bob Bellear Program and meet the interests of regional offices and staff within the Aboriginal Staff Network. The program consists of full time work placement, whilst studying towards a Cert III in Business Administration.

In February 2018, two new trainees commenced in the Lismore and Tamworth office as part of the Judge Bob Bellear Legal Pathways Career Program. Legal Aid NSW worked with the Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES) to recruit and on board the Aboriginal trainees. The AES is the only Aboriginal owned and managed Group Training Organisation (GTO) in the country.

We completed recruitment to establish talent pools for:

  • Legal Support Officer
  • Legal Officer Grade I-III
  • Legal Officer Grade IV
  • Judge Bob Bellear cadetship program and Professional Legal Placement

Recruitment was undertaken to fill the vacant Dubbo Aboriginal Field Officer position and also the newly established Community Liaison officer roles in Bourke and Walgett.

New approaches to Talent Pool Recruitment supports the business

As part of our new approach to recruitment, we established an Aboriginal Legal Officer I-III Talent Pool which consists of candidates from each practice area. Although the general capabilities in each practice area are similar, there are differences in required practice area legal knowledge.

Young Professionals Network

On 23 November the CEO launched the Young Professionals Network (YPN). The YPN is a forum for networking and collaboration between young employees, aged under 35, in order to support career development and staff wellbeing in metropolitan and regional locations. It also provides young employees with the opportunity to communication across divisions in order to promote integrated service delivery. The YPN met on a number of occasions and held two events in 2017-2018.