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Annual Report 2018 - 2019

Programs aim to keep staff healthy and safe at work

OBJECTIVE: A highly capable workforce

Supporting our staff to stay safe and be well

We are committed to the wellbeing of our staff. In early 2019 we launched our new work, health and safety management initiative, Being Well, to support our long-term vision of a healthy workplace that supports staff.

Being Well represents a substantial investment in workplace wellbeing across Legal Aid NSW and has four key components.

  • Health and safety: We create sustainable practices that support a physically safe work environment.
  • Wellbeing: We recognise the need to create a physically and mentally healthy workplace.
  • Flexibility: We rethink where, when and how work should be done in a way that maintains or improves service delivery.
  • engAge: We engage and connect with late-career employees in the workplace and after retirement.

Other key health, safety and wellbeing achievements for 2018–19 included:

  • developing a Workforce Management Practices program to identify reasonably foreseeable risks
  • increasing the frequency of office inspections to twice-annually
  • promoting a positive and proactive approach to mental health through our employee assistance provider (EAP), Benestar – Legal Aid NSW staff have taken advantage of the EAP program at twice the rate of the broader NSW Government sector
  • promoting our Fitness Passport program – almost 400 Legal Aid NSW staff now use this service to stay fit
  • providing reasonable workplace adjustments to 149 employees
  • coordinating support for 44 employees with non-workrelated health matters
  • reviewing the Legal Aid NSW policy on the allocation and viewing of disturbing material, and
  • reviewing the Legal Aid NSW work, health and safety consultation policy.

Addressing the potential for harm through training

Through a series of workshops with lawyers and support staff, we identified risks to staff wellbeing, and engaged specialists to deliver training aimed at minimising those risks.

We developed, and asked all frontline staff to participate in, training in:

  • suicide prevention and unreasonable client conduct, and
  • working with clients affected by drugs, alcohol or mental health issues.

We also identified that staff could benefit from additional, optional training in ways to manage vicarious trauma, becoming an ‘accidental counsellor’, and managing mental health in the legal sector. We identified that managers could benefit from specific training in debriefing.

The first round of mandatory training has been delivered and we are committed to training staff in relation to client interactions in 2019–20.

Mental health first aiders support colleagues across our organisation

We established a mental health peer support program, training 26 mental health first-aid officers to provide informal initial support to employees in the workplace and connect them to formal support. We will continue to roll out this initiative in 2019–20.

Helping staff prepare for retirement

The engAge program, which helps late-career employees prepare for retirement, continues to be adopted by staff. We have engaged RiseSmart, a Randstad company, to facilitate workshops to identify the needs of employees in this stage of their careers and connect them to appropriate support. As flexible work practices are rolled out across the organisation, the engAge program will help staff make more informed decisions about how they work for the remainder of their time with Legal Aid NSW.

Workers compensation claims and associated costs

Nine workers compensation claims were accepted in 2018–19. The total net incurred cost of these claims was $225,046.

  • 84% of accepted claims related to physical injuries, accounting for 27% of claim costs, and
  • 16% of accepted claims related to psychological injuries, accounting for 73% of claim costs.

Workers compensation claims accepted, 2016 to 2019

Type of claimClaims for 2016–17Claims for 2017–18Claims for 2018–19
On duty (for example, at court)211
Recess (authorised break)010
Total claims accepted10139

Work-related illness or injury notifications, 2016 to 2019

Type of injury or incidentReports for 2016–17Reports for 2017–18Reports for 2018–19
On duty (for example, at court)2410
Recess (authorised break)120

Year ahead iconThe year ahead

  • We will consult with staff to identify psychological risks that may arise from areas of their work that are not related to client interactions, and will develop training to address the identified risks for these staff.
  • Being Well will be expanded to include a fifth component, Recover at Work, a holistic safety, health, wellbeing and injury management model.