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2019–20 annual report objective 3. Build on our business capability and sustainability

Our people

Workforce strategy

The Workforce Strategy 2020–23 supports achieving Legal Aid Queensland’s vision to be a great place to work where our people are respected, valued, safe and supported. The workforce strategy outlines three areas of focus—people, culture and capability. We embrace diversity, flexibility, learning and continuous improvement to deliver quality legal services.

Our Workforce Strategy is aligned to our strategic and operational plans as well as relevant Queensland Government frameworks including:

  • 10 Year Human Capital Outlook
  • Leadership Competencies for Queensland
  • Be Healthy, Be Safe, Be Well Framework
  • Multicultural Action Plan.

The strategy is supported by the Workforce Action Plan 2020–21, which outlines the initiatives to be undertaken during the year in response to feedback from the Working for Queensland Employee Opinion Survey. During the year, we made progress in implementing initiatives from the Workforce Action Plan 2020–21. In particular, we focussed on embedding the new approach to flexible work following the return to workplaces after COVID-19 lockdowns. This included continued training for managers on leading remote teams and enhanced support for employees using technology for remote working.

Learning and development

We continued to provide our in-house CPD program during 2020–21. Most sessions are open to all staff, as well as law firms that provide legal aid services, CLCs and the ATSILS. Sessions returned to face-to-face when COVID-19 restrictions eased and sessions continued to be available via videoconferencing, webinar or recording. Our program aims to ensure our lawyers and those that provide legal aid services are up to date with the latest legislation changes and have the opportunity to develop their professional skills and legal knowledge. The program allows legal staff to earn CPD points, which are needed to renew practising certificates each year.

During the year, we also developed and implemented a Grants Training Framework to expand our ability to provide online training to Grants staff across our Brisbane and regional offices and increase operational capacity.

Other development opportunities for staff included:

Conferences and intensives

  • Criminal law duty lawyer conference
  • Regional principal lawyer conference
  • Youth practitioner certification training
  • Continuing professional development program

Cultural competency program

  • Cultural awareness
  • Cultural competency

Psychological wellness training program

  • Vicarious trauma
  • Responding to threats of harm
  • Managing aggressive client behaviour
  • Understanding addiction and substance abuse
  • Sustaining resilience

Essential skills

  • Induction training for all new staff
  • Human rights
  • Good decisions
  • Computer systems, including in-house systems
  • Library and research
  • Communication skills
  • Applying for jobs
  • Train the trainer workshops
  • Change management
  • Effective planning and time management
  • Work, health and safety

Leadership pathways program

  • New managers course
  • Leading remote teams
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Supervision and feedback
  • Transitioning to management
  • Corporate skills for new managers
  • Navigating uncertainty and complexity

Staff have access to the Study and Research Assistance Scheme and the Certified Agreement training initiatives, which provide funds for higher educational requirements. Staff can also access external training and conferences for individual development needs.

We also provided staff with face-to-face and online e-learning opportunities to familiarise them with our policies and procedures, and to develop their skills and knowledge. Most in-house training is regularly reviewed by staff evaluations and improvements are made where appropriate and in conjunction with the facilitator.

Attracting and retaining staff

We focus on supporting our staff’s wellbeing. We offer various forms of flexible working options, including accessing accrued time leave, working part time, job sharing, remote working and purchased leave arrangements.

We have implemented strategies to help our staff effectively manage the possible psychological impacts of their work. We are particularly aware our lawyers, grants officers and support staff are routinely involved in work that is confronting and stressful, which puts them at risk of suffering vicarious trauma. These risks were addressed by arranging workshops on managing the psychological impacts of practising law and managing aggressive client behaviour. We also provided staff with information about support networks and self-help strategies, and access to confidential counselling services (see Figure 11 for staff absenteeism and turnover rates).

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Figure 11. Staff absenteeism and turnover

Graduate recruitment program

Graduate lawyers continued on the graduate program during 2020–21. We had six graduates in regional and Brisbane centres—three graduates identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders.

Workplace composition (full-time equivalents)

At 30 June 2021, Legal Aid Queensland had 567.72 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees working in 14 centres throughout the state (see Figures 12 and 13 for more information).

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Figure 12. Actual staff by employment type (by FTE) 2020–21

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Figure 13. Staff age profile (by headcount) 2020–21

Equal employment opportunity

We are committed to equal employment opportunity (EEO) principles and have successfully implemented these principles across the organisation. Our EEO statistics highlight our commitment to equitable recruitment, selection and promotion policies (see Figure 14 for more information).

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Figure 14. Equal employment opportunity target group membership 2020–21

Measuring staff engagement

We continue to participate in the whole-of-government Working for Queensland Employee Opinion Survey. Our results in 2020 were very positive compared with the wider Queensland public sector. Eighty percent of staff completed the survey, with 80 percent of those who responded reporting high levels of engagement. Seventy-nine percent of staff indicated they engage in flexible work.

The feedback we received from the survey was invaluable in identifying areas for improvement and we will continue to implement changes in response to the survey feedback. The next survey will be conducted in September 2021.

Code of conduct

Legal Aid Queensland is covered by a whole-of-government Code of Conduct. The single Code of Conduct reflects ethical values contained in the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 and covers the following principles:

  • integrity and impartiality
  • promoting the public good
  • commitment to the system of government
  • accountability and transparency.

The code guides us in managing issues like:

  • conflicts of interest
  • personal conduct
  • commitment to service delivery
  • information sharing and relationship building across agencies
  • adherence to organisational values and policies
  • continuous performance improvement
  • appropriate use of official information and resources.

Our Workplace Behaviours Policy also provides standards relating to appropriate workplace behaviour and outlines obligations relating to the Code of Conduct. We manage Code of Conduct breaches in line with the Public Service Commission’s Discipline Guide.

We provide staff with Code of Conduct and workplace behaviours training when they start work and then annually.

Our systems and processes

Records and information management

Under the Public Records Act 2002, we are required to make and keep full and accurate records of our activities, and to comply with records and information management policies, standards and guidelines issued by the State Archivist. We use the Micro Focus Records Manager 8 (RM8) electronic document and records management system (eDRMS) and plan to upgrade this system to Content Manager 9 in 2021–22. This will involve the system integrating with other core business systems, which will further improve how we manage client records.

In 2020–21, we continued records and information management reforms to improve and support good corporate governance by:

  • implementing Queensland State Archives requirements in relation to identifying and managing records for vulnerable people and records relating to incidences and allegations of abuse
  • consulting with our staff to provide guidance on corporate recordkeeping requirements in relation to the Records Governance Policy
  • refining digitisation processes to continue expanding Legal Aid Queensland’s corporate memory
  • performing risk assessments on process changes and software implementation needed to respond to the COVID-19 situation.

We progressed the transition from paper to digital records by:

  • upgrading our digitisation software and associated infrastructure to increase our processing capacity
  • identifying opportunities where a scan-first process can be implemented.

We improved our records and information management system’s reliability and security by:

  • participating in the organisation’s response to the recommendations of ‘Operation Impala’
  • participating in user group sessions to keep abreast of the organisation’s eDRMS capabilities and implementing changes.

We continued to implement appropriate disposal activities by:

  • planning a project that involves reviewing legal files that do not have a ‘Client authority to dispose’ as required by the Australian Solicitor Conduct Rules so that we can dispose of client files that have met their retention requirements, allowing us to reduce the expenses associated with off-site storage of physical files
  • reviewing our disposal procedures and implementing appropriate changes in line with best practice.

We have collaborated with other government agencies to share knowledge about best practice records and information management by participating in:

  • focus group discussions with agencies such as Queensland State Archives
  • professional development opportunities delivered by Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia—the core industry professional body for records and information management.

Library services

Our library provides comprehensive reference, research and research-training services to our staff. It supports legal service delivery, planning and management through its modern collection, knowledge management and current awareness services, and experienced staff.

During the year, we:

  • maintained our specialty collections of criminal law, family law and civil law judgments to provide our lawyers with case law tools designed for their needs
  • trained staff to effectively use information resources for legal research
  • produced 12 case law and five legislation alerting services for legal teams
  • launched five new specialty alerting services to disseminate news, professional development opportunities and new resources in the library
  • upgraded the comparable sentencing decisions databases to provide new search options for finding relevant cases, and improved how we display results.

Key in-house legal information resources are available to preferred supplier law firms, CLCs and the ATSILS to help them provide high quality legal services to clients.

Reducing environmental impact

During 2020–21, we continued work to improve energy and conservation efficiencies to help reduce our environmental impact.

Efforts to achieve savings have continued through:

  • major upgrades to the high efficiency water chiller for our air-conditioning system at 44 Herschel Street to drive efficiencies and control over air-conditioning through the building
  • upgrades to lighting systems installed as part of our main Brisbane office’s refurbishment, including motion sensors to minimise energy use
  • using multifunctional devices for printing, copying, faxing and scanning to reduce our energy use and carbon footprint
  • using rainwater collected in our three 16,000 litre water tanks to flush our toilets and irrigate our gardens at our 44 Herschel Street, Brisbane office building
  • reusing water (condensation) from our air-conditioning systems to flush our toilets
  • closely measuring, monitoring and publicising our energy and water use figures to inform and encourage staff
  • implementing an electronic electricity use and reporting tool, which is monitored daily
  • monitoring our daily water use to check for potential water leaks in our systems and reporting on water loss
  • reducing our air-conditioning use during the cooler months
  • modifying our air-conditioning water pumps so they shut down when the chiller cycles off
  • increasing sensor lighting to reduce energy use
  • introducing timer technology to reduce use of water boilers, hot water systems and water pumps
  • educating staff about ways they can help save water and energy
  • managing our cleaning contract and service hours to reduce after-hours lighting use
  • participating in a long-term whole-of-government energy supply contract to increase purchasing power and improve supply conditions, while also reducing energy pricing and costs
  • using videoconferencing facilities to reduce transport-related carbon emissions, energy use and associated costs
  • choosing more energy efficient cars when replacing vehicles in our fleet
  • recycling paper, cardboard, cans, glass and printer toner cartridges
  • constantly looking for opportunities to further reduce our water and energy use.

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Figure 15. Herschel St, Brisbane office water consumption

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Figure 16. Herschel St, Brisbane office energy consumption

Information Communication and Technology program

During 2020–21, we continued to complete all scheduled work within the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) 2020–23 Strategic Plan. We also started several business improvement projects related to establishing a robust infrastructure, improving mobility and implementing modern technologies.

The ICT 2020–23 Strategic Plan included the service delivery and strategic direction Information Technology (IT) Services are undertaking to support the organisation. The plan outlines the key areas in which IT Services will focus planning, investment and delivery through four strategic objectives:

  • supporting the effective and efficient operation of the organisation and its business through ICT
  • advancing the organisation’s business with better use of ICT on a modern mobile digital platform
  • engaging more easily with the public, preferred suppliers, government departments and non-governmental organisations
  • building a capable, trusted and more forward-looking ICT provider.

During the year, we:

  • implemented Office 365 and Windows 10 across all Legal Aid Queensland computers; this has been essential to allow work from home capability during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • reviewed two legacy business critical, bespoke systems and determined these should be replaced when funding is available
  • conducted a Disaster Recovery Test to verify business continuity processes
  • conducted a server replacement project to replace 86 servers that are essential for business continuity
  • conducted a statewide Uninterrupted Power Supply upgrade that is essential for business continuity
  • continued working towards completing initiatives outlined in the ICT 2017–20 Strategic Plan and developed the ICT Strategic Plan 2020–23
  • completed multiple projects to enable working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
    • upgrading the internet connection and associated hardware to allow all staff to work from home
    • rolling out 200 new Surface Pro devices to staff
    • implementing multiple communication technologies to allow all staff to use videoconferencing and collaboration tools
    • upgrading software and hardware capabilities to allow staff to access business critical systems
    • implementing softphone capabilities so staff can make/receive calls on their mobile device.

Open data

Data about the Queensland Language Services Policy is available on the Queensland Government Open Data portal. To access more information, government data and the Annual Report 2020–21 Open Data, visit www.data.qld.gov.au

Last updated 19 October 2021

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