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Our performance - People - Legal Aid Queensland


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                              We’re developing a highly productive and satisfied workforce operating in a team environment.
Our performance

                               Promote and reward leadership in teams and individuals.
                               Maintain a culture that motivates employees and encourages a balance of work and life demands.
                               Sustain a high-performing and skilled workforce through effective recruitment and retention strategies, and staff development.

                  82   Legal Aid Queensland Annual Report 2007-08
Recognising our expertise                             Providing flexible work practices
During the year, Deputy Public Defender Tony          We want our staff to have a good work–life
Moynihan SC was appointed Queensland’s                balance and in 2007–08 we continued to offer
Director of Public Prosecutions. Tony appeared        flexible working options. This year we introduced
in many high profile criminal and civil matters for   a Supplementary Leave Scheme, which provides
our clients, and provided wonderful leadership        staff with up to six weeks extra paid leave a
to our in-house counsel and solicitors during         year through a salary sacrifice arrangement. We
the past nine years. His appointment recognises       also developed guidelines for considering staff
his formidable advocacy skills and outstanding        requests for ‘leave without pay’, and compiled
achievements, and that we provide our lawyers         psychological wellbeing resource material for
with great opportunities to undertake important       staff.
and challenging work.

                                                                                                                                                                            Our performance
                                                      We continued to successfully use telecommuting
Rewarding staff performance                           as a way to balance work and family
We believe in promoting and rewarding                 commitments. Telecommuters are monitored
leadership, and continued to recognise and            regularly and continued to meet their targets, and
reward staff performance this year. Staff awards      attended the office when needed for meetings
were based on:                                        or training. All telecommuter reviews have been            Former Deputy Public Defender Tony Moynihan
 commitment to providing high-quality service
 achievement of performance goals
	                                                    We also continued to provide remote computer         Keeping our staff safe
                                                      access to many staff and began trialling wireless
 supportive work practices and positive
	                                                                                                         During the year, we engaged external consultants
                                                      laptops to support more flexible working
 relationships                                                                                             AusSafe to review our workplace security
                                                      practices for our staff, particularly those who
                                                                                                           arrangements and explored best practice
 innovative approach to dealing with
	                                                    work part time.
                                                                                                           standards in occupational violence matters. The
 challenges.                                                                                               review resulted in policies and protocols being
                                                                                                           developed to ensure we maintain our duty of care
                                                                                                           to our staff, clients and the general public.

                                                                                                                                                    Forward thinking   83
                             Strengthening our workforce                               used initially to deliver induction and records       advocacy workshops targeted at improving
                             To support the professional development of our            management e-learning courses to staff.               our lawyers’ competence, confidence,
                             staff, during the year we:                                                                                      knowledge and skills
                                                                                    We provided our staff with comprehensive
                               maintained our accreditation with the
                              	                                                                                                             high-quality legal advice, including prison
                                                                                    training and development activities. Topics
                               Queensland Law Society and the Bar                                                                            advice
                               Association of Queensland as an in-house                                                                      family dispute resolution
                               continuing professional development provider           leadership and practice management
                                                                                                                                             independent children’s lawyer and separate
                               (until 31 March 2008), allowing us to offer            teamwork
                                                                                                                                             representative’s roles
                               staff weekly continuing legal education
                                                                                      project management, analysis and evaluation
                               presentations, intensive training sessions and                                                                youth justice conferencing
                               workshops                                              identifying clients with an intellectual
                                                                                                                                             litigation support
                                                                                      disability and cognitive impairment
Our performance

                               developed an induction program for new
                                                                                                                                             information technology/using computers
                               senior solicitors and legal officers who               criminal, family and civil law legislation
                               expressed interest in relieving at a regional                                                                 online legal information resources, legal
                                                                                      child protection
                               office; the program comprises six modules:                                                                    databases and knowledge-sharing tools
                               legal practice, human resources and                    criminal injuries compensation
                                                                                                                                             ethics, trust accounts and risk management
                               industrial relations issues, performance               criminal law processes and procedures
                               management, client information services,                                                                      administrative duties
                               financial management, and grants functions             advanced communication skills — mental
                                                                                                                                             regional network coordinators’ and regional
                               introduced a Team Health Check tool to
                              	                                                                                                             contacts’ roles and duties.
                               evaluate team performance and areas for                self-care and protection
                               future development                                                                                          Staff also attended relevant internal and
                                                                                      cross-cultural awareness and working with
                                                                                                                                           external conferences and seminars. Several staff
                               began piloting Moodle as a software platform
                              	                                                      interpreters
                                                                                                                                           presented papers at external conferences.
                               for developing e-learning courses for staff            deaf awareness
                               and to improve our learning and development
                               professionals’ skills; the software will be            domestic and family violence

                                Forward thinking…
                                In 2008–09, we will implement new policies and procedures to ensure our staff are safe while working in our offices, at courts, prisons and other

                  84   Legal Aid Queensland Annual Report 2007-08
Continuing legal education                            training to new and existing customer service        Legal advice training
The Legal Practice ran an extensive in-house          staff.                                               We provide our lawyers with legal advice training
continuing legal education program to ensure                                                               each year to ensure the advice they provide to
staff are up to date with the latest legislation      Grants staff training                                clients is of the highest standard. This year we
and best practice techniques. A weekly seminar        Grants staff and customer service officers around    provided training to 94 people, including lawyers
program, teleconferenced to regional offices, was     the state continued to participate in learning and   from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
offered to all staff again this year and included     development programs to ensure they performed        Legal Service and 15 community legal centres
presentations from guest speakers and lecturers,      their roles effectively. Programs included:          (CLCs). This was the first time we have provided
including Chief Magistrate Judge Irwin, who                                                                training to external lawyers. The program was
                                                       Core competency program — to develop
presented on advocacy in the magistrates court;                                                            directed at lawyers working in a legal clinic
                                                       the skills needed for an acceptable level of
barrister Stephen Keim SC and solicitor Peter                                                              environment where the aim is to provide clients
                                                       workplace performance. The program is aimed
Russo, who spoke about their experiences in                                                                with an understanding of their legal problem and
                                                       at new grants officers, regional administrative

                                                                                                                                                                             Our performance
defending Dr Mohammed Haneef; and Professor                                                                how best to deal with it. We received positive
                                                       officers and regional customer service
Geraldine McKenzie, head of the University                                                                 comments, especially from CLC staff who
                                                       officers. All new staff to these positions
of Southern Queensland School of Law, who                                                                  expressed their gratitude at being included in the
                                                       completed this program.
presented on sentencing principles. Practitioners                                                          training.
from other law firms and legal services who do         Capability program — targets specific
legal aid work also attended.                          outcomes to meet organisational and                 Graduate recruitment
                                                       personal development needs resulting from
                                                                                                           We received more than 200 applications for
Client information officer training                    changes to legislation, court and budget
                                                                                                           graduate/trainee legal officer positions in the
                                                       processes. The program helps us map the
As part of our commitment to providing                                                                     Legal Practice, leading to 10 graduates being
                                                       practical pathways for achieving goals. It
high-quality services, we provide our client                                                               employed. The candidates’ calibre was again
                                                       also uses in-house staff and external guest
information officers with an extensive training                                                            exceptional, confirming our standing as a first-
                                                       speakers to meet staff training needs. Most
program. During the year, 15 new client                                                                    choice employer for many recent graduates.
                                                       Grants staff completed this program.
information officers successfully completed pre-
service training. The training includes sessions       Professional development program
                                                      	                                                   Our graduate recruits begin their work in a team
to assist client information staff work with people    — to improve the professional capability            dedicated to their training and development.
from non-English-speaking and Aboriginal and           of staff. The program included the Grants           From the start, they manage files and interact
Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.                    Conference, which covered topics such               directly with clients, receiving extensive guidance
                                                       as multiculturalism, plain language                 from our senior lawyers to ensure they achieve
We provide our call centre staff with classroom-       principles, child abduction, and personal           the highest possible standard in a supportive
based training every month. This year, training        communication. Staff also attended a two-           environment.
focused on legislative changes, specialist             day civil law ‘intensive’ aimed at improving
services and client management skills. We also         grants officers’ knowledge and skills in
supported our regional offices by providing            administrative decision-making, domestic
                                                       violence and child protection.
                                                                                                                                                     Forward thinking   85
                             Vacation clerkships
                             We continued to run our Vacation Clerkship
                             Program with an emphasis on practical work
                             experience. We selected 10 students who had
                             applied to join teams in the Legal Practice for two
                             weeks; most students were placed in criminal
                             law teams. Several of this year’s clerks applied
                             for permanent positions in the graduate recruit

                             Practical legal training
                             The Queensland University of Technology Legal
Our performance

                             Clinic course offers final-year law students the
                             chance to work at Legal Aid Queensland one
                             day every week for 13 weeks. Twelve students
                             participated in the program this year, building
                             their practical legal skills and gaining an                                        Graduate recruits Darin Clearwater, Tim Clements, Kate McMahon and Tom Zwoerner
                             understanding of the day-to-day workings of a
                             busy legal practice. The students are assessed on
                             their attendance record, participation and a final    University’s Practical Legal Training course            student participated in a four-week program
                             paper. The program has received encouraging           and Griffith University’s Semester in Practice          covering criminal, civil and family law.
                             comments from all involved.                           undergraduate course. Students participated
                                                                                   in a 15-week work experience program, gaining           School-based traineeship
                             The University of Queensland Civil Law Clinical       valuable, hands-on experience. The placement is         In 2007–08, we employed an Indigenous
                             Education Program offers law students the             the final step in satisfying the requirements for       school-based trainee to work in our Cairns
                             chance to work in our Brief Services Unit one         admission as a solicitor in Queensland.                 office. The trainee was employed for 18 months,
                             day every week for 10 weeks. This year, 20                                                                    while completing a Certificate II in Business
                             students participated in the program, building        Our Woodridge office offered a placement to             Administration.
                             their practical legal skills and providing minor      a legal practice course student as part of their
                             assistance to civil law clients. The students         practical component. The Griffith University
                                                                                                                                           Sustaining our workforce
                             are assessed on instruction, file maintenance,        student worked in the office one day a week for
                             letter writing, research, understanding and           one semester.                                           We promoted our Program 50+ retention strategy
                             communication.                                                                                                to staff aged 50 and over. The strategy aims to
                                                                                   Our Cairns office offered a placement to a legal        retain staff who might otherwise retire early.
                             We offered three law students the chance to           practice course student as part of their practical      We helped staff identify mutually suitable
                             work in our Southport office as part of Bond          component. The Australian National University           alternatives to taking early full-time retirement.

                  86   Legal Aid Queensland Annual Report 2007-08

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