Abbreviations

CMAG - CEO’s Management Advisory Group
CSO - Client Service Officer
RMT - Registry Management Team
RRM - Regional Registry Manager
SRL - Self Represented Litigant
YEAG - Young Employees Advisory Group

Introduction

The Young Employees Advisory Group (YEAG) was established in 2008 to provide young employees with the opportunity to participate in a national development forum and to contribute ideas to the future of the courts. YEAG consists of employees of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia under the age of 27 years and has, in 2013, for the first time included staff from the ACT courts.

The first YEAG met in 2008–09 with seven young employees selected to participate. YEAG was next established in 2009–10 with nine participants followed in 2010–11 with an increased membership of 15. YEAG 2013, the fourth iteration, began with 20 young employees, 18 from the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court and two from the ACT courts.

YEAG includes representation from judicial support, administration and corporate staff thus bringing together various aspects of the courts that may never meet. This has enabled participants to gain perspectives beyond their immediate work area and to gain an understanding of pressures and issues affecting other aspects of the courts. The inclusion of staff from the ACT courts had added a further dimension by exposing staff to the work practices and procedures of a different workplace.

The YEAG program:

  • Introduces young employees to the heads of jurisdiction and a variety of forums at the senior management level such as the CEO’s Management Advisory Group (CMAG) and Registry Management Team meetings (RMT).
  • Consists of four - two day workshops throughout the year where participants have a chance to meet face-to-face and work on various projects. Guest speakers and a trip to Parliament House Senate Estimates, are all part of the development program.
  • Requires participants to develop projects that will benefit the courts by focusing on needs as identified by young employees. To date YEAG has identified, developed and implemented a range of projects providing participants with real exposure to the process of project management while achieving real outcomes.

Since its inception young employees have taken advantage of the unique opportunities that the YEAG program offers. Feedback from previous participants and the outcomes achieved demonstrates the value of this initiative.

Structure of YEAG

YEAG consists of young employees from the courts who are 27 years of age and younger and who have responded to an expression of interest inviting staff to participate in the program. The expressions of interest are considered and the successful applicants form YEAG for that particular year.

YEAG is supported by:

  • YEAG Sponsor – a senior executive from the courts, responsible for the oversight of the program for the year and providing support to participants, the coordinator and project sponsors. The sponsor provides information and advice regarding YEAG activities to CMAG.
  • YEAG Coordinator – a manger from the courts who is responsible for the program logistics. In particular the coordinator ensures that venues and accommodation arrangements are in place for each of the four workshops conducted throughout the year. The coordinator provides day-to-day support for individual participants and the project teams.
  • YEAG Facilitator – an external consultant responsible for the design of the program and providing advice to participants on a range of topics including project management.
  • Project Sponsors – senior managers from across the courts are selected on the basis of knowledge and expertise to support individual project teams in achieving desired outcomes.

Working with YEAG

Jane Reynolds – Regional Registry Manager, Victoria and Tasmania

I was mentor of YEAG group in 2010.

What really impressed me was the sense that these people are the next generation workforce. New ideas. New technology. Different perspective on public value. And, a can do/get it done attitude.

At times there were processes and procedures we needed to impress upon our group, otherwise, what they wanted to achieve would not get up. That was not a problem. Our group was open to that learning and development. I learnt from them and I hope they got a few tips from me about advancing an idea with senior management and with judges and about how to manage yourself in different settings.

The experience was the real value. But in 2010, the group also delivered quality project ideas for the organisation including:- sms reminders for court events; a staff survey about development needs; and a policy on environmental management in registries.

This is a forward looking initiative which has the next generation of court administrators in sight.

Lisa Clark – Judicial Services Team Leader, Melbourne

I was coordinator for YEAG 2013.

Reflecting on YEAG I can say that it has been an incredible experience.

The role of the coordinator was varied and included arranging accommodation and venues for each YEAG meeting, to contributing to workshops and determining the types of sessions that the group would find beneficial.

The opportunity to work with Steve Agnew (Mentor) and Drew Baker (Facilitator) was a rewarding experience. I also had to liaise with managers from the ACT state courts and this was an extremely positive experience. 

Of course the highlight was the opportunity to work with the participants of the YEAG. Each member was so dedicated and enthusiastic about their program. They have put so much effort into their projects and have done a great job especially in working within their teams and developing their skills in areas of negotiation and project management. The positive way the groups dealt with various hurdles throughout the process of getting the individual projects up and running should be acknowledged.

Coordinators and mentors from previous years were a tremendous support and I am very grateful for the assistance I received from them.

It was a privilege to be a part of YEAG 2013.

Drew Baker – YEAG Facilitator 2009–13

The YEAG initiative is unique – this is a program that the courts can rightly be proud of. As the program facilitator for the period 2009 to 2013, I had the chance to work with three different YEAG cohorts throughout their development journey. It was a great experience to see young employees learn and develop during each program, especially through their project work, travel to different courts and engage with a wide range of guest speakers and other experiences.

I wish each YEAG participant all the best in the future and would like to thank Richard Foster and his leadership team for the investment and effort they have put into this initiative.

Peter Lenarduzzi – Registry Manager, Canberra

I was the YEAG 2010–11 coordinator with Marianne Christmann, Regional Registry Manager, NSW/ACT as the mentor.

Both Marianne and myself found our year-long involvement with YEAG a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. The 2010–11 YEAG embraced the opportunity to become involved in this important courts initiative from day one, they were a group of talented young women and men who were full of energy and enthusiasm. During their time together the group was able to attend Senate Estimates, meet and work with some of the courts’ senior executives and undertake project work which promoted their ideas for the courts’ future. The YEAG experience also provided them an opportunity to form new relationships with other young employees and visit some of the other court registries. At the group’s final meeting all members provided feedback ‘that their time with YEAG was a positive and rewarding experience.’

Year One

The YEAG initiative was started in the Family Court of Australia in 2008 with a group of members under the age of 25. The group coordinator was Paul Le Large, (Registry Manager, Parramatta) and the mentor was Stephen Andrew (Executive Director, Client Services).

The group worked on one project. In conjunction with Information, Communication and Technology Services to develop an enhanced function directory on the Court’s Intranet. The directory replaced the Court’s phone list by providing a more user friendly application with increased capabilities, using a Lotus Notes database.

The group also developed a working paper on the use of SMS and email to connect with court clients, and conducted a survey of the Family Court’s employees under the age of 26 on the handling of environmental issues.

Year Two

In its second year, the YEAG initiative included staff members from the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia (now the Federal Circuit Court of Australia). A group of nine young people aged under 27 years, were coordinated by Brenda Field (Registry Manager, Dandenong) and mentored by Jane Reynolds (Regional Registry Manager, Victoria and Tasmania). They undertook three projects:

  1. The development of a court-wide environmental sustainability policy, which outlined the courts commitment to improving its environmental performance, including increased awareness and involvement amongst staff. The project group also implemented the ‘Green Corner’ segment that was found in court newsletters, and created the Environmental Champions Network, a national committee to help the courts lower their carbon footprints.
  2. Continuing on from the work of the previous YEAG, the group developed a business plan exploring the use of SMS and email to improve client services.
  3. The promotion of staff development programs and the development of a staff survey to gauge the most effective way to communicate upcoming opportunities. The results were used to consider any changes for future staff development opportunities.

Year Three

The YEAG initiative continued to grow in its third year with fifteen young people in the group. The group was coordinated by Peter Lenarduzzi (Registry Manager, Canberra) and mentored by Marianne Christmann (Regional Registry Manager, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory). The group worked on four projects:

  1. ‘The YEAG Challenge – Step it up!’ provided staff with pedometers and encouraged them to form teams of 4–6 people and walk 10,000 steps a day. Running from 7 March to 3 April 2011, the YEAG Challenge involved over 500 staff within 72 teams. The challenge was hugely successful; staff logged an average of 11991 steps per person per day, well above the National Physical Activity Guideline for Australians of 10000 steps per person per day.
  2. ‘Think B4 U Send’ was aimed at reducing the over-reliance on email as a communication method, reducing unnecessary emails and promoting more innovative methods of communication. In particular, the project attempted to reduce the number of ‘all staff’ emails that were sent internally. The project group organised for new mouse pads to be distributed throughout the registries to act as a simple reminder to staff to use email effectively at work. In the four weeks following the launch there was a 5.5 per cent reduction per week in the number of emails being sent by all servers.
  3. ‘New Frontiers’ was a project that developed a targeted campaign to engage with young people and promote the courts as an employment option for young people. The courts participated in Law Week 2011, which included an open day in Melbourne targeting school and university students. A stall was also included in the Parramatta Courts Precinct Law Week 2011. The courts’ involvement in Law Week activities in Parramatta has continued in 2012 and 2013.
  4. ‘eFiling: Gateway to the Future’ aimed at increasing staff awareness and knowledge of the Commonwealth Courts Portal and eFiling. The group developed materials and created a workshop that were tested in the Canberra registry.

In October 2011, the YEAG initiative won the Australasian Institute for Judicial Administration (AIJA) Award for Excellence in Judicial Administration. The AIJA Award for Excellence in Judicial Administration is designed to recognise outstanding achievement in the administration of justice within Australia. Nominations for the award must have improved access to justice, demonstrated innovation and delivered real benefits for the justice system.

YEAG was also nominated for the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management.

Where are they now?

Melinda Holland 2010–11 YEAG

What have you been doing since YEAG?

After YEAG I took up a position with a strategic advisory firm in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai) for 18 months. Since returning to Australia I have been contracting for the Institute of Public Administration Australia in the ACT.

What did you get out of YEAG?

The opportunity to work closely with the court senior management on a range of new ideas and projects. It allowed for a greater understanding of project management and of other areas of work across the courts. It was also a great opportunity to meet and work with other young employees from across the courts, who i wouldn’t normally get to meet in my usual role.

How do you think YEAG benefits the courts?

It gives the courts’ young employees greater networking and collaboration opportunities and provides the courts with a new perspective and different ways of thinking from its employees ‘on the ground’.

Amanda Morris 2009–10 YEAG
Federal Circuit Court Chambers – Parramatta

What did you do after YEAG?

After YEAG I was inspired to pursue other opportunities within the courts to broaden my experience including joining the Staff Development Committee and becoming a founding member of the courts’ Environmental Champion Network. I eventually left the Court to experience life as a family law solicitor. I quickly found I much rather enjoyed being a part of the court and the administration of law. Since returning I have continued to pursue additional roles within the court including membership on the Local Consultative Committee and becoming a Registry Health and Safety Representative.

What did you get out of YEAG?

YEAG gave me the wonderful opportunity to witness and participate in broader aspects of the courts’ work. It was an invaluable opportunity to participate in a wider range of the courts’ work including budgeting and project development. In particular, I enjoyed the opportunity to develop a greater understanding of the role of the Court within the Attorney-General’s portfolio and wider political sphere.

YEAG was a wonderful opportunity to meet, engage with and be mentored by successful senior executives who have continued to provide encouragement and advice since the conclusion of my YEAG experience.

It allowed me to see work opportunities within the court and law beyond just the role of lawyer and has inspired me to pursue a different career path.

How does YEAG benefit the courts?

YEAG is a wonderful opportunity for a new and fresh perspective to be brought to the executive. It challenges the courts’ to look at ‘why’ something is done or why it is not, rather than just go along with ‘the way’. The benefit to the courts’ can be seen by the achievements of the various groups, be it the internal phone directory, instigation of various IT improvements and the courts’ Environmental Policy. It benefits employees of the courts’ to see that views of all employees are valued and being sought and taken on board. I have continued to provide encouragement and advice since the conclusion of my YEAG experience.

Emma Beesley 2009–10 YEAG
Federal Circuit Court Chambers – Parramatta

What have you been doing since YEAG?

When I took part in YEAG I was working as a Client Service Officer at the National Enquiry Centre. I then worked in Client Services in the Sydney and Wollongong registries. Since then I started work as associate to Judge Foster in the Federal Circuit Court and moved to the Family Court when His Honour was appointed in August of 2013.

What did you get out of YEAG?

YEAG allowed me to get to know people in different areas and open the lines of communication with peers and management. It also allowed me to gain an understanding of different roles in the organisation

How do you think YEAG benefits the courts?

It provides an incentive for younger employees to stay engaged and to see a career path in the courts’. Since taking part in YEAG, I have had the opportunity to take on more responsibility and become involved in other court committees.

YEAG 2013

The YEAG experience for 2013 began in early February, when 20 young employees were selected to participate. The 2013 group included a range of employees from the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia with employees in positions ranging from associates, to human resources, procurement and communications. In addition, the 2013 YEAG included two employees from the ACT State Magistrates Court and this was the first step in an initiative to broaden the YEAG program to other state and territory courts.

The group was coordinated by Lisa Clark (Judicial Services Team Leader Melbourne) and mentored by Steve Agnew (Executive Director Operations Federal Circuit Court).

Special mention should be made of the YEAG Facilitator Drew Baker who designed the YEAG program for the third time. Drew once again provided invaluable assistance to participants.

Highlights

Meeting One – Melbourne 25-26 March 2013

  • Individuals completed the DiSC Profile, a personal assessment tool used to improve work productivity, teamwork and communication.
  • Guest Speaker – Chief Justice Bryant of the Family Court of Australia shared her thoughts on family law, the future direction of the Court and her career path.
  • Four project teams were formed and initial project ideas discussed.

Meeting Two – Canberra 27-29 May 2013

  • Visit to Parliament House and Senate estimates.
  • Project teams presented at the CMAG meeting and received in principle support to proceed with their projects.
  • Guest speaker – Christine Svarcas, Executive at ComSuper shared her thoughts on career development and tips on work life balance.

Meeting Three – Sydney 23-24 September 2013

  • Guest Speaker – Chief Judge Pascoe of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia shared his thoughts on the future of the Court, his career path and human rights implications in Australia and internationally because of the rise of surrogate parenting.
  • Career management workshop.

Meeting Four – Canberra 12-13 November 2013

  • Project teams presented their projects at the CMAG meeting.

Our YEAG Journey – 2013

At the beginning of the 2013 YEAG program, many members had little exposure to the administration side of the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The majority of members, being associates, had not had the opportunity to take part in things like project management, the procurement process or dealing with senior executives of the courts.

Meeting one - in Melbourne was the first time many members of the group had the opportunity to meet with each other. Members were asked to give introductions on themselves, and also what their role with the courts involves. The Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia, Diana Bryant also spoke to the group in a formal setting and took time to have lunch and an informal chat with members, providing them with an opportunity to ask questions.

The group of 20 were then split into four project teams that worked on a number of initiatives during the course of the year.

The group’s second meeting in Canberra came three months later. In that time the project teams had spent time in weekly conference calls, Sametime messages and emails working on the initial stages of their projects and also getting to know each other. The second meeting would prove to be one of the most important, as the groups presented their project ideas to CMAG and asked for their approval and endorsement. The group also vistited Parliament House and attended Senate Estimates hearings.

Meeting three took place four months later in Sydney. During the months leading up to the third meeting, workloads increased on all members as they realised the intricacies of not only their projects, but the approval process that was required to take place. By this stage of the year four members of YEAG had left; Sophie Fitzgerald (CSO from Hobart), Lauryn French (associate from Brisbane), Tracey Kingsbury (associate from Sydney) and Renee Packham (pay officer from Canberra). Lauryn and Tracey formed part of one group, meaning a group of five turned into a group of three. This increased the workload but with invaluable assistance provided by Mentor, Steve Agnew and Coordinator, Lisa Clark, the group was able to continue to meet deadlines.

Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, John Pascoe also took time to talk to the group and provided them with an insight into his passions outside of the Court.

YEAG 2013’s final meeting in Canberra allowed the groups to present their year’s work to CMAG. Almost all of the projects looked quite different to what was planned at their inception, with groups realising that their initial scope was too broad, or that time simply wouldn’t allow for certain aspects to come to fruition.

Project One YEAG 2013

SRL Website Development – Clear Clicking

Project outline

The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court experienced an increase in the number of self-represented litigants conducting matters within the system. The group believed that the courts’ current web presence is confusing for both the general public and legal practitioners and did not adequately cater to the needs of users. The ‘Clear Clicking’ project targeted the business function of the courts by aiming to improve the public’s access to the court system, in addition to increasing the courts’ transparency, both of which are in line with the Framework for Court Excellence. The project set out to develop an easier to navigate web presence and a dedicated self-represented litigant (SRL) page for each jurisdiction.

Timeframe and milestones

In March 2013 the group formulated the general scope of the project and commenced initial research into the key needs of various users of the current webpages.

At YEAG’s May meeting, the group clarified its business plan and how it would benefit the courts. The team requested of the CEO’s Management Advisory Group (CMAG) approval for the general approach of the project and CMAG’s endorsement of an internal survey that the group had developed to determine the scope and content of the proposed redevelopment of the webpages. The group also indicated that it would be seeking future endorsement of any content produced during the project.

In June 2013 the group received 74 responses to its internal survey. The responses provided a detailed and valuable understanding of issues that needed to be addressed in redeveloping the content on the webpages and which areas to prioritise. Due to various factors, the group confined the project’s scope to improving the information relating to divorces.

During the September YEAG meeting in Sydney the group finalised its draft content. The draft content was then sent to a number of key employees of the courts, such as registrars and client service officers for feedback in readiness for publication on the relevant webpages of the courts’ websites prior to the final presentation to CMAG in November.

Proposed outcome

It is proposed that the content written by the group relating to ‘Applications for Divorce and Service’ will be uploaded to the relevant webpages of the courts’ websites. The team proposed three main benefits to result from the publication of the content, specifically:

  • SRL’s will be able to easily identify the correct process to follow when filing for divorce, along with which forms to complete
  • the strain on the courts, specifically the judiciary, registries and the National Enquiry Centre would be significantly eased as employees can confidently direct litigants to the relevant webpages, and
  • templates would be created for future improvement and development of the courts’ web presence after the completion of the 2013 YEAG program.

Where to next?

Based on the group’s earlier research, it was urged that the project be expanded to redevelop webpage content relating to:

  • Initiating Applications
  • Migration Applications
  • Application for Consent Orders, and
  • Fair Work Applications.

The group also recommended that by initially focusing on these topics, in a manner that clearly guides SRL’s to the relevant forms, the courts will better meet the needs of their users. This in turn will improve access to the courts and make the process more transparent, while easing the workload of staff. Upon completion of the above four topics, it is proposed that similar pages targeted towards self-represented litigants be written for the remainder of the website, making the information provided to the public more accessible.

The group strongly believes that the redrafting and redesign of the courts’ web presence would be an invaluable project for the courts’ to maintain and continue to expand on after the conclusion of this year’s YEAG program.

Project Two YEAG 2013

Self Represented Litigant — Video Production

Project outline

The self represented litigants –Stopping the DIY Confusion group began with five members, however, two members left the courts’ throughout the year leaving a group of three. The group identified that an area of improvement for the courts was the resources provided to SRL’s and they wanted to provide a more interactive resource in line with how people consume information today, on the internet via a video clip. Originally three videos were planned on the topics of service, an overview of the court process and information about existing legal resources. This was quickly streamlined into the development of one video about service due to time and budget constraints.

Timeframe and milestones

As the group’s energy focused on the development of the service video and its script, consultation with a number of stakeholders begun. This included liaising with the other SRL group who had completed a survey of court staff regarding improvements to resources for SRL’s. Judges, the National Enquiry Centre, registrars, managers and client services staff were also consulted. The group looked to the courts’ current kits on service to develop the script, adopting a more plain English approach in line with the aim of ease of access for all clients. Other resources including videos from the County Court of Victoria were also used to assemble what the group wanted to achieve with the finished product.

This translated into many tele-conferences, emails and Sametime conversations between the group memebers. The first part of the project time was spent developing the script, strengthening the business case to ensure necessary funding would be available and researching appropriate companies to produce the video.

As a result a decision was made to focus the video solely on service in divorce applications as this was identified as a key area of difficulty for SRL’s. The video is a 3–5min piece explaining the concept of service in a divorce application. The video will be available on both courts’ websites, on registry computers, as well as Youtube.

Proposed outcome

It is envisaged that the development of this video will:

  • reduce call frequency to the NEC for service issues
  • provide a further resource for client service use
  • reduce back-logs, delays and unnecessary adjournments caused by ‘procedural problems’, and
  • increase client satisfaction and access to justice.

Where to next?

The divorce service video produced by the group is planned to be the first of a series of videos made by the courts. With YouTube ranking as one of the most widely used search engines in the world it is important that the courts’ continue to provide information in timely and relevant ways to clients.

The video development will continue to be worked on by group members and also other members of the communications office. Currently, the idea of a ‘court tour’, showing people what to expect when they go to court for the first time is being considered as the topic for the next video.

Project Three YEAG 2013

Education and Exchange

Project outline

‘Education & Exchange’ is a project that aimed to promote innovation, education and court excellence. There were three aspects to the project, an exchange program between state and federal courts, an internship for university students and finally a mechanism to provide current staff with information about upcoming vacancies within the courts’.

Exchange program: The group established an ‘inter-court exchange’ between staff of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court and staff from the ACT state court. A pilot for the program took place in Canberra using the Canberra registry and the ACT Magistrates Court. The program included a week’s placement in the other court, with a view to facilitate an innovative exchange of information, processes and procedures. Once the placement was completed the participants were asked to complete a survey about their experience, gauging the success of the program.

Internship: The group then established an internship for university students to gain knowledge of the courts’ practices and procedures. The internship is set to take place in Melbourne with the view to extend to interested registries if successful. Based on a successful model implemented by Victoria University at the County Court and Supreme Court, the program allows 8–13 interested students to apply for positions, which are assessed on merit by the university. Successful applicants will attend the Court over four days to experience the inner workings as well as attend lectures, cases and question and answer sessions with a member of the judiciary.

Upcoming vacancies: The final aspect of the group’s work involved Recruitment sending out a weekly bulletin via email to all staff with information about upcoming vacancies within the courts. This gave staff an equal and fair opportunity to apply for and gain promotions, ongoing employment or career advancement through new opportunities. The bulletins are planned to be sent out on Tuesdays for vacancies that will be advertised on Thursdays. This bulletin comes from a generated mailbox which will allow staff not wanting to receive the email to set it to junk.

Timeframes and milestones

After the group’s first meeting in Melbourne the research process began for the exchange, the internship and the notification of upcoming internal vacancies. As the group were all in different locations communication occurred via teleconference, emails and Sametime.

On 29 May the group presented to CMAG and received valuable input and endorsement to proceed.

Over the next five months work continued on the projects, incorporating advice that was received from both CMAG and Registry Management Teams (RMTs). The group worked closely with management from the Canberra registry and the ACT Magistrates Court and finalised the outline for the exchange program. With the help of Human Resources the group completed a letter for staff members participating in the exchange. The group invited input from both the judiciary and management from the Melbourne registry regarding the internship however this proved difficult at times due to their heavy workload. The group received welcoming support for the internship, however approval for all aspects and content of the program took longer than first thought. After speaking with Claire Golding, Human Resources Manager the group received approval for the internal notification emails to take place. After researching different options for sending these emails it was agreed that creating a mailbox specifically for this emails would be the best option.

Proposed outcome

Exchange program: The group saw this aspect of the project as a great opportunity for staff of state and federal courts. It is anticipated that the program will be implemented in all capital cities on a annual or bianually basis.

Internship: The proposed internship program is planned to enable university students who are interested in family law to gain practical experience with the courts. It is envisaged that it will enable students to gain exposure to court procedures and processes and enable the courts’ to promote opportunities for careers to university students and to engage with universities as a whole.

Upcoming vacancies: This bulletin will enable staff to see what opportunities there are within the courts in all locations. Decreasing staff turn-over.

Where to next

Exchange program: The group plans to implement the exchange program in all capital cities. It will be managed by both registry managers and Human Resources. At the conclusion of YEAG 2013 members of the will continue work, helping in the developing stages of the exchange program once rolled out to other registries.

Internship: Set to commence in 2014 the initial draft pending final input and final approval will be obtained from CMAG at the end of 2013. Members of the group plan to continue to assist in the developing stages. A pilot is planned to take place in Melbourne and if successful will be rolled out to other interested registries.

Upcoming vacancies: This bulletin will continue to be sent out weekly on a Tuesday from the recruitment team.

Project Four YEAG 2013

Staff Recognition

Project outline

After the first meeting in Melbourne it was decided that the group’s aim would be to develop a fresh and interesting employee recognition program that would get employees excited and involved. This meant creating a recognition program that was meaningful, more closely tied to the employee’s efforts and perceived by employees as achievable.

The group had to consider its marketing strategy, brand design and employee incentives, but the main focus was to create a genuine award that celebrates the employee’s contributions and efforts to the courts.

The group initially surveyed court employees to learn if they felt appreciated in the workplace. The results showed that generally, employees were not fully aware of current court awards programs. They also showed that:

  • 84.1 per cent had not received an award while at the courts
  • 69.5 per cent had never nominated an employee while at the courts
  • 41 per cent were not aware of the criteria for receiving awards, and
  • 73.5 per cent felt that it is very important that their work is valued and appreciated.

The group also gained valuable insight on how employees would most like to be appreciated for their efforts.

Timeframe and milestones

The group met weekly via teleconference to develop the mechanics of the program, such as developing a selection criteria. Service, innovation, leadership, professionalism and community spirit were chosen as something that staff could identify with.

It was determined that more frequent awards would give employees more of an opportunity to be involved. The group liaised with registry managers and sponsor, Claire Golding (Human Resources Manager) to determine the best group to act as the selection panel. A regional registry manager or section head from the region would be head of the selection panels, including employees from various areas to ensure a diverse representation.

The group was overwhelmed with the positive responses from registry managers across the country who were keen to participate, which fuelled the enthusiasm to make the best employee recognition program in the country.

The group then moved into how to market the award and the specifics of the award like nomination process and rewards, and importantly, working to ensure longevity of the program.

Proposed outcome

The first ASPIRE award was launched on 8 October at the National Support Office in Canberra. The winner was announced on 1 November by Grahame Harriott, Executive Director of Corporate Services.

Research has shown that when staff feel appreciated, this then leads to higher productivity, staff retention, less sick days and in general a happier place to work.

Announcing winners will increase awareness of what other individuals are doing in the courts so ASPIRE can also be used as a mechanism for sharing information.

Where to next?

Next year – the program is set to be launched nationally, with awards in each region and all involved look forward to a variety of staff getting involved in the program.

ASPIRE and the ACT Courts

2013 marked the first year that the ACT Courts and Tribunal took place in YEAG.

As the ACT Courts and Tribunal already had an individual staff rewards program in place, the group tailored the ASPIRE awards and introduced ‘ASPIRE DAY’.

How it works?

Biannually, the social club is set to sponsor a lunch so that staff at all levels can come together and be rewarded for their achievements and innovations. The lunches are also an opportunity to say thank you for everyone’s hard work and contributions throughout the year.

On Thursday, 10 October 2013 the ACT Courts and Tribunal held their first ASPIRE DAY. The Registrars cooked a BBQ lunch for the staff at three locations in Canberra to acknowledge everyone’s overall achievements.

Thanks

On behalf of all YEAG groups, past and present, we would like to say a special thank you to Richard Foster for the continued support he has provided developing the program and to the individuals who have participated. YEAG has provided participants with a rare opportunity to work directly with the senior management team and to develop new ideas to assist the courts. These opportunities have been greatly appreciated and have proven to be an invaluable experience for participants.

We would also like to thank CMAG for their time and support. While presenting projects to CMAG has been a nerve racking experience it has it has also been greatly appreciated. The input from CMAG has assisted in identifying issues along the way thus enabling the successful implementation of our projects.