The Risk Matters editorial team sat down with James to chat about his vision and plans for the future of LGIS.
James is delighted to be back in Western Australia and is keen to get out across the state, meeting with members and seeing the issues they face on the ground. We talked about his work with local governments in the Northern Territory and delved into the LGIS projects that have caught his eye. With a new leader at the helm and a fresh vision, it’s an exciting time for LGIS.
Mental health issues are increasingly prevalent throughout organisations; 1 in 5 Australians are
diagnosed with a mental health condition every year (such as depression, anxiety and substance use).
I’ve worked within and specialised in public sector risk management, mutual risk products and insurance over the last 17 years. This includes a strong professional connection I’ve built with the WA local government sector in my previous stint at LGIS, where I was part of the risk services team.
For the six years prior to 2023, I was based in Darwin where in conjunction with the Local Government Association of the Northern Territory and NT councils, I established and managed a new mutual risk product for NT council members. The experience to create, be involved in and lead all aspects of a mutual risk product, albeit a smaller size and scale to LGIS, has been an invaluable part of my experience and been an ideal grounding for leading LGIS into the future.
It’s good to be back after six years and observe the developments and growth. My first impressions have been that LGIS continues to be a wonderful organisation that I’m passionate about. There is a clear vision and strong member-centric values that I intend to uphold.
The developments and maturity of Scheme protections, governance arrangements, strategic considerations and member engagement in recent years are exciting and I’m proud to be the custodian of these into the future.
I’ve also been impressed with both the highly experienced board, which includes member and independent representation, and the expertise within the LGIS executive and management team.
With my strong risk management background based on the foundational belief that proactive prevention and prior preparation is far better than a reactive and unplanned response, the following LGIS projects are of keen interest with tangible deliverables to the Scheme and sector:
There are developing demands for better risk controls in the cyberspace; this is being driven by high profile losses arising from ransomware attacks and locally poor control environments. This is a significant and emerging risk for the sector with varying levels of understanding and maturity.
The LGIS cyber pilot program has provided us with valuable information on various cybersecurity positions across the sector and we continue to undertake information gathering to develop a broad profile of the sector’s cyber maturity.
The pilot program and ongoing information gathering aims to develop a program to support our members to identify vulnerabilities and share information with each other. We’re committed to providing members with information and knowledge to make the best decisions for their cyber-security.
The past few years has seen a notable increase in the cost of workers’ compensation claims for the local government sector. Claims are becoming more severe and complex and it’s taking an average of 36 days for injured workers to return to work. Ultimately, on average, outcomes are worsening for both employees and local government employers.
The sector needs to proactively manage the challenges of an aging population and increasing chronic issues such as obesity, heart disease, and mental illness. We’re doing a lot in the education space to build capacity with injury management and ergonomic champions’ workshops plus our South West WorkCare Forum in August 2023.
We’re also trialling a new early notification and treatment pathway to treat both physical and psychological issues before they develop into a claim. Delivered by the LGIS injury management and prevention teams this service is available to members to reduce the overall number and cost of claims.
Individuals with potential injuries will be identified early and provided with access to expert support including physiotherapy, mediation and psychology.
Although initiated in 1996, our health and wellbeing program has continuously evolved to remain innovative and relevant to the ever-changing needs of our members. For example, the financial wellbeing program, which launched last year, has been a great boost for the local government workforce to gain a detailed insight into managing their finances, especially in times of rising inflation. With amendments in the Work Health and Safety Act (WA) 2020, there has been specific focus on psychological health. In response, LGIS has introduced new workshops with focus on workplace behaviours and refreshed its psychological injury prevention services. These new initiatives are part of the LGIS People risk services.
We are currently working hard on the 2023/24 membership renewal process and concurrent to that I’m focussed on undertaking an extensive member visitation program with the intent to meet all members and understand their issues, needs and expectations of LGIS.
It was April 2022 when the LGIS injury prevention team visited Craigie Leisure Centre (CLC) to review the Kindy Gym program.