In this section
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START OF 2014-15 annual report
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Corporate governance is the system by which our organisation is managed, directed and held accountable. Sound corporate governance means:
Our corporate governance structure provides leadership in achieving our strategic and operational objectives (see Figure 1 for more information).
Figure 1. Corporate governance structure
The Legal Aid Queensland Board (the board) is responsible for managing Legal Aid Queensland and ensuring the organisation achieves its objectives. The board is our organisation’s governing body and is responsible to the Attorney-General.
The board decides the organisation’s priorities and strategies, leads policy direction and ensures sound and prudent financial management.
The board has five members. Each member has specific knowledge or experience that helps in the organisation’s management. The areas of expertise include public administration, financial management, and law and legal services provision. The board is headed by a chairman, who is appointed by the Governor in Council. Board members are appointed by the Governor in Council for three-year terms. The board met on seven occasions in 2014–15, and also held a planning session with senior management. The reduced number of meetings was due to delays in finalising board appointments in early 2014–15. All board meetings are attended by the chief executive officer (CEO) and deputy CEO. Executive Management Team directors also attend as needed to present papers and discuss issues with the board.
Brian Stewart—Chairman Board member since February 2014
Brian Stewart has held chief executive and senior management roles in the private and public sectors including chief executive of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (Queensland) and director-general of the state government departments of Justice and Attorney-General, Queensland Emergency Services, and Consumer Affairs. He has also served as director for profit and not-for-profit companies including the Real Estate Institute of Queensland. Brian was admitted as a barrister-at-law of the Supreme Court of Queensland and the High Court of Australia in 1976 and has held the roles of crown prosecutor and assistant public defender. Brian has held a range of key positions on government boards, tribunals and on community groups including the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (Queensland) and Logan House. He has also served as a trustee of the Lady Bowen Trust dedicated to improving opportunities for the homeless.
Allan Welsh Board member since July 2008
Allan Welsh has led major projects in the public and private sectors for the past 20 years, with extensive experience in managing capital infrastructure, information and business system projects and events. He was awarded a Public Service Medal in the 2008 Australian Honours for his work in managing capital projects in the arts sector.
Peter Nolan Board member since February 2014
Peter Nolan is a Brisbane barrister with many years’ experience in criminal law. Admitted as a barrister more than 35 years ago, he worked as a prosecutor and then crown prosecutor until he moved into private practice where he specialised in civil and criminal matters. He now focuses on criminal law and continues to serve as an officer in the Australian Army Legal Corps—a position he was commissioned to in 1985.
Sandra Deane Board member since September 2014
Sandra Deane is an experienced board member, tribunal member and an independent energy consultant with extensive private and public sector experience. She brings experience from senior positions (including as CEO) in the corporate (publicly listed, large private and government-owned corporations) and professional (legal) sectors. Sandra was admitted as a solicitor in 1988 and has more than 20 years’ experience in legal practice in corporate and private practice and tribunal roles. She also has more than 14 years’ experience in the energy sector. She brings professional expertise in contract management and negotiation, dispute resolution and compliance. She is currently on the Board of Energex Limited, Stadiums Queensland and is a sessional member of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Philip Askin Board member since September 2014
Philip Askin was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1981 and has practised exclusively in litigation since 1982, in all jurisdictions in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and the High Court. He is managing partner of Townsville-based law firm Roberts Nehmer McKee Lawyers, where he specialises in major commercial litigation, general dispute resolution, trade practices and defamation. Philip holds the position of honorary solicitor with the Totally and Permanently Disabled Ex-Servicemen and Women’s Association in Townsville, and is the chairman of the Cathedral School of St Anne and St James board of directors, Townsville, and board member of The Good Shepherd Limited as Trustee for The Good Shepherd Home Charitable Trust.
The Accommodation Committee is a temporary sub-committee of the Legal Aid Queensland Board (from November 2014) and acts in an advisory capacity to the board. The committee assesses our long-term accommodation needs and options for office operations in the Brisbane central business district (CBD).
The committee’s responsibilities include:
The committee comprises:
The meeting is also attended by:
Allan Welsh and Brian Stewart received remuneration for attending this committee in addition to the remuneration they received for attending board meetings.
The Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee is a sub-committee of the Legal Aid Queensland Board and acts in a review and advisory capacity to the board. The committee provides independent assurance and assistance to the board on our financial administration and reporting, audit control and independence, legal compliance, internal controls, and risk oversight and management.
The committee’s key achievements in 2014–15 included:
Two committee members are public servants and do not receive remuneration for meetings. Sandra Deane and Brian Stewart received remuneration for attending this committee in addition to the remuneration they received for attending board meetings, and Len Scanlan received remuneration between $0 and $6000 in 2014–15.
The CFO attends the committee’s meetings with the CEO and Corporate Services director.
The committee operated in line with its charter and met four times during the year. The charter is based on Queensland Treasury’s Audit Committee Guidelines.
The Legal Aid Queensland Act 1997 creates the position of CEO and gives the position responsibility, under the board, for controlling Legal Aid Queensland’s day-to-day administration, providing legal services to legally-assisted people, and arranging and supervising the legal services provided by Legal Aid Queensland lawyers.
The CEO is supported in this role by the Executive Management Team. The team’s functions are to:
The team meets fortnightly and comprises:
The Finance Committee monitors and reviews our financial, budget and performance processes.
The Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Steering Committee ensures information technology and communication operations, investments and initiatives are aligned with Legal Aid Queensland’s strategic emphasis on service delivery systems and business processes.
The Human Resources (HR) committee determines Legal Aid Queensland’s approach to managing human resources and building on our business capability and sustainability. The committee considers organisational issues relating to resourcing, performance, structure, culture and skills development, and aims to meet organisational needs while engaging employees.
We are subject to all of the external accountability mechanisms that apply to a statutory body in Queensland, including regular budget and performance updates with Queensland Treasury and the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.
Accountability mechanisms that complement the internal corporate governance framework include: