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Corporate governance

Corporate governance is the system by which our organisation is managed, directed and held accountable.

Sound corporate governance means:

  • achieving our strategic goals and objectives
  • being accountable for our decisions and actions
  • fulfilling legal requirements
  • ensuring the Legal Aid Queensland Act’s requirements and philosophy are met
  • managing risks
  • monitoring, reporting on and evaluating our performance
  • meeting government and community expectations.

Our corporate governance structure provides leadership in achieving our strategic and operational objectives (see Figure 1 for more information).

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Figure 1. Corporate governance structure

Legal Aid Queensland Board

The Legal Aid Queensland Board (the board) is responsible for governing 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 11 occasions in 2015–16 (see Table 1 for more information). 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.

Board members

Brian StewartChairman Board member since February 2014

Brian Stewart has held chief executive and senior management roles in the private and public sectors including director-general of the state government departments of Justice and Attorney-General, Queensland Emergency Services, and Consumer Affairs and chief executive of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (Australia and Queensland). He has also served as director for profit and not-for-profit companies including the Real Estate Institute of Queensland and Brisbane Housing Company. 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. He is also a part-time senior member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Sandra Deane Board member since September 2014

Sandra Deane is an experienced board member, tribunal member and an independent consultant in the energy and legal sectors 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 15 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 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.

Legal Aid Queensland Board
Act or instrument Legal Aid Queensland Act 1997
Functions Responsible for governing Legal Aid Queensland and ensuring the organisation achieves its objectives. The board decides the organisation’s priorities and strategies, leads policy direction and ensures sound and prudent financial management.
Achievements

Key achievements included:

  • overseeing the development of the Strategic Plan 2016–20
  • visiting Legal Aid Queensland’s Woodridge and Bundaberg offices and meeting with local staff and preferred suppliers
  • approving the establishment of a barrister panel for use by in-house lawyers and preferred suppliers to undertake complex criminal law matters
  • approving the implementation of new grants processing strategies for targeted assessment and streamlining of grant applications
  • approving the child protection duty lawyer service roll out to an extra seven locations across Queensland
  • overseeing the domestic and family violence duty lawyer service roll out to 14 locations across the state
  • overseeing the development and implementation of accommodation strategies for the organisation
  • endorsing the grants of aid fee review outcomes recommendations for legal aid work undertaken by preferred suppliers
  • approving revised family law guidelines and the implementation of a new stage of matter funding model aligned to court processes to reduce red tape for preferred suppliers and improve grants processing productivity
  • approving the organisation’s Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Strategic Plan 2015–18 and the Workforce Plan 2015–18
  • approving improvements to managing expensive case expenditure.
Financial reporting Not exempted from audit by the Auditor-General and Transactions of the entity are accounted for in the financial statements.

Remuneration
Position Name Meetings/sessions attendance Approved annual fee Approved sub-committee fees if applicable Actual fees received1
Board chairman, Accommodation Committee and Audit, Risk & Compliance Committee member Brian Stewart 16 (9 board meetings, 7 sub-committee meetings) $8063 $3580 $12 241
Board member, Accommodation Committee chairman Allan Welsh 16 (10 board meetings, 6 sub-committee meetings) $6257 $2300 $8557
Board member Peter Nolan 8 $6257 $12 514 (includes 2015’s remuneration back paid in 2016)
Board member, Audit, Risk & Compliance Committee chairman Sandra Deane 15 (11 board meetings, 4 sub-committee meetings) $6257 $6257 $6257
Board member Philip Askin 10 $6257 $5736
No. scheduled meetings/sessions 21 (11 board meetings and 10 sub-committee meetings)
Total out of pocket expenses $9944

 

1 'Actual fees received' does not include superannuation or out of pocket expenses.

Table 1. Legal Aid Queensland Board information 2015–16

Accommodation Committee

The Accommodation Committee is a temporary sub-committee of the Legal Aid Queensland Board and acts in an advisory capacity to the board. The committee assesses our long-term
accommodation needs and options for office operations throughout the state.

The committee’s responsibilities include:

  • assessing and making recommendations about the continued ownership and refurbishment needs of our Brisbane head office at 44 Herschel Street
  • assessing sale, purchase and/or leasing options for our Brisbane central business district occupancy needs
  • engaging with relevant stakeholders about our accommodation options
  • providing advice and assessing the impact of our Brisbane head office’s land and building valuation
  • assessing potential offers made to purchase our Brisbane head office
  • considering significant issues relating to regional office accommodation
  • determining the timeframe for the committee’s tenure
  • engaging external consultants to help with assessments as needed.

The committee comprises:

  • Legal Aid Queensland Board member Allan Welsh (chairman)
  • Legal Aid Queensland Board chairman Brian Stewart

The meeting is also attended by:

  • Acting CEO Paul Davey
  • Acting Deputy CEO Nicky Davies
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Chief finance officer (CFO) Gavin Holdway
  • Facilities coordinator Terry Kelly.

Allan Welsh and Brian Stewart received remuneration for attending this committee in addition to the remuneration they received for attending board meetings.

Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee

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 2015–16 included:

  • reviewing the charter to ensure ongoing effectiveness of the committee’s authority, objectives and responsibilities
  • reviewing the 2014–15 end of financial year statements prior to signing by the board chairman and CFO
  • reviewing the external auditor’s recommendations from the 2014–15 audit and 2015–16 interim audit
  • reviewing the organisation’s risk register and overseeing the register’s maintenance
  • reviewing the updated risk management policy prior to review and approval by the board
  • reviewing the updated compliance management policy and endorsing the planned bi-annual compliance report program.

The committee comprises:

  • Legal Aid Queensland Board member Sandra Deane (chairman)
  • Legal Aid Queensland Board chairman Brian Stewart
  • a Queensland Treasury representative
  • a Department of Justice and Attorney-General Financial Services representative
  • Len Scanlan (former Auditor-General of Queensland).

There are three external committee members. The representatives from Queensland Treasury and Department of Justice and Attorney-General are public servants and did not receive remuneration for meetings. Sandra Deane and Brian Stewart are two board members appointed to the committee and received remuneration for their attendance and representation in addition to the remuneration they received for attending board meetings. The fifth committee member, Len Scanlan, received remuneration of $6524.38 in 2015–16.

The CEO, Corporate Services director and CFO also attend each meeting.

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 and in line with s 35 of the Financial and Performance Management Standard 2009.

Executive Management Team

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:

  • monitor our strategies, activities and performance to ensure legal assistance is provided to financially disadvantaged people in the most effective, efficient and economical way
  • review and approve policies and standards and ensure these are implemented so we meet our statutory obligations
  • ensure management systems and practices are effective and reflect ethics obligations and the Code of Conduct
  • oversee our budget and monitor financial performance
  • promote, sponsor and develop a culture of risk management, service delivery improvement and innovation to ensure we have an organisational culture and environment that attracts and retains high-performing employees
  • consider and make decisions on significant issues affecting the organisation
  • communicate important information to staff.

The team meets fortnightly and comprises:

  • Acting CEO Paul Davey (chairman)
  • Acting Deputy CEO Nicky Davies
  • Acting Family Law and Civil Justice Services director Toni Bell
  • Criminal Law Services director Peter Delibaltas
  • Public Defender John Allen
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Acting Executive Services director Kerry Bichel
  • Information and Advice Services director Amber Buckland.

Finance Committee

The Finance Committee monitors and reviews our financial, budget and performance processes.

The committee’s responsibilities include:

  • overseeing the annual budget preparation and recommending its endorsement by the CEO and approval by the board
  • ensuring our budget is framed to maximise achieving objectives outlined in our strategic plan and government priorities
  • ensuring the budget is effectively managed so we achieve budget targets and comply with government requirements
  • monitoring and reporting on our financial performance and position, identifying key financial performance drivers and establishing measures for determining success
  • monitoring compliance with external financial reporting requirements.

The committee comprises:

  • Acting CEO Paul Davey (chairman)
  • Acting Deputy CEO Nicky Davies
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • CFO Gavin Holdway.

Information Communication and Technology Steering Committee

The ICT Steering Committee ensures information technology (IT) and communication operations, investments and initiatives are aligned with Legal Aid Queensland’s strategic emphasis on
service delivery systems and business processes.

The committee’s responsibilities include:

  • providing corporate governance for planning, approving and prioritising significant ICT investments and initiatives
  • ensuring whole-of-organisation coordination and oversight of ICT and its deployment within the organisation
  • ensuring ICT investments and initiative proposals:
    • are and remain consistent with the organisation’s strategic plan, priorities, budget strategy and resourcing capability
    • are responsive to identified client and staff needs
    • fully consider people management, change management and communication priorities
  • ensuring whole-of-organisation engagement with the organisation’s ICT priorities and challenges
  • monitoring IT service delivery performance against approved targets and initiate corrective action where needed.

The committee comprises:

  • Acting CEO Paul Davey (chairman)
  • Acting Deputy CEO Nicky Davies
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Acting Executive Services director Kerry Bichel
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • Information and Advice Services director Amber Buckland
  • IT manager Russell Scott
  • a Department of Justice and Attorney-General representative.

Human Resources Committee

The Human Resources (HR) Committee determines Legal Aid Queensland’s approach to managing HR to support the strategic objective of 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.

The committee’s responsibilities include:

  • guiding our Workforce Strategy’s development, monitoring and evaluation
  • ensuring resource levels, mix and allocation adequately supports the organisation’s current and future needs
  • maintaining an awareness of HR trends, assessing their applicability for Legal Aid Queensland and implementing initiatives for continuous improvement
  • approving new and updated HR policies and procedures in line with the strategic framework
  • noting operational HR metrics and key performance indicators
  • encouraging a culture of performance through active people management and development
  • ensuring the organisation complies with HR legislation and directives.

The committee comprises:

  • Acting CEO Paul Davey (chairman)
  • Acting Deputy CEO Nicky Davies (deputy chairman)
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Criminal Law Services director Peter Delibaltas
  • Acting Executive Services director Kerry Bichel
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • Information and Advice Services director Amber Buckland
  • Acting Family Law and Civil Justice Services director Toni Bell
  • HR manager Kelly Camden.

External scrutiny

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:

  • external audit and certification
  • judicial review of administrative decisions
  • the Queensland Ombudsman
  • the Crime and Corruption Commission Queensland
  • Parliamentary Estimates Committee Hearings
  • Finance and Administration Committee
  • Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee
  • the Legal Services Commission
  • public performance reporting, for example, through this annual report and the annual Service Delivery Statement.
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