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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
  • 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).

figure-1-corporate-governance-structure-2014.gif

Figure 1. Corporate governance structure

Legal Aid Queensland Board

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 chairperson, who is appointed by the Governor in Council. Board members are appointed by the Governor in Council for three-year terms. The board met 10 times in 2013–14. 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 Iyla Davies and Terry Browne’s current three-year terms ended in June 2014.

Board members

Brian Stewart — Chair
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.

Iyla Davies
Board member since June 2005

Iyla Davies was admitted as a solicitor in 1984 and is currently the head and chief executive of The Women’s College in the University of Queensland. She is an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Law at the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and of the Australian Institute of Management. For more than 20 years she was a law academic specialising in family law, dispute resolution and mediation.

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.

Terry Browne
Board member since June 2011

Terry Browne was admitted as a solicitor in 1994 and is an accredited specialist in criminal law. He is a partner of the law firm Arthur Browne & Associates and has served as a member of the Queensland Law Society’s Criminal Law section as well as the Access to Justice and Pro-Bono section. Terry practises primarily in regional areas and is also a casual lecturer at James Cook University.

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.

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 met four times in 2013–14 and comprised:

  • Legal Aid Queensland Board member Iyla Davies (chair)
  • Legal Aid Queensland Board chair Brian Stewart (attendance since May 2014)
  • Queensland Treasury and Trade team leader Joanne Patterson
  • a Department of Justice and Attorney-General Financial Services representative
  • Len Scanlan (former Auditor-General of Queensland).

Two committee members are public servants and do not receive remuneration for meetings. Brian Stewart and Iyla Davies’ attendances are recorded as a board meeting for remuneration purposes and Len Scanlan received remuneration between $0 and $5000 in 2013–14.

The chief finance officer (CFO) attends the committee’s meetings with the CEO and Corporate Services director.

The committee’s key achievements in 2013–14 included:

  • reviewing the 2012–13 financial statements prior to signing by the board chair and CFO
  • reviewing the draft 2013–14 financial statements prior to signing by the board chair and CFO
  • reviewing the external auditor’s recommendations from the 2012–13 audit and 2013–14 interim audit
  • reviewing the in-house compliance audit results of preferred suppliers’ file
  • reviewing and updating the organisation’s risk register
  • leading the implementation of a formal compliance program to address the broad range of legislative, professional and business requirements expected of the CEO and the board.

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.

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:

  • CEO Anthony Reilly
  • Deputy CEO Paul Davey
  • Family Law and Civil Justice Services director Nicky Davies
  • Criminal Law Services director Peter Delibaltas
  • Public Defender John Allen
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Executive Services director* Mary Burgess
  • Information and Advice Services director Nadia Bromley.

*Previously titled Policy, Communcation and Community Legal Education director

Finance Committee

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

The committee:

  • oversees the annual budget preparation and recommends its approval to the CEO and board
  • ensures our budget is framed to maximise the outputs from the strategic plan and government priorities
  • ensures the budget is effectively managed so we achieve budget targets and comply with government requirements
  • monitors our financial performance and position, identifying the key financial performance drivers and establishing measures for determining success
  • monitors non-financial performance.

The Finance Committee comprises:

  • CEO Anthony Reilly
  • Deputy CEO Paul Davey
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • CFO Gavin Holdway.

Information Technology Steering Committee

The Information Technology (IT) Steering Committee ensures IT 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 IT investments and initiatives
  • coordinating the management of IT and its deployment within the organisation
  • ensuring the whole organisation supports Legal Aid Queensland’s IT priorities
  • ensuring IT 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 issues.

The IT Steering Committee comprises:

  • CEO Anthony Reilly
  • Deputy CEO Paul Davey
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • Executive Services director* Mary Burgess
  • Information Technology manager Russell Scott
  • Information Technology projects officer Amanda Anderson-Lush
  • a Department of Justice and Attorney-General representative.

*Previously titled Policy, Communcation and Community Legal Education director

Human Resources Committee

The Human Resources Committee provides advice and support to the CEO to ensure human resource strategies:

  • support and achieve equal employment opportunity
  • improve service delivery quality, effectiveness and efficiency
  • encourage high levels of productivity, performance and innovation
  • improve our capacity to meet new priorities and challenges
  • improve our ability to attract and retain skilled employees
  • result in employment expenses being managed efficiently and effectively
  • reflect the quality framework for public sector workplaces.

The Human Resources Committee comprises:

  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Human Resources manager Kelly Camden
  • Principal human resource officer Rebecca Hutchings
  • divisional representatives Patrick O’Brien (Criminal Law Services), Toni Bell (Family Law Services), Rosemarie Coxon (Regional Services and Business Partnerships) and Cathy Carr (Grants).

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 Misconduct Commission
  • the Parliamentary Estimates Committee
  • the Public Accounts Committee
  • the Legal Services Commission
  • public performance reporting, for example, through this annual report and the annual Service Delivery Statement.

Public Sector Renewal Program

We continued to streamline our non-frontline service delivery establishment during the year. A vacancy management committee comprising the CEO, deputy CEO and senior Corporate Services staff met to review all vacancies and other staffing requests. Service delivery was not adversely impacted during this process.

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