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Chairman's report

On behalf of the board, I am pleased to introduce Legal Aid Queensland’s Annual Report 2015–16.

Our report shows the important work we’ve done over the past year in providing quality, cost effective legal services to financially disadvantaged Queenslanders.

It also demonstrates our commitment to delivering on the Queensland Government’s objectives for the community, which include delivering quality frontline services and building safe, caring and connected communities.

Every week of the year we help people who are experiencing domestic and family violence, parents and children with child protection matters, and couples who are separating as they sort out arrangements about their children. We help people who have been charged with an offence, those who are caught up in consumer and debt matters, and people who want to make an anti-discrimination complaint.

Our staff deliver a huge number of services to people around the state. Each week at Legal Aid Queensland:

  • we provide legal information, referrals and community legal education (CLE) to more than 24,700 people via our call centre and front counters, website, publications and CLE activities
  • we provide free legal advice and task assistance to more than 820 people over the phone, via videoconference or at one of our offices
  • our duty lawyers represent nearly 1850 people who are appearing in court for their criminal law, family law, civil law, domestic and family violence or child protection matter
  • lawyers represent nearly 70 people in dispute resolution services to work out their family and civil law problems without going to court
  • we approve more than 560 individual grants of aid in new criminal, family, child protection, domestic violence and other legal matters so we can represent people in a court or tribunal.

During 2015–16, we continued our focus on long-term financial sustainability, with the organisation delivering a modest surplus of $0.045 million, while ensuring all available funds were used to assist clients. This demonstrates an efficient and full use of funding resources provided to the organisation by the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments to deliver services to the most vulnerable members of our community.

We also continued to listen to the feedback we received from staff and improve the way we do our business. During the year, staff participated in the Queensland Employee Opinion Survey, with 64 percent of employees responding to the survey. The survey results indicated those employees who participated in the survey felt engaged while at work and empowered in their roles and had strong workplace relationships. Survey responses indicated a greater level of employee satisfaction than in previous years and our results were very positive compared with the wider Queensland public sector. The feedback we received was invaluable in identifying areas for improvement and we will continue to implement changes in response to the survey feedback.

Our achievements this year wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and dedication of our Executive Management Team and the governance of the Legal Aid Queensland Board members. I would like to thank my colleagues, those committed Queensland lawyers and barristers who devote part of their legal practice to legal aid, and the many staff across the organisation for their efforts in providing high quality services to those who need them most.

Finally I would like to thank the state Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, the Hon Yvette D’Ath MP, and the federal Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, for their ongoing support for Legal Aid Queensland.

I would particularly like to thank and acknowledge the Queensland Government’s commitment to providing an extra $32.4 million in funding over four years, which will boost Legal Aid Queensland’s funding to a level that is equal to the national average per capita, and ongoing funding of $13 million each year from 2020–21 to sustain expected increases in demand for our services. Thank you also to the Commonwealth Government for their commitment to provide an extra $400,000 in funding for 2016–17.

This extra funding will ensure Legal Aid Queensland is on a stable footing to continue delivering sustainable frontline legal services to financially disadvantaged Queenslanders.

The board looks forward to working with the state and federal governments during 2016–17.

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Brian Stewart
Chairman, Legal Aid Queensland Board

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