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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 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).

Figure 1 Corporate governance structure

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 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 on 10 occasions in 2016–17 (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 (as at 30 June 2017)

The Hon Margaret McMurdo AC Board chairperson since May 2017

Margaret McMurdo was appointed President, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Queensland in 1998—the first woman in Australia to preside over an intermediate court of appeal. She held that position until her resignation as a judge in 2017. In 2015, she was Acting Chief Justice of Queensland.

Margaret graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Queensland in 1976. She began her legal career as a student volunteer in 1974 with the newly-formed Aboriginal Legal Service.

In 1976, she became the first female paralegal in the Public Defender’s Office. She was admitted as a barrister in December 1976 and was an Assistant Public Defender from 1977 to 1989. She practised at the Bar from 1989 until 1991 when she became the first woman and the youngest person to be appointed to the District Court of Queensland. In 1993, she also held a commission as a Childrens Court judge.

Margaret was a founding committee member of the Women Lawyers’ Association of Queensland and its president in 1980–81. She was awarded honorary doctorates from Griffith University, Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland, and was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2007 for service to the law and judicial administration in Queensland, particularly in areas of legal education and women’s issues.

Margaret is a founding Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and a member of the American Law Institute. She is patron of Women’s Legal Service, Caxton Legal Service and LawRight’s Civil Justice Fund.

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.

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, is Independent Non Executive Director and Chairman of Sanctuary Cove Community Services Limited, is an external Audit and Compliance Committee Member of the Local Government Association of Queensland Limited 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 in the High Court. He is managing partner of Townsville-based law firm Roberts Nehmer McKee Lawyers, where he specialises in major commercial and estates dispute resolution, consumer law and defamation. Philip holds the position of honorary solicitor with the Totally and Permanently Disabled Ex-Servicemen and Women’s Association in Townsville, is the chairman of the board of directors of The Cathedral School of St Anne and St James, chairman of the board of directors of The Good Shepherd Limited as trustee for The Good Shepherd Home Charitable Trust and a trustee of the North Queensland Club.

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 2017–21
  • visiting Legal Aid Queensland’s Ipswich office and meeting with local staff and preferred suppliers
  • endorsing the grants of aid fee review outcomes and approving increased fees for solicitors and counsel for criminal law and state civil law matters
  • approving the budget for the organisation’s datacentre outsourcing project.
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

Total out of pocket expenses

$9364

Present Board chairperson, Accommodation Committee and Audit, Risk & Compliance Committee member

Margaret McMurdo

5 (2 board meetings, 3 sub-committee meetings)

$8063

$3580

Board chairperson, Accommodation Committee and Audit, Risk & Compliance Committee member (until 28/2/2017)

Brian Stewart

13 (6 board meetings, 7 sub-committee meetings)

$8063

$3580

$8732

Board member, Accommodation Committee chairman

Allan Welsh

15 (7 board meetings, 8 sub-committee meetings)

$6257

$2300

$8557

Board member

Peter Nolan

Nil

$6257

2017 remuneration paid in 2016

Board member, Audit, Risk & Compliance Committee chairman

Sandra Deane

15 (11 board meetings, 4 sub-committee meetings)

$6257

$2300

$9271

Board member

Philip Askin

10

$6257

$6778

No. scheduled meetings/sessions

22 (10 board meetings and 12 sub-committee meetings)

1 'Actual fees received' does not include superannuation or out of pocket expenses.
Table 1. Legal Aid Queensland Board information 2016–17

Accommodation Committee

The Accommodation Committee is a 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 contractors to help with assessments as needed.

The committee comprises:

  • Legal Aid Queensland Board member Allan Welsh (chairman)
  • Legal Aid Queensland Board chairperson Margaret McMurdo (5 May 2017–30 June 2017).

The meeting is also attended by:

  • CEO Anthony Reilly
  • Deputy CEO Paul Davey
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Chief finance officer (CFO) Gavin Holdway
  • Facilities and procurement manager Terry Kelly.

Allan Welsh, Brian Stewart (chairperson from 1 July 2016–27 February 2017) and Margaret McMurdo 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 2016–17 included:

  • reviewing the charter to ensure ongoing effectiveness of the committee’s authority, objectives and responsibilities
  • reviewing the 2015–16 end of financial year statements prior to signing by the board chairperson and CFO
  • reviewing the external auditor’s recommendations from the 2015–16 audit and 2016–17 interim audit
  • reviewing the organisation’s risk register and overseeing the register’s maintenance
  • reviewing the new enterprise risk management framework before review and approval by the board
  • reviewing the new compliance assurance tools and endorsing the ongoing bi-annual compliance reporting program.

The committee comprises:

  • Legal Aid Queensland Board member Sandra Deane (chairman)
  • Legal Aid Queensland Board chairperson Margaret McMurdo (5 May 2017–30 June 2017)
  • a Queensland Treasury representative
  • a Department of Justice and Attorney-General Financial Services representative
  • Len Scanlan (former Auditor-General of Queensland).

Sandra Deane, Margaret McMurdo and Brian Stewart (Legal Aid Queensland Board chairperson from 1 July 2016–27 February 2017) are 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. There are three other 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. The fifth committee member, Len Scanlan, received remuneration of $4793.75 in 2016–17.

The CEO, Corporate Services director, CFO and Governance manager 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:

  • 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
  • Acting Information and Advice Services director Katrina Smith
  • CFO Gavin Holdway.

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:

  • CEO Anthony Reilly (chairperson)
  • Deputy CEO Paul Davey
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • CFO Gavin Holdway.

Information Communication and Technology Steering Committee

The Information Communication and Technology (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:

  • CEO Anthony Reilly (chairperson)
  • Deputy CEO Paul Davey
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • Acting Information and Advice Services director Katrina Smith
  • Acting IT manager Zelda Leung
  • a Department of Justice and Attorney-General representative.

Human Resources Committee

The Human Resources (HR) Committee determines Legal Aid Queensland’s approach to managing the HR function 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:

  • CEO Anthony Reilly (chairperson)
  • Deputy CEO Paul Davey
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Criminal Law Services director Peter Delibaltas
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • Acting Information and Advice Services director Katrina Smith
  • Family Law and Civil Justice Services director Nicky Davies
  • Acting HR manager Luke Castle.

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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