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Corporate governance 2017–18 annual report

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 performancemeeting 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-annual-report-2017-18.jpg

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 usually 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 2017–18 (see Table 1 for more information). The chief executive officer (CEO) and deputy CEO are invited to attend all board meetings. Executive Management Team directors also attend as needed to present papers and discuss issues with the board.

Board members (as at 30 June 2018)

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. In 2017, Margaret was appointed chair of the Board of Governors of Queensland Community Foundation, the state’s largest public perpetual charitable trust.

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 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.

Joshua Creamer
Board member since July 2017

Joshua is a descendant of the Waanyi and Kalkadoon nations from North West Queensland. He has been practicing as a barrister since 2011. In 2009, Joshua was an Associate to the late Honourable Justice Peter Dutney in the Supreme Court of Queensland.

Joshua has developed a strong reputation as one of the leading lawyers in the country in matters that involve Indigenous Australians. In 2017, Joshua was awarded the National Indigenous Legal Professional of the Year Award. In 2016, he was recognised by Chambers Asia-Pacific as one of Australia’s Outstanding Young Lawyers. In 2013, Joshua received the Griffith University, Outstanding Arts, Education and Law, Young Alumnus of the Year Award. In 2008, he was awarded Griffith University’s Rubin Hurricane Carter Award for Commitment to Social Justice.

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:

  • establishing a First Nations Advisory Committee to help ensure Legal Aid Queensland has the capability to provide quality services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • endorsing the Law Council of Australia’s equitable briefing policy and establishing gender diversity in briefing practices at Legal Aid Queensland
  • approving increased fees for solicitors and counsel (except the expensive criminal law counsel rate) and fees paid to third party report writers and other service providers in all state and Commonwealth matters
  • approving the refurbishment of the Brisbane head office’s 4th floor
  • endorsing the establishment of a ‘centre of excellence’ for Legal Aid Queensland’s in-house practice
  • overseeing the development of the ICT strategic plan 2017–20, revised Board Charter and Strategic Plan 2018–22
  • approving changes to the income test part of our grants of aid means test so people whose weekly income is below the Henderson poverty line are no longer required to pay a contribution to the cost of their grant of aid.

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 $

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

Margaret McMurdo

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

8063

5370

14 926

Board member, Accommodation Committee chairman

Allan Welsh

17 (10 board meetings, 7 sub-committee meetings)

8063

2300

6418

Board member, First Nations Advisory Committee chairman

Joshua Creamer

11 (8 board meetings, 3 sub-committee meetings)

6257

2300

7982

Board member, Audit, Risk & Compliance Committee chairman

Sandra Deane

14 (10 board meetings, 4 sub-committee meetings)

6257

2300

9271

Board member (until 25/9/2017)

Philip Askin

2 (2 board meetings)

6257

2086

No. scheduled meetings/sessions

24 (10 board meetings and 14 sub-committee meetings)

Total out of pocket expenses

$4436

  1. 'Actual fees received’ does not include superannuation or out of pocket expenses.
Table 1. Legal Aid Queensland Board information 2017–18

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 AC.

The meeting is also attended by:

  • CEO Anthony Reilly
  • Deputy CEO Paul Davey
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Chief finance officer (CFO) Gavin Holdway
  • Acting facilities and procurement manager Jeff Patterson.

Allan Welsh and Margaret McMurdo AC 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.

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 2017–18 included:

  • reviewing the charter to ensure ongoing effectiveness of the committee’s authority, objectives and responsibilities
  • reviewing the 2016–17 end of financial year statements prior to signing by the board chairperson and CFO
  • reviewing the external auditor’s recommendations from the 2016–17 audit and 2017–18 interim audit
  • reviewing the organisation’s risk register and overseeing the register’s maintenance
  • reviewing the enterprise risk management framework before review and approval by the board
  • reviewing the 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 AC
  • a Queensland Treasury representativea Department of Justice and Attorney-General Financial Services representative
  • Len Scanlan, independent external committee member, former Auditor-General of Queensland (1 July 2017–24 November 2017)
  • Alison D’Costa, external committee member, independent audit and risk specialist (27 November 2017–30 June 2018).

Sandra Deane and Margaret McMurdo AC 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 attending meetings. The fifth committee members, Len Scanlan and Alison D’Costa, received remuneration of $2600 and $1000 respectively in 2017–18.

The CEO, Corporate Services director, CFO and Governance manager are invited to 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 s35 of the Financial and Performance Management Standard 2009.

First Nations Advisory Committee

The First Nations Advisory Committee is a sub-committee of the Legal Aid Queensland Board and acts in an advisory capacity to the board. The committee leads the ongoing development of Legal Aid Queensland’s cultural capability in providing best practice legal services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The committee’s responsibilities include:

  • developing the First Nations Advisory Committee strategic plan for the board’s consideration and approval
  • monitoring and reporting to the board about the plan’s implementation
  • providing advice to the board about issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and employees as may be referred to them by the board.

The committee comprises:

  • Legal Aid Queensland Board member Joshua Creamer (chairman)
  • Legal Aid Queensland Board chairperson Margaret McMurdo AC
  • representatives from two community organisations that provide general help to Indigenous people
  • an Indigenous Lawyers Association of Queensland representative
  • two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employee representatives—one lawyer and one administrative officer.

Other stakeholders and staff members may be invited to attend meetings to provide specialist advice on matters as needed.

Executive Management Team

The Legal Aid Queensland Act 1997 creates the position of CEO and gives the position responsibility, under the board, for managing 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 QC
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • 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 (chairman)
  • 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 objective of building on our business capability and sustainability.

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 initiating corrective action where needed.

The committee comprises:

  • CEO Anthony Reilly (chairman)
  • Deputy CEO Paul Davey
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • Information and Advice Services director Katrina Smith
  • IT manager Andrew Michajlow
  • Records and information management manager Nancy Taia
  • 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 plan’s development, monitoring and evaluation
  • ensuring resource levels, mix and allocation adequately support 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 (chairman)
  • Deputy CEO Paul Davey
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren
  • Criminal Law Services director Peter Delibaltas
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • Information and Advice Services director Katrina Smith
  • Family Law Services assistant director Toni Bell
  • HR manager Kelly Camden.

Work, Health and Safety Committee

The Work, Health and Safety Committee provides a consultative forum (with particular reference to the requirements of the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011) that can effectively address arising health and safety matters as well as recommend proactive initiatives to promote health and safety in Legal Aid Queensland.

The committee’s responsibilities include:

  • helping to develop, monitor and review health and safety policies and procedures
  • considering proposals for, or changes to the workplace, policies, work practices or procedures which may affect the health and safety of employees
  • considering measures for training and educating employees about health and safety
  • promoting the importance of health and safety among management and employees
  • monitoring Legal Aid Queensland’s health and safety performance
  • reviewing the circumstances surrounding workplace incidents and hazards referred to the committee for review
  • helping to resolve health and safety issues.

The committee comprises:

  • principal HR officer (trained safety advisor) Luke Castle (chair)
  • Corporate Services director Ian Warren (management representative)
  • Senior lawyer Darren Lewis (southern regional offices representative)
  • criminal lawyer Craig Ryan (northern regional offices representative)
  • lawyer Jason Czinki (Basement/Ground – 44 Herschel St Brisbane)
  • senior HR officer Janice Hawes (Level 1/2 – 44 Herschel St Brisbane)
  • Criminal Law Services coordinator Patrick O’Brien (Level 3/4 – 44 Herschel St Brisbane)
  • grants officer Tania Pizarro (30 Makerston St Brisbane)
  • conference organiser Sharon Hayes (193 North Quay Brisbane)
  • principal procurement and facilities officer Jeffrey Patterson
  • senior procurement and facilities officer Delina Smail
  • security officer Bill Mourney
  • HR officer Jenni Nobbs (secretariat).

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
  • 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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