In this section
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START OF 2017–18 annual report
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Grants and other contributions
Gains on disposal/revaluation of assets
Supplies and services
Outsourced service delivery
Grants and subsidies
Depreciation and amortisation
Operating result from continuing operations
Our financial position for 2017–18 remains healthy and reflects the board and management’s commitment to sound financial management principles to ensure the long term sustainability of core services. The operating surplus for 2017–18 of $4.8 million (or 3.6 percent of total income) compared with a balanced operating budget is primarily due to a number of one-off underspends, including lower expenditure relating to expensive criminal law matters, less than expected expenditure relating to child protection matters and lower than expected costs for duty lawyer services relating to the rollout of the Domestic and Family Violence Duty Lawyer Service, including to the Specialist Domestic and Family Violence Courts.
Our continued focus on managing our finances has maintained our balance sheet’s strength and stability while allowing the organisation to continue to deliver frontline services in a timely and effective way. This sound financial position allows us to invest in our assets and operational infrastructure, which ultimately helps us to deliver services more efficiently to our clients. We will continue to minimise costs and risks in relation to liabilities and contingent liabilities through our ongoing focus on sound governance practices in our financial management.
The organisation collectively has a strong focus on financial management and this allows for a greater ability to plan and deliver against objectives while meeting our core responsibility to provide cost effective services to financially disadvantaged Queenslanders. The 2017–18 actual operating surplus follows eight previous years of operating surplus results and this provides a continued foundation for strong financial management into the future.
Federal and state government grants are our main income source, with relatively little income derived from service charges or clients’ contributions towards their legal costs (see Figure 4 for more information).
Another part of our overall income management focuses on interest income earned on cash investments. This portion of income is moderate in nature but important as it helps to deliver core services and provides assistance to operational support functions.
Our major expenditure categories cover salary and wages for our staff along with paying our statewide network of private law firms to carry out legal aid work on our behalf (see Figure 6 for more information). The expenditure paid to private law firms is consistent with our mixed service delivery model, which allocates about 80 percent of legally-aided matters to private lawyers. The remaining costs support the in-house legal practice and infrastructure for all service delivery (see Figure 5 for more information). Our continued focus on expenditure management has contributed significantly to the organisational delivery and actual surplus achieved for the year ended 30 June 2018.
The most valuable assets we have are cash and cash equivalents (of $53.6 million), and our land and building in Brisbane (currently valued at $23 million). Other assets we own include unique computer-based business systems and money owed to us by clients.
Our largest liability is money we have to put aside to pay private lawyers for work assigned to them but not yet completed. Sometimes these cases can take several years to complete so money needs to be kept aside from the outset of the matter. In addition to this, our other main liabilities include known future payments to suppliers and providing payments associated with annual leave entitlements for our staff.
Equity is made up of two components—first the accumulated surplus (also known as retained earnings), which essentially is money in the bank and available to use for business needs, and secondly the land asset revaluation reserve. The accumulated surplus balance as at 30 June 2018 was $30.2 million, which represents about 64 percent of our total equity. The second component of our equity is the land revaluation reserve and this represents the increase, over time, in the value of the land we own in Brisbane where our head office is located. The 30 June 2018 balance of the land asset revaluation reserve was $16.9 million.
We have maintained and managed healthy cash levels over the past number of years to ensure we can pay our employees, ensure payment to our network of private lawyers for matters they finalise, and to allow us to replace equipment and other assets along with upgrading our facilities when and where required. We invest this cash in low-risk funds managed by the Queensland Government’s central financing authority. This investment strategy provides us with some income from interest earned but also protects us from market fluctuations.