In this section
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START OF 2019–20 annual report
END OF 2019–20 annual report
END OF Annual reports
END OF Corporate publications
Corporate governance is the system by which our organisation is managed, directed and held accountable.
Sound corporate governance means:
Our corporate governance structure provides leadership in achieving our strategic and operational objectives (see Figure 1 for more information).
Figure 1. Corporate governance structure
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 2019–20 (see Table 1 for more information). The chief executive officer (CEO) and the senior directors (and formerly the 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.
Margaret McMurdo AC
Board chairperson since May 2017
Margaret McMurdo was appointed President, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Queensland from 1998 until 2017 and was Acting Chief Justice of Queensland in 2015.
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 was appointed to the District Court of Queensland. In 1993, she also held a commission as a Childrens Court judge.
Margaret has been awarded a number of honorary doctorates and 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. Margaret has been chairing the Victorian Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informers since December 2018.
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.
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 an external Audit and Compliance Committee Member of the Local Government Association of Queensland Limited and is a part-time member of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Board member since July 2017
Joshua is a descendant of the Waanyi and Kalkadoon nations from North West Queensland. He has been practising 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.
Board member since August 2018
Lucia Taylor was admitted as a solicitor in 1991 and is an experienced family law practitioner based in Townsville. She has extensive experience having undertaken administrative decisions for the Child Support Agency for 17 years. Lucia was appointed a Queensland Law Society, Senior Counsellor in 2016 and in 2017 became a member of the James Cook University Human Research Ethics Committee. She has held key positions on community groups including the Townsville Community Legal Service, Zonta, Headspace Townsville and more recently the Queensland Community Foundation, North Queensland Sub-Committee. Lucia practises primarily in the North Queensland region.
Legal Aid Queensland Board
Act or instrument
Legal Aid Queensland Act 1997
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.
Key achievements included:
Not exempted from Audit by the Auditor-General and transactions of the entity are accounted for in the financial statements.
annual fee $
fees if applicable $
(11 board meetings)
Board member, Accommodation Committee chairman
(9 board meetings, 4 sub-committee meetings)
Board member, Audit, Risk & Compliance Committee chairman
(11 board meetings, 4 sub-committee meetings)
Board member, First Nations Committee chairman
(11 board meetings, 3 sub-committee meetings)
Board member, Audit, Risk & Compliance Committee member
22 (11 board meetings and 11 sub-committee meetings)
Total out of pocket expenses
Table 1. Legal Aid Queensland Board information 2019–20
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:
The committee comprises Legal Aid Queensland Board member Allan Welsh (chairman).
The meeting is also attended by:
Allan Welsh is the board member appointed to the committee and received remuneration for his attendance and representation in addition to the remuneration he received for attending board meetings.
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 2019–20 included:
The committee comprises:
Sandra Deane and Lucia Taylor 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 the Department of Justice and Attorney-General are public servants and did not receive remuneration for attending meetings. External committee member Alison D’Costa received $500 remuneration in 2019–20.
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 s30 of the Financial and Performance Management Standard 2019.
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.
Other stakeholders and staff members attend meetings to provide specialist advice on matters as needed.
Joshua Creamer is a board member appointed to the committee and received remuneration for his attendance and representation in addition to the remuneration he received for attending board meetings.
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:
The team meets fortnightly and comprises:
The meeting is also attended by Governance manager Stephen Shirvington.
The Finance Committee monitors and reviews our financial, budget and performance processes.
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 People, Culture and Capability (PCC) Committee determines Legal Aid Queensland’s approach 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 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.
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:
The key provisions of the Human Rights Act 2019 began on 1 January 2020. The Act’s main objects are to:
Legal Aid Queensland is committed to human rights principles. To fulfil this commitment, and further the objects of and ensure compliance with the Act, we have adopted the following measures:
In preparing for the start of the Human Rights Act, we made changes to our complaints systems and processes to ensure we could capture and effectively address any human rights complaints received. We did not receive any human rights complaints in 2019–20.