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2019–20 annual report 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
  • complying with privacy obligations
  • 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).

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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 usually for three-year terms (see Table 1 for more information). The chief executive officer (CEO) and the senior directors 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

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 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 chaired the Victorian Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informers from 2018 to 2020.

Since March 2021, Margaret has been chairing Queensland’s Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce.

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 and tribunal member 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 25 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.

Joshua Creamer
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.

Lucia Taylor
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

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:

  • approving the draft Strategic Plan 2020–24
  • approving the internal audit strategy
  • monitoring work, health and safety incidents and implementation of the workforce plan, ICT strategic plan and financial strategy
  • approving changes to Legal Aid Queensland’s organisational structure
  • endorsing the ‘working smarter’ review of Legal Aid Queensland services to investigate how services can be delivered more efficiently and cost-effectively.

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
received $

Board chairperson

Margaret McMurdo

12 (11 board meetings and 1 special board meeting)

8829

0

8093

Board member, Accommodation Committee chairman

Allan Welsh

19 (11 board meetings, 1 special board meeting,
6 accommodation committee meetings and 1 special accommodation committee meeting)

6851

2519

8589

Board member, Audit, Risk & Compliance Committee chairman

Sandra Deane

16 (10 board meetings, 1 special board meeting, 4 audit risk and compliance committee meetings and 1 special audit risk and compliance committee meeting)

6851

2519

8589

Board member, First Nations Committee chairman

Joshua Creamer

(4 board meetings, 5 sub-committee meetings)

6851

2519

8589

Board member, Audit, Risk & Compliance Committee member

Lucia Taylor

14 (10 board meetings, 1 special board meeting,
3 sub-committee meetings)

6851

1961

8077

No. scheduled
meetings/sessions

36 (12 board meetings, including 1 special board meeting and 17 sub-committee meetings, including 1 special audit risk and compliance committee meeting and 1 special accommodation committee meeting)

Total out of pocket expenses

$8261

Table 1. Legal Aid Queensland Board information 2020–21

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
  • 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 (chairperson).

The meeting is also attended by:

  • CEO Nicky Davies
  • Business Support senior director Ian Warren
  • Legal Practice senior director Peter Delibaltas
  • Chief finance officer (CFO) Gavin Holdway
  • Acting Facilities and procurement manager Jeffrey Patterson.

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.

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 2020–21 included:

  • continuing to review the charter annually to ensure ongoing effectiveness of the committee’s authority, objectives and responsibilities
  • continuing to advise on better practice governance trends
  • reviewing the 2019–20 end of financial year statements before signing by the board chairperson and CFO
  • reviewing the external auditor’s recommendations from the 2019–20 audit and 2020–21 interim audit
  • reviewing the organisation’s strategic risks register and overseeing the register’s maintenance
  • reviewing the compliance assurance tools and endorsing the ongoing bi-annual compliance reporting program.

The committee comprises:

  • Legal Aid Queensland Board member Sandra Deane (chairperson)
  • Legal Aid Queensland Board member Lucia Taylor
  • a Queensland Treasury representative
  • a Department of Justice and Attorney-General Financial Services representative
  • Jeanette Shanahan, external committee member, independent financial management, regulatory compliance and audit practices specialist.

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 Jeanette Shanahan received $2190 (including superannuation) remuneration in 2020–21.

The meeting is also attended by:

  • CEO Nicky Davies
  • Business Support senior director Ian Warren
  • CFO Gavin Holdway
  • Governance manager Stephen Shirvington.

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:

  • monitoring the First Nations Strategic Plan 2018–22
  • reporting to the board about the plan’s implementation
  • developing the First Nations Strategic Plan 2021–23
  • providing advice to the board about issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander strategies and policies.

The committee comprises:

  • Legal Aid Queensland Board member Joshua Creamer (chairperson)
  • representatives from two community organisations that provide general help to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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 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.

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 Nicky Davies
  • Legal Practice senior director Peter Delibaltas
  • Family Law and Civil Justice Services director Toni Bell
  • Acting Criminal Law Services director Kerry Bichel
  • Acting Public Defender Catherine Morgan
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • Business Support senior director Ian Warren
  • Information and Advice Services director Katrina Smith
  • CFO Gavin Holdway
  • Communication and Community Legal Education managers Miranda Greer and Amanda Catania.

The meeting is also attended by Governance manager Stephen Shirvington and Senior advisor Margaret Hornagold.

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:

  • CFO Gavin Holdway (chairperson)
  • CEO Nicky Davies
  • Legal Practice senior director Peter Delibaltas
  • Business Support senior director Ian Warren
  • Grants director Louise Martin.

The meeting is also attended by:

  • Financial Services and Business Analysis manager Melissa Gill
  • Principal financial accountant Yin Mand Ng.

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 Nicky Davies (chairperson)
  • Legal Practice senior director Peter Delibaltas
  • Business Support senior director Ian Warren
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • Information and Advice Services director Katrina Smith
  • Acting Chief information officer Paul Ninnes
  • Acting Records and Information Management manager Michael Johnston
  • a Department of Justice and Attorney-General representative.

The meeting is also attended by:

  • Communication and Community Legal Education managers Miranda Greer and Amanda Catania
  • Technical operations manager (currently vacant)
  • Business engagement manager Rae Fletcher
  • Acting Facilities and procurement manager Jeffrey Patterson.

People, Culture and Capability Committee

The People, Culture and Capability (PCC) Committee helps determine 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 committee’s responsibilities include:

  • guiding our workforce strategy development, monitoring and evaluation
  • ensuring resource levels, mix and allocation adequately support the organisation’s current and future needs
  • maintaining an awareness of PCC trends, assessing their applicability for Legal Aid Queensland and implementing initiatives for continuous improvement
  • approving new and updated PCC policies and procedures in line with the strategic framework
  • noting operational PCC metrics and key performance indicators
  • encouraging a culture of performance through active people management and development
  • ensuring the organisation complies with relevant legislation and directives.

The committee comprises:

  • CEO Nicky Davies (chairperson)
  • Legal Practice senior director Peter Delibaltas
  • Business Support senior director Ian Warren
  • Acting Criminal Law Services director Kerry Bichel
  • Grants director Louise Martin
  • Information and Advice Services director Katrina Smith
  • Family Law and Civil Justice Services director Toni Bell
  • Acting Public defender Catherine Morgan
  • Chief people officer Kelly Camden
  • Senior advisor Margaret Hornagold.

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 consultant (Work Health and Safety) Rosemary Mason (chair)
  • Business Support senior 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)
  • Criminal Law Services coordinator Patrick O’Brien (Level 3/4 – 44 Herschel St Brisbane)
  • Litigation support officer Christopher Pell (420 George St Brisbane)
  • Conference organiser Merrilyn Cox (193 North Quay Brisbane)
  • Acting Facilities and procurement manager Jeffrey Patterson
  • Senior facilities and procurement officer Delina Smail
  • Security officer
  • Consultant (payroll) 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
  • the 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.

Human Rights Act

The key provisions of the Human Rights Act 2019 began on 1 January 2020. The Act’s main objects are to:

  • protect and promote human rights
  • help build a culture in the Queensland public sector that respects and promotes human rights
  • help promote a dialogue about the nature, meaning and scope of human rights.

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:

  • implementing a Human Rights Policy
  • reviewing policies for compliance, including our case management and client service standards
  • updating internal procedures to improve alignment with the Act’s principles and requirements
  • implementing staff awareness measures and compulsory staff training.

Our complaints systems and processes ensure we can capture and effectively address any human rights complaints received. We did not receive any human rights complaints in 2020–21.

Last updated 19 October 2021

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