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Annual Report 2010 - 2011

Legal Aid NSW Board

A Board with 10 members determines our broad policies and strategic priorities.

The Board of Legal Aid NSW consists of nine part-time members including the Chair, and one full-time member, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid NSW.

They bring a diversity of skills and perspectives to their role.

Part-time Board members are appointed by the NSW Attorney General for a maximum of three years.

Major achievements

The Board welcomed the Attorney General, the Hon Greg Smith SC, to the first Board meeting following the State election, at which he spoke about the new Government’s priorities for the justice system.

The Board also oversaw the implementation of changes to the executive structure, and the implementation of the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services.

Much of the Board’s attention was devoted to provision of quality services, with Board members providing strategic oversight of the implementation of recommendations arising from the Advocates and Senior Advocates Review, changes to criminal law fee scales for the complex criminal trials and criminal appellate matters panels, and the review of the Family Dispute Resolution Service.

The Board approved a number of policy amendments that are aligned with the Corporate Plan priorities of social inclusion and access to justice. These included:

  • amendments to the Children’s Court policy, following amendments to the Education Act 1990, to enable representation in compulsory schooling order matters in the Children’s Court;
  • revised policy and guidelines on public interest human rights matters;
  • amendments to criminal and civil law policies so that legal aid is available for preventative detention and prohibited contact order matters when a Supreme Court order has been made under s 26PA of the Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2002 (NSW);
  • amendments to the criminal law policy, to make legal aid available for applications to revoke or vary detention or extended supervision orders under the Crimes (Serious Sex Offenders) Act 2006; and
  • changes to family law policy, to support the involvement of Legal Aid NSW in pilots of alternative dispute resolution in care and protection matters, as recommended by the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services.

There were no emergency decisions required during the year.

Board members’ fees

Part-time Board members are entitled to be paid fees for their work in attending meetings, reading background papers, sitting on committees and representing Legal Aid NSW at meetings with other organisations. The rates of remuneration are $3,370 per annum for members and $28,080 p.a. for the Chair. The Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee is also paid an additional $2,527 p.a. for chairing this committee. No fees are paid to members who are salaried Government employees or who elect to forego payment.

Committees

The Board is advised on specific matters by a number of committees. These include the Audit and Risk Committee, which advises on budgetary and internal audit matters. Details of these committees are included in Appendix 13.

In 2010-2011 Barbara Ramjan joined the Community Legal Centres Sub-Committee that was chaired by Rev Harry Herbert. Maria Girdler was a member of the Civil Law Sub-Committee, the Community Legal Centres Sub-Committee and the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program Advisory Committee. Andrea Durbach chaired the Civil Law Sub-Committee whilst Ian McClintock was a member of the Grants Committee, chaired by Mary Macken.

Planning ahead

Year ahead

Ensure that legal aid services are aligned with changes to laws, procedures and services introduced by the new State Government.