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Annual Report 2017 - 2018

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.

Part-time board members are appointed by the NSW Attorney General for a period of up to three years, other than the Chair who is appointed for a period up to five years. The term of the current Board members expires in June 2019.

Craig Smith continued in the role as Chair, which he has held since February 2013.

Key activities of the Board this year

The Board exercised its statutory role to set strategic policies and approved the Legal Aid NSW financial statements. It was regularly updated on progress of actions under the Legal Aid NSW Strategic Plan 2017–2018.

The Board was kept informed about key initiatives during the year and approved the Legal Aid NSW Plan 2018-2019 and the five-year Legal Aid NSW Strategic Plan 2018-2023 as well as Legal Aid NSW Elder Abuse Strategy 2018-2020.

The Board approved the establishment of the Indictable Criminal Law Panel for solicitors appearing in committal matters under the Early Appropriate Guilty Pleas Reform and the fee scales for solicitors appearing in committal matters under the Early Appropriate Guilty Pleas Reform.

The Board re-established the Crime and Grants Sub Committee established under section 68 of the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 (NSW), to examine fees paid to private practitioners undertaking legally aided work.

The Board also approved a number of changes to the eligibility policies so that the means test and contributions policy do not apply to matters being dealt with under the National Disability Insurance Scheme or to children seeking legal aid for criminal law proceedings.

The Board approved a new Board Charter and Code of Conduct. It also approved a new charter for the Audit and Risk Committee, which reviewed Legal Aid NSW financial statements and oversaw its internal audit program. It also commissioned an update to its risk assessment and fraud and corruption control plan. The Board also welcomed the appointment of new Deputy CEO, Monique Hitter in late June 2018.

Meetings of the Board

The Board held eight meetings in 2017–2018, including one out of session meeting to approve Community Legal Centre funding allocation for 2018-2019.

25% of the Board’s time was spent on reviewing finance and operational reports and considering matters raised by the Audit and Risk Committee, 60% per cent of its time was taken up by determining policies and strategies, and the remaining 15% per cent of Board time was spent on background briefings.

Board members’ fees

Part-time Board members are entitled to be paid fees for attending meetings, reading background papers, sitting on committees and representing Legal Aid NSW at meetings with other organisations. No fees are paid to members who are salaried Government employees or who choose not to be paid.

Active on committees

The Board is advised by the Crime and Grants Sub- Committee and Audit and Risk Committee which advises on budgetary and internal audit matters.

calendar iconThe year ahead

  • Overseeing the implementation of the first year of the Legal Aid NSW Strategic Plan 2018-2023.
  • Reviewing the eligibility and contributions policies of Legal Aid NSW.