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 Our purpose

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A just and secure society through the maintenance and improvement of Australia’s law, justice, security and integrity frameworks.

To achieve our purpose, we provide legal services and advice and deliver legislation, policy and programs to maintain and improve Australia’s law and justice frameworks. These activities affect the lives of everyone in Australia and Australians overseas.

Our corporate plan details the activities within our strategic priorities that we will deliver and the changes we will make to maintain the rule of law.

Table 1 shows the relationship between Corporate Plan 2017–21 strategic priorities and the programs in the 2017–18 Portfolio Budget Statements.

Our performance statement reports against these strategic priorities and outlines the achievements and progress of key activities for this year.

On 18 July 2017, the Prime Minister announced ministerial and machinery-of-government changes to reform Australia’s national intelligence and domestic security arrangements. This affected the Attorney-General’s Department and portfolio agencies. The reforms included establishing a Home Affairs portfolio, establishing the Australian Signals Directorate as an independent agency in the Defence portfolio and enhancing the Attorney-General’s oversight of Australia’s intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies. Changes were made to the Administrative Arrangements Orders on 20 December 2017 and 10 May 2018 to reflect these changes.

Table 1: Corporate Plan 2017–21 strategic priorities mapped to 2017–18 Portfolio Budget Statements objectives
Strategic priority Portfolio Budget Statements programs Responsible program delivery channel

1: Legal
Support the Attorney-General as First Law Officer, including by providing high-quality legal services to the Commonwealth

Program 1.1 Civil Justice and Corporate Services
Program 1.2 Criminal Justice and National Security
Program 1.3 Australian Government Solicitor
Program 1.9 Royal Commissions

2: Security
Protect Australia by delivering effective national security policies, legislation and programs

Program 1.2 Criminal Justice and National Security

3: Justice
Maintain an efficient and effective Commonwealth justice system

Program 1.1 Civil Justice and Corporate Services
Program 1.4 Justice Services
Program 1.6 Indigenous Legal and Native Title Assistance
Program 1.9 Royal Commissions

4: Crime
Pursue national responses to serious and organised crime, and improve community safety

Program 1.2 Criminal Justice and National Security

5: Rights
Enable a free society with balanced rights, freedoms and responsibilities

Program 1.1 Civil Justice and Corporate Services
Program 1.4 Justice Services
Program 1.5 Family Relationships
Program 1.6 Indigenous Legal and Native Title Assistance

Adapted from Attorney-General’s Department Corporate Plan 2017–21, page 21.

Measuring our performance

The objective of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) is to provide a coherent system of governance and accountability for public resources, with an emphasis on planning, performance and reporting.
Section 46 of the PGPA Act requires that the annual report include an annual performance statement. This annual performance statement reflects the results achieved against the performance criteria set out in the Corporate Plan and Portfolio Budget Statements for this reporting period.

Machinery-of-government changes

Under section 17A of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014, where a function or office is transferred between entities as a result of machinery-of-government changes, the gaining entity takes responsibility for the mandatory reporting requirements under the PGPA Act for those functions.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of machinery-of-government changes on 18 July 2017, all functions under Strategic Priority 6 (Providing national leadership in emergency management) included in our 2017-21 Corporate Plan have transferred to the Department of Home Affairs. Some functions and activities under Strategic Priority 2 and Strategic Priority 4 have also transferred to the Department of Home Affairs. This annual performance statement does not report on those functions and activities that have transferred to the Department of Home Affairs.

Some functions transferred from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to the Attorney-General’s Department. Performance information about those functions is not included in this performance statement as they were not the subject of performance measures in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s 2017-21 Corporate Plan.

Strategic priorities

The priorities that remain following machinery-of-government changes for 2017–21 are:

  1. support the Attorney-General as First Law Officer, including by providing high-quality legal services to the Commonwealth (Strategic Priority 1 on page 22)
  2. protect Australia by delivering effective national security policies, legislation and programs (Strategic Priority 2 on page 32)
  3. maintain an efficient and effective Commonwealth justice system (Strategic Priority 3 on page 39)
  4. pursue national responses to serious and organised crime, and improve community safety (Strategic Priority 4 on page 51)
  5. enable a free society with balanced rights, freedoms and responsibilities (Strategic Priority 5 on page 59).

Measuring achievement

The Corporate Plan 2017–21 (page 7) outlines the key performance indicators used to measure achievement of the strategic priorities.

The key performance indicators are:

  • our effectiveness in achieving objectives
  • our efficiency in meeting goals
  • our professionalism, skills and commitment
  • our community impact.

2018 stakeholder survey

An independently conducted stakeholder survey was undertaken in May 2018. The results help to assess the levels of satisfaction our partners and external stakeholders have when working with us. A range of stakeholders including Australian, state and territory government agencies, courts, tribunals, legal assistance services, private industry, academia and non-government organisations were invited to participate.

The survey sought stakeholder views on:

  • overall performance – the effectiveness and efficiency in achieving our objectives and the professionalism, skills and commitment of departmental staff
  • effectiveness – the timeliness, quality and consistency of information and advice, focus on the priority issues for government and commitment to problem-solving
  • relationship with the organisation – how well the department understands, collaborates with, listens to and supports stakeholder organisations
  • staffing – the levels of skill and expertise of employees and their accessibility
  • leadership – the quality of the department’s leadership, vision and clarity of purpose
  • results and delivery – whether the department is results-oriented, committed to continuous improvement, makes evidence-based decisions, is an active contributor to whole-of-government initiatives, achieves outcomes and manages risk appropriately.

Stakeholder survey percentages for Strategic Priority 2 and Strategic Priority 4 include results for a function that transferred to the Department of Home Affairs under the change to the Administrative Arrangements Order on 10 May 2017. The results for this function are consistent with the satisfaction ratings given for other areas that contribute to the delivery of these strategic priorities. More detail can be found under the heading for each strategic priority.

Other measures

We refer to the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index that measures the rule of law adherence in 113 countries and jurisdictions worldwide. The index reflects how the rule of law is perceived and experienced by a country’s population and in-country experts. Some of these factors may not directly relate to all aspects of the department’s activities and our community impact. However, we consider them meaningful as they are indicators of the perceived long-term and broad health of Australia’s justice and security systems (which is influenced by the activities of the department, albeit only in part) and the matters that communities regard as important.

We also measure performance through specific measures relevant to Strategic Priority 3 and Strategic Priority 5.

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