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Annual Report 2009-10 Management and accountability

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Chapter 9 Corporate governance

The Attorney-General’s Department’s governance framework includes appropriate committee and oversight structures, risk management, strategic and business planning, project management, business continuity, performance management, audit and evaluation and financial management.

Left to right: Roger Wilkins AO, Elizabeth Kelly, Miles Jordana and Renée Leon. 

Left to right: Roger Wilkins AO,
Elizabeth Kelly, Miles Jordana and
Renée Leon.

Senior leadership

Secretary

Roger Wilkins AO

Deputy secretaries

Renée Leon, Strategic Policy and Coordination Group

Elizabeth Kelly, Civil Justice and Legal Services Group—since 7 June 2010

Ian Govey, Civil Justice and Legal Services Group—until 25 March 2010

Miles Jordana, National Security and Criminal Justice Group

First assistant secretaries

Iain Anderson, Criminal Justice Division

Bill Campbell QC, Office of International Law

Kym Duggan PSM, Priorities and Coordination Division

James Graham, Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing

Maggie Jackson, International Crime Cooperation Division

Katherine Jones, Social Inclusion Division

Stephen Lutze, Finance and Property Division

Geoff McDonald PSM, National Security Law and Policy Division

Mike Norris, National Security Capability Development Division

Alison Playford, Access to Justice Division

James Popple, Civil Law Division

Mike Rothery, National Security Resilience Policy Division

Hilary Russell, People, Information and Technology Division

Martin Studdert AM, Emergency Management Australia Division

Julian Yates, Territories Division

The governance framework

The core elements of the Department’s governance framework are:

  • Secretary’s Leadership Group
  • Departmental Operations Executive Committee
  • Audit and Risk Management Committee
  • Information Technology Strategy Committee, and
  • Information and Communication Technology Improvement Committee.

Other important elements include the business resilience framework (business continuity, risk management and fraud control), performance reporting (financial and non-financial) and business planning processes, including the strategic plan.

Figure 6: Planning and performance framework, 2009–10

Figure 6: Planning and performance framework, 2009-10 

Senior management committees

The Secretary’s Leadership Group comprises the Secretary and the three Deputy Secretaries. It provides advice to the Secretary on key strategic matters of corporate importance and sets the Department’s strategic direction. The Group has a leadership role in managing departmental achievements against Portfolio Budget Statements and the Strategic Plan. The Group meets weekly.

The Departmental Operations Executive Committee exists to foster strategic debate on a range of issues of corporate importance, provide guidance on risk and performance and advice on major corporate issues to be considered by the Secretary’s Leadership Group. The Deputy Secretary, Strategic Policy and Coordination Group, chairs the Committee. Membership includes the other two Deputy Secretaries and each First Assistant Secretary. The Committee meets fortnightly.

The Audit and Risk Management Committee advises the Secretary on the Department’s systems of internal controls, risk management (including fraud risk), financial reporting, compliance with laws, and internal and external audit matters. The Committee comprises a chair, who is external to the Department, and four members, one of whom is external to the Department. The Committee met six times during 2009–10 (Table 21). The Secretary; the General Manager, People, Information and Technology Division; the Chief Financial Officer; the Chief Audit Executive and the Australian National Audit Office were represented at all meetings.

Table 21: Audit Committee membership and meeting attendance 2009–10

Member Role Meetings eligible to attend Meetings attended
Will Laurie Independent Chair 6 6
Jennifer Clark External member 6 6
Elizabeth Kelly (until March 2010) Internal member 5 4
Andrew Walter Internal member 6 6
Iain Anderson (from June 2010) Internal member 1 1
Tony Pearce (until March 2010) Internal member 5 2

The Information Technology Strategy Committee is the Department’s peak information and communication technology governance body, established by the Secretary to deliver a clear strategic approach to the Department’s overall information and communication technology infrastructure in terms of investment and governance. The Committee monitors information technology activities from a business perspective. The General Manager of the People, Information and Technology Division chairs the Committee, and membership includes two deputy secretaries (or nominees), each First Assistant Secretary and senior representatives from the information technology branches. The Committee meets quarterly.

The Information and Communication Technology Improvement Committee is a subcommittee of the Information Technology Strategy Committee, providing advice on the alignment of information and communication technology projects and initiatives with business drivers and directions. The Committee evaluates business proposals received from the divisions and branches before they are considered by the Information Technology Strategy Committee. It is a forum for communication between the information technology and business areas of the Department. The Committee meets monthly.

Planning and review

Strategic and business planning

The strategic and business planning framework aligns the Department’s activities with priorities set by the Australian Government.

The Department has instituted a disciplined strategic and business planning process to identify priorities and objectives for the year ahead in accordance with direction from the Attorney-General, the Minister for Home Affairs and the Secretary. Cascading down from the Department’s strategic plan, and divisional and branch business plans, are individual work plans, which articulate employees’ performance expectations and capability gaps. The work plans are a core component of the Department’s performance improvement program.

The value of this business planning process is integration between all levels of planning in the Department and individual performance management. The Department can clearly demonstrate links between the Strategic Plan and the division business plans, branch plans and individual work plans.

The Department has recently increased resourcing of the function of strategic and business planning through creation of a Strategic Planning and Governance Unit.

Business continuity management

The Department conducted two business continuity exercises in 2009–10 and provided advice to portfolio and other agencies on business continuity management.

The most recent exercise (conducted in February 2010) focused on a projected loss of facilities in the event of a major fire at 3–5 National Circuit. This exercise resulted in recommendations designed to enhance the capability of the Department’s crisis management arrangements.

In an earlier staged event, a series of 14 influenza pandemic exercises was conducted across the Department. The aim was to focus awareness on roles and responsibilities in managing business disruption events, particularly at the divisional or individual business unit level.

In addition to these exercises, the Department completed a project to identify and catalogue records likely to be vital for management of ongoing departmental business.

Risk management

The Department’s risk management framework aims to embed efficient and effective risk management practices into departmental business activities.

A review of the Department’s risk framework was completed in late 2009, resulting in development of a Strategic Risk Register, adoption of the AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Risk Management standard and alignment of risk planning with broader business planning processes.

The Secretary’s Leadership Group approved the Strategic Risk Register in December 2009. The register focuses on high-level risks that could affect achievement of the Department’s overall outcomes, programs and priorities, as well as assigning risk ownership to the Department’s senior leadership. Each Division of the Department supports identification and management of risk at the operational level by considering the register’s risk categories when developing their business plans.

In April 2010, the Department hosted the first of an ongoing series of portfolio risk forums, at which 16 portfolio agencies discussed topics such as fraud risk control and business continuity risks.

Fraud control

The Department reviewed its fraud control plan in December 2009 in compliance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines. The Department’s internal auditor reviewed the plan and associated fraud control management system. The Audit and Risk Management Committee subsequently adopted the plan and the management system.

The Department also redeveloped its fraud awareness training as a stand-alone module, commencing in June 2010. Since then, 128 staff have undertaken this training.

During the reporting period, four instances of fraud involving attendance and leave records were detected and managed by the Department’s Case Management Unit.

CERTIFICATION OF DEPARTMENTAL FRAUD CONTROL ARRANGEMENTS

I, Roger Wilkins, certify that I am satisfied that for 2009–10, the Attorney-General’s Department has had:

  • appropriate fraud risk assessments and a fraud control plan prepared that comply with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines
  • appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation and reporting procedures and processes in place, and
  • annual fraud data collected and reported in compliance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines.

Signature: Roger Wilkins AO 

Roger Wilkins AO
Secretary
14 September 2010

Internal audit arrangements

The Department’s Audit and Risk Management Committee is appointed by, and is responsible to, the Secretary. It advises the Secretary on the Department’s:

  • systems of internal control
  • risk management, including fraud risk
  • financial reporting and control of public money and assets
  • compliance with relevant laws, rules, regulations and directions, and
  • internal and external audit matters.

Since 1 July 2002, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu has performed the internal audit and evaluation function under an outsourced arrangement overseen by the Audit and Risk Management Committee and the Chief Audit Executive. An option was exercised to renew the arrangement for a further year from 1 July 2010.

Audits considered by the Audit and Risk Management Committee

In 2009–10 the Audit and Risk Management Committee considered a range of internal audit reports including:

  • implementation of selected information technology systems
  • management of federal offenders
  • operation of the National Capability Training Centres
  • financial systems reporting and controls
  • training and development programs, and
  • fraud controls and spot checks.

Conduct and ethics

The Attorney-General’s Department Agreement 2007 contains a commitment by the parties to uphold the Australian Public Service (APS) Values and to comply with the APS Code of Conduct. The Department offers online training on the Values and Code of Conduct, to all staff. All new staff are encouraged to complete the online training module and to access the Australian Public Service Commission induction module Your Guide to Working in the Australian Public Service. All new employees are provided with a copy of the APS Values and Code of Conduct, as well as relevant excerpts from the Crimes Act 1914 and must sign a statement asserting that they have read and understood these provisions.

In addition, Senior Executive Service (SES) employees are provided with a copy of the publication APS Values and Code of Conduct in practice: a guide to official conduct for APS employees and agency heads.

The APS Values, Code of Conduct, Chief Executive’s Instructions and other material relevant to ethical conduct are incorporated, as appropriate, into relevant departmental policies, guidelines and instructions and are available on the Department’s intranet.

Service charters

The Department’s client service charter outlines how the Department interacts with the public and the level of service provided. The charter is reviewed regularly, and comments and complaints regarding service levels are encouraged. The charter is available at <http://ag.aglink.ag.gov.au>.

In addition, the AusCheck Service Charter was released on 20 August 2009. It aims to describe to the public and to the aviation and maritime communities the service experience they expect from AusCheck. The charter is available from the national security and counter-terrorism section at <http://ag.aglink.ag.gov.au>.

A report of the service charter operations is at Appendix 4.

Senior Executive Service remuneration

In line with the Government’s Employment Bargaining Framework, the Department’s Senior Executive Service (SES) employees engaged since February 2008 have remuneration and other conditions of employment established under common law contracts. SES engaged before that date had conditions established by Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) made under the Workplace Relations Act 1996. Further information about SES remuneration appears in Chapter 12.

Media and communication

The Public Affairs Branch is responsible for providing strategic communication advice and services to the Department.

During 2009–10, the Branch developed and implemented information products and public awareness projects to support a wide range of government policies, programs and Council of Australian Governments (COAG) initiatives.

The Branch dealt with 416 media releases and handled 789 media enquiries. It helped areas of the Department prepare 45 speeches for the Attorney-General and Minister for Home Affairs until 28 September 2009, when primary responsibility for developing speeches was transferred to line areas.

The Branch also helped plan and organise numerous media events and public launches ranging from Australia-wide acknowledgement of the voluntary work of emergency service personnel to the announcement of reforms in the criminal, civil justice and national security areas.

In 2009–10, extensive planning was undertaken for Mercury 10, a major multijurisdictional counter-terrorism exercise. This exercise is scheduled to take place in August 2010, and will test public communication, messaging and media response arrangements as part of a wider range of strategic objectives.

The Chemicals of Security Concern Campaign was launched on 3 December 2009 and is a component of COAG’s Chemical Security Management Framework. It aims to inform and build public vigilance to help jurisdictional police and security agencies deter and/or detect the use of chemicals for terrorist purposes.

The National Security Public Information Campaign, now in its eighth year, continued in 2009–10. The campaign comprised radio, internet and print advertising during May and June 2010. In addition to the national distribution of new public information materials, fact sheets, press and radio advertisements were translated into 32 languages for use in culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

The Personal Property Securities communication activities support a COAG initiative to develop a new online national registration system for personal property securities. The website for the Personal Property Securities Register was launched on 9 June 2010.

The Sexual Offences Against Children communication activities were developed to raise awareness of legislative changes pertaining to child sexual abuse; and to deter Australians from undertaking child sexual offences domestically and internationally. They comprised national press advertising, online search advertising and airport signage.

The Public Affairs Branch worked closely with other areas of the Department in planning, developing and establishing the new Crisis Coordination Centre, particularly in relation to the public communication and messaging functions. The Crisis Coordination Centre will strengthen the Government’s capability to respond to crises of national significance.

The Branch introduced an improved internal communication strategy. Improvements included a revamped ‘Departmental News’ intranet site and associated e-newsletter and development of new branding for several internal committees, networks and programs. The Branch also created a ‘Communication Toolbox’ comprising templates, advice, information guides and protocols on media liaison, media monitoring, departmental writing style, branding, corporate style, advertising, publications, speeches, event management, photography and internal communication.

Reconciliation Action Plan and Reconciliation Committee

The Reconciliation Committee promotes and implements the objectives of the Reconciliation Action Plan. Committee members include representatives from the Department’s Indigenous Network, a self-determined forum run by departmental Indigenous employees. The Committee includes representatives of the Departmental Operations Executive Committee, other senior managers, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff from across the Divisions. The Committee meets quarterly.

The Reconciliation Action Plan identifies the steps the Department will take to build relationships and enhance the respect it has for Indigenous Australians in carrying out its business. The principles that inform the Reconciliation Action Plan are respect, relationships and opportunities. The Reconciliation Action Plan can be viewed online in the publications section of <http://ag.aglink.ag.gov.au>.

In 2009–10, the Department took a lead role in establishing the Cross Portfolio Reconciliation Network with the goals of:

  • increasing Indigenous representation on working groups across the portfolio
  • discussing and sharing reconciliation action plans
  • identifying common reconciliation actions leading to creation of annual working groups, and
  • utilising resources across the portfolio to maximise outcomes.

The Department conducted workshops on cultural awareness and participated in the Australian Public Service Commission Indigenous Entry Level Recruitment program.

The Department encourages staff to take part in events of significance to Indigenous people including Sorry Day, Mabo Day, National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week, and in so doing, help celebrate the vibrancy and enduring influence of Australia’s Indigenous people.

Information technology and management

The Department manages information technology using a formal governance framework consisting of the:

  • Departmental Operations Executive Committee and Secretary’s Leadership Group
  • Information Technology Strategy Committee, and
  • Information and Communication Technology Improvement Committee.

The Department is progressing a number of activities that will strengthen its information technology governance. These activities include:

  • introduction of the Portfolio, Program, Projects Management Maturity Model as a whole-of-government compliance methodology
  • enhancement of the Project Management Office
  • development of a project management framework using the PRINCE2 methodology
  • ongoing review of the Department’s Enterprise Architecture
  • use of COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and related Technology), and
  • development of an Information and Communication Technology Strategic Plan.

During 2009–10, information technology services and infrastructure delivered by the People, Information and Technology Division contributed directly to managing emergency crisis responses, access to justice, the Personal Property Securities Register, the National Security Hotline, AusCheck, film and literature classification, and a range of collaborative interagency exercises, including creation of the whole-of-portfolio Chief Information Officers Committee to further collaboration and cooperation across the Attorney-General’s portfolio.

Information technology infrastructure

The Department’s wide area network links 16 Canberra locations, the Emergency Management Australia Institute in Mount Macedon, and offices in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Norfolk Island and Jervis Bay.

The Information Communications and Technology Operations Branch successfully completed major upgrades and enhancements to the Department’s voice systems, storage environments and gateway capability to enhance public-facing services.

The Department improved delivery of services to internal and external clients by creating a more sustainable information and communication technology (ICT) environment, improving our green ICT profile, and reducing expenditure on infrastructure replacement while maintaining and improving capability. A technology refresh of the ICT infrastructure in the Indian Ocean Territories, Jervis Bay and Norfolk Island was completed in 2010. The Territories upgrade delivered improved communication services and direct benefits to the citizens on Christmas and Cocos islands through delivery of enhanced ICT capability for medical services.

Pacific ‘twinning’

The Department, through the AusAID Pacific Public Sector Linkages Program, provides assistance to Pacific law libraries throughout the Pacific region.

The Department coordinates the Pacific Law Library Twinning Program. The program builds linkages through the Pacific law library community, and through it, closer cooperation with law and justice sector agencies across the Pacific region. Sixteen Pacific regional law agency libraries are twinned with law libraries in Australia.

Following the inaugural regional workshop for Pacific law librarians in Vanuatu in May 2009, a second workshop for the Pacific Islands Law Library Community is planned to be held in Samoa in 2011.

Staff from the People, Information and Technology Division worked with the Samoan Supreme Court and the Tongan Crown Law Office during June 2010 to provide assistance and advice following the recent relocation of their libraries. The in-country assistance aims to increase the effectiveness of legal information management and research in ‘twinned’ agencies. The Department’s Lionel Murphy Library has been ‘twinned’ with law office libraries in Samoa, Tonga and Nauru since 1992.

Project Management Office

The Project Management Office within the People, Information and Technology Division aims to increase the level of project management discipline within the Department’s corporate areas and more generally across the organisation.

The new Project Management Framework, developed to suit most projects carried out within the Department, was implemented in October 2009. The Framework is based on PRINCE2 project management methodologies. A range of templates, adapted from the standard PRINCE2 templates, support the central project management process and help the Department organise, plan and control projects.

Corrections to errors

The following statements in the Attorney-General’s Department 2008–09 Annual Report were identified as incorrect:

  • On pages 41 and 44, the number of marriage celebrants appointed was reported as 2,998. The correct number is 3,003.
  • On page 44, in Table 4: Performance indicators, Output 1.1—Family law, federal courts and tribunals, civil procedure and alternative dispute resolution, the figures reported for marriage celebrant applications processed in 2007–08 and 2008–09 are incorrect. The following table provides the correct figures:
  2007–08 2008–09
  As reported Correct
information
As reported Correct
information
Marriage celebrant applications processed 1,519 1,553 2,808 4,076
  • On page 95, in Table 11: Performance indicators, Output 1.7—Indigenous law and justice and legal assistance, it was incorrectly stated that the number of clients for 2008–09 was 210,072. The correct number of services was 189,752.
  • On page 213, in Table 24: Staffing trends, 2004–05 to 2008–09, the numbers of staff in SES classifications were incorrect due to acting arrangements as at 30 June 2009. The following table provides the correct figures:
  2008–09
  As reported Correct
information
SES 94 77
EL 1 and 2 equivalent 625 642
APS 1–6 equivalent 826 826
Total excluding casuals 1,510 1,510
  • Subsequently, the tables on page 341 and 343 respectively, relating to staffing by classification and employment status as at 30 June 2009 were incorrect due to acting arrangements as at 30 June 2009. The correct figures are reported in the revised tables provided in Appendix 8.

Adrian Andrews, Territories Division; Tara Manning, Criminal Justice Division; and Hilary Russell, People, Information and Technology Division. 

Adrian Andrews, Territories Division;
Tara Manning, Criminal Justice Division;
and Hilary Russell, People, Information
and Technology Division

Our people

Promoting Indigenous reconciliation across the portfolio

through collaboration we will achieve better results

As part of the new Cross-Portfolio Reconciliation Network, agencies across the portfolio are working together to help increase cultural awareness and workforce participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

As Hilary Russell, General Manager of the People, Information and Technology Division, explains, ‘All participating agencies, particularly the smaller ones with fewer resources, share the view that through collaboration we will achieve better results.’

Network member Tara Manning values the opportunity to liaise with portfolio colleagues through this important group, established by the Department in November 2009. She has also enjoyed her role in planning events to showcase traditional Indigenous culture.

‘The Network provides the opportunity for portfolio staff to engage and network with each other by attending Indigenous-centred events such as Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week celebrations,’ Tara said.

‘It was fulfilling to be part of planning something that the Department and portfolio agencies could enjoy.

‘I think it’s really important to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and provide a chance for all Australians to recognise the contributions our Indigenous people make.’

‘After the success of NAIDOC week, we hope next year’s activities will involve more portfolio-wide events,’ said Hilary.

‘We are also sharing our Reconciliation Action Plans with each other and specifically looking at shared approaches to mentoring, recruitment and training.’

Adrian Andrews, a member of the Reconciliation Action Plan committee, also believes this work is extremely important.

‘By consulting with Indigenous staff across the portfolio and updating our action plans, the Department will work towards achieving the target of 2.7 per cent of our employees being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander by 2015,’ Adrian explained.

‘I think it’s vital that senior staff get behind things such as the Reconciliation Action Plan,’ added Hilary. ‘We are fortunate to have terrific support from our Secretary and all Deputy Secretaries on these issues.’


Chapter 10 External scrutiny

During 2009–10, the Department’s operations were subject to external scrutiny from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), the courts, parliamentary committees, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, the Australian Human Rights Commission, the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission and the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services.

Australian National Audit Office reports

Audit of fraud control in Australian Government agencies

The Auditor-General undertook a cross-agency performance audit to assess the effectiveness of Australian Government agencies’ fraud control arrangements, and the role of the Department in administering the Australian Government fraud control policy. The audit surveyed 160 agencies.

The report of the performance audit was tabled in Parliament on 27 May 2010. The Department supported all recommendations outlined in the report, noting that the audit provides a valuable contribution to the ongoing review of the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines.

Audit of the National Identity Security Strategy

As part of the ANAO’s 2009–10 Audit Work Program, the Auditor-General undertook a performance audit of the Department’s arrangements for coordinating development of the National Identity Security Strategy. The performance audit assessed the effectiveness of these arrangements. The strategy, when developed and implemented, was intended to provide a framework for intergovernmental cooperation to strengthen Australia’s personal identification processes.

The report of the performance audit was tabled in Parliament on 21 April 2010. The Department accepted all recommendations and has commenced work to implement them.

Audit of security awareness and training

The Auditor-General undertook a cross-agency performance audit of five Australian Government organisations, including the Department. The audit assessed the effectiveness of security awareness and training, including whether the organisations addressed selected security issues from the Protective Security Manual.

The report of the performance audit was tabled in Parliament on 15 April 2010. The Department supported all recommendations, noting the importance of strengthening the security awareness and training regimes within the audited organisations and across government.

Report on the audit of the National Security Hotline

In 2009, the ANAO began a performance audit of the operation of the National Security Hotline. The objectives of the audit were to assess whether:

(a) the Attorney-General’s Department effectively manages the operation of the National Security Hotline, and

(b) the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation have effective procedures in place to deal with incoming referrals from the National Security Hotline.

The ANAO completed its audit of the Hotline during 2009–10; however, because the Audit Report is yet to be tabled in Parliament, the findings will be reported in our next annual report.

Audit of Northern Territory Night Patrols

The ANAO commenced a performance audit to assess the administrative effectiveness of the Department’s management of Northern Territory Night Patrols (part of the Australian Government’s Northern Territory Emergency Response announced on 21 June 2007). The Northern Territory Night Patrols are delivered through the Prevention, Diversion, Rehabilitation and Restorative Justice Program. The performance audit is expected to be finalised in late 2010.

Audit of the Aviation and Maritime Security Identification Regime (AusCheck)

In 2010, the ANAO commenced a performance audit to assess the effectiveness of the management of AusCheck, within the Department, in coordinating background criminal and security checks of applicants for an Aviation Security Intelligence Card, and/or a Maritime Security Identification Card. The performance audit is expected to be finalised in early 2011.

Audit of the Family Relationship Centre Initiative

In 2009, the ANAO commenced a performance audit to assess the effectiveness of the implementation, operation and monitoring of the Family Relationship Centre Initiative. While jointly funded by the Department, and the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), the initiative is administered by FaHCSIA. The performance audit is expected to be finalised in July 2010.

Emergency Management Australia (Audit Report No. 27 2007–08)

Recommendation 5 paragraph 5.31 of Audit Report No. 27 relating to the current review of the Australian Government Overseas Disaster Assistance Plan (AUSASSISTPLAN) was scheduled for final implementation by 30 June 2010.

The Department has been reviewing the AUSASSISTPLAN in collaboration with the main stakeholders—the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Government Overseas Aid Program (AusAID). A first draft of the plan has been in development since early 2010, however due to ongoing natural disasters in the Pacific region, notably concerning Tonga and the Cook Islands, the plan was unable to be finalised by 30 June.

A first draft of the plan was distributed to stakeholders in early June 2010 and it is anticipated that the approved AUSASSISTPLAN will be distributed to stakeholders by 31 July 2010.

Judicial decisions

Republic of Croatia v Daniel Snedden [2010] HCA 14

In 2006, Croatia sought the extradition of Mr Daniel Snedden (also known as Dragan Vasiljkovic) from Australia to face prosecution for three war crimes offences allegedly committed during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Australian Federal Police arrested Mr Snedden on 19 January 2006. In April 2007, a New South Wales magistrate found Mr Snedden eligible for surrender to Croatia. The Federal Court affirmed the magistrate’s order in February 2009.

On 2 September 2009, the Full Federal Court allowed Mr Snedden’s appeal. The Full Federal Court found Mr Snedden had established substantial grounds for believing an extradition objection existed within the meaning of s 7(c) of the Extradition Act 1988, in particular, that on surrender to Croatia he might be punished by reason of his political opinions. The Full Federal Court accepted a submission on behalf of Mr Snedden that Croatian courts applied service in the Homeland War in the Croatian armed forces as a mitigating factor in sentencing, that the mitigating factor applied by reason of a person’s political beliefs and that Mr Snedden would, if convicted, be imprisoned for a longer period than a Croatian counterpart.

The High Court granted the Republic of Croatia special leave to appeal the Full Federal Court’s decision. On 30 March 2010, following the hearing of the appeal, in a unanimous decision of the seven justices, orders were pronounced allowing the appeal and confirming the orders of the Magistrate of 12 April 2007. On 19 May 2010 the High Court published its reasons.

The High Court found that the evidence of Mr Snedden’s political opinions and his motivation to join the Serbian forces was insufficient to make out an objection under s 7(c). It was necessary for Mr Snedden to show that the practice of the Croatian courts in applying the mitigating factor operated by reference to a person’s political opinions, and no such conclusion could be drawn from the evidence. The High Court also held that it was not demonstrated on the evidence that Mr Snedden’s ineligibility for the application of the mitigating factor was a punishment.

The High Court’s decision is significant because it confirms that for a person to establish an extradition objection under s 7(c) it is necessary to demonstrate the requisite causal link between the political opinion and the punishment to which the person may be liable upon surrender.

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v Zhang [2009] FCAFC 129 (24 September 2009)

Mr Zhang challenged the validity of a decision by the delegate of the Attorney-General to cancel a criminal justice certificate issued in respect of him. The criminal justice certificate was issued on advice from the then Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) that Mr Zhang was required in Australia to be a witness in an investigation into Migration Act 1958 offences.

The effect of the certificate was to stay Mr Zhang’s removal from Australia and enable a criminal justice visa to be issued by the delegate of the Minister for Immigration to Mr Zhang.

The Attorney-General’s delegate cancelled the criminal justice certificate under s 162(1) of the Act on advice from DIMIA that Mr Zhang was no longer required to give evidence in the proceedings for which the criminal justice certificate was issued. The cancellation of the criminal justice certificate resulted in cancellation of the criminal justice visa granted to Mr Zhang, and he became an unlawful non-citizen.

On 12 May 2009, the Federal Magistrates Court held that the decision to cancel a criminal justice certificate is a decision of a kind that attracts the requirement of natural justice and that the failure to afford Mr Zhang a hearing or opportunity to make submissions as to why the criminal justice certificate should not be cancelled constituted a breach of natural justice.

On 24 September 2009, the Full Federal Court allowed the Minister for Immigration’s and the Attorney-General’s appeal from the Magistrate’s decision. The Full Federal Court found that the rules of natural justice did not apply to cancellation of a criminal justice certificate under s 162(1) of the Migration Act and that a person affected by the grant of a certificate or its cancellation has no personal interest in it and no right to be heard. The Full Federal Court also found that the language of s 162(1) is directed to a fact whether the person’s presence is no longer required. If that fact is established, the Attorney-General is to cancel the certificate. No discretion is involved at that point.

On 12 March 2010, the High Court refused Mr Zhang’s application for special leave to appeal the decision of the Full Federal court (see Zhang v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship & Anor [2010] HCA Trans 61 (12 March 2010)).

The decision is significant because it confirms that the rules of natural justice do not apply to cancellation of a criminal justice certificate.

The Queen v LK; The Queen v RK [2010] HCA 17 (26 May 2010)

In May 2008, the respondents LK and RK were charged under s 11.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cwth) (the Criminal Code) with conspiring to deal with money worth $1 million or more, being reckless as to the fact that the money was proceeds of crime.

The High Court dismissed the Crown’s appeal and upheld the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal’s interpretation of conspiracy in the Criminal Code.

This case is significant in clarifying the elements of the offence of conspiracy in the Criminal Code as the Court held that a person cannot enter into a conspiracy without knowing the facts that make the agreed conduct unlawful. In the case of RK and LK, it was not sufficient that the alleged conspirator was reckless as to the fact that the money was proceeds of crime. In order to make out the conspiracy offence, the prosecution needed to prove that the alleged conspirator knew that the money was proceeds of crime.

Australian Crime Commission v OK [2010] FCAFC 61 (2 June 2010)

On 13 May 2009, the South Australian Police arrested the respondent to the appeal and charged him with manufacturing and intending to sell a controlled drug. The Australian Crime Commission (ACC) had issued a summons for the respondent under the Australian Crime Commission Act 2002 (ACC Act) on 5 May 2009. After his arrest, the respondent was questioned about the charge against him, which he declined to answer. The examiner directed the respondent to answer the questions, notwithstanding the objection.

Before the Federal Court, the respondent contended that an examiner has no power to require an answer to questions that concern factual matters that are a part of charges before a criminal court. The primary judge held that, notwithstanding the safeguards in the ACC Act, there were nevertheless routes by which information directly relevant to charges before a criminal court might be made available to prosecuting authorities. The ACC appealed this decision to the Full Court.

On 2 June 2010, the Full Court, in upholding the appeal, held that the powers of the chief executive officer and the ACC in relation to dissemination of information are subject to the safeguards of s 25A of the ACC Act. As a result, the Court ruled there is no real risk that compelling the respondent to answer questions directly relating to his charge would result in a prejudice to his fair trial or interfere with the course of justice.

The decision of the Full Court is significant as it considers the decision of the High Court in Hammond v Commonwealth (1982) 152 CLR 188 in the context of the statutory safeguards provided for in s 25A of the ACC Act.

Lane v Morrison [2009] HCA 29

In August 2009, the High Court found in Lane v Morrison [2009] HCA 29 that sections of the Defence Force Discipline Appeals Act 1982 (DFDA Act), which established the Australian Military Court, were constitutionally invalid.

On 8 August 2007, Mr Brian Lane was charged with offences that allegedly occurred in August 2005, while he was a member of the Royal Australian Navy, namely:

  • an act of indecency without consent, contrary to s 61(3) of the DFDA Act, as applying s 60(2) of the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT), and
  • assaulting a superior officer, contrary to s 25 of the DFDA Act.

Colonel Morrison, a Military Judge in the Australian Military Court, was nominated by the Chief Military Judge to try the charges against Mr Lane. In May 2008, Mr Lane brought proceedings in the High Court seeking an order of prohibition against Colonel Morrison from hearing the charges and a declaration that provisions of the legislation creating the Australian Military Court were invalid.

The High Court declared Part VII Division 3 of the DFDA Act to be invalid because the Australian Military Court purported to exercise the judicial power of the Commonwealth (which can only be exercised by a court constituted in accordance with Chapter III of the Constitution, which the Australian Military Court was not). They further ordered that Colonel Morrison be prohibited from further proceeding with the charges.

The former Government established the Australian Military Court in October 2007 following recommendations of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee Report, The effectiveness of Australia’s military justice system, in June 2005. The Australian Military Court replaced the system of courts-martial and Defence Force magistrates, which was reinstated as an interim measure after the High Court’s decision.

In May 2010, the Government announced that it would establish a new Military Court of Australia, under Chapter III of the Constitution. The new court will have jurisdiction to try service offences under the DFDA. The Military Court of Australia Bill 2010 was introduced into Parliament on 24 June 2010.

Ray & Anor and Males & Anor

On 31 March 2009, Justice Benjamin of the Hobart registry of the Family Court of Australia made orders joining the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (Tasmania) to a family law parenting proceeding, without the Secretary’s consent. The orders give the Family Court the option of conferring on the Secretary parental responsibility for the children who are the subject of the parenting proceedings. Benjamin J held:

  • that the Family Law Act 1975 empowers the court to join and, if appropriate, confer parental responsibility on a State government child welfare authority regardless of consent, and
  • in the alternative, that the accrued (non-federal) jurisdiction of the federal family law courts in effect includes the parens patriae powers of the Supreme Court of Tasmania, which would authorise the joinder of the Secretary without his consent.

The Secretary lodged an appeal against the judgment. The Australian Attorney-General intervened in the appeal, which was heard before the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia on 10 February 2010. Judgment was reserved.

MRR v GR [2010] HCA 4

In December 2009, the High Court heard the relocation matter of MRR v GR [2010] HCA 4. The High Court’s decision concerned the interpretation of provisions of Part VII of the Family Law Act 1975 dealing with parenting orders, which were inserted in 2006 by the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006.

The High Court held that a trial judge is not able to make an order for a child to spend equal (or substantial and significant) time with each parent without making a finding, separate from the consideration of what will be in the child’s best interests, that it is reasonably practicable for the child to spend time with each parent. This ruling is not limited to relocation cases. In this case, the High Court found that it was not open to the trial judge to find equal time was reasonably practicable taking into account the accommodation situation and limited opportunities for employment if an equal time order were made.

R v Cheiko & Ors

A trial in the Supreme Court of New South Wales concluded on 15 September 2009. The jury delivered its verdict on 16 October 2009 and found the five defendants guilty of conspiring to do acts in preparation for a terrorist act. The sentencing hearings were conducted between 14 and 18 December 2009 and sentences were handed down on 15 February 2010. The defendants were sentenced to maximum terms of imprisonment ranging from 23 years to 28 years. All five defendants have appealed their conviction and sentence.

R v Khazaal

On 10 September 2008, in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Mr Khazaal was found guilty of making a document connected with assistance in a terrorist act, knowing of that connection. Mr Khazaal was sentenced on 25 September 2009 to 12 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of nine years. Mr Khazaal has appealed his conviction and sentence.

R v Ahmed & Ors

On 4 August 2009, five men in Victoria were charged with the offence of conspiring to do acts in preparation for a terrorist act under the Criminal Code. All five men have been committed to stand trial. One of the men will also stand trial on an offence under the Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act 1978.

Reports by parliamentary committees

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee

Inquiry into Australia’s Judicial System and the Role of Judges

In December 2009, the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee released the report of its inquiry into Australia’s judicial system and the role of judges. The Committee made 16 recommendations. The Government is considering the Committee’s recommendations and a response will be tabled in due course.

Inquiry into Access to Justice

On 8 December 2009, the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee handed down its report on its inquiry into access to justice. The Committee made recommendations on a range of issues including the adequacy of legal aid, the cost of delivering justice, and the ability of people to access legal representation. The Government is considering the recommendations.

Inquiry into the Personal Property Securities Bill 2009

The Committee tabled its report on the Personal Property Securities Bill 2009 on 20 August 2009. The Committee recommended the Bill be passed subject to further consultation with stakeholders on issues raised before the Committee until 30 September 2009. A Liberal Senators’ minority report included an additional five recommendations. The Government’s response to the report was tabled on 21 October 2009.

Inquiry into the Personal Property Securities (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2009

The Committee tabled its report on the Personal Property Securities (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2009 on 19 November 2009. The Committee recommended that the Bill be passed and that the Government continue to provide transparency about policy decisions in relation to personal property securities reform. A Liberal Senators’ minority report included an additional recommendation regarding consultation on proposed regulations. The Government’s response to the report was tabled on 4 February 2010.

Inquiry into the Personal Property Securities (Corporations and Other Amendments) Bill 2010

The Committee tabled its report on the Personal Property Securities (Corporations and Other Amendments) Bill 2010 on 12 May 2010. The Committee recommended that the Bill be passed. A Liberal Senators’ minority report included an additional two recommendations. The Government is considering its response to the report.

Inquiry into the Bankruptcy Legislation Amendment Bill 2009

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee tabled its report on the Bankruptcy Legislation Amendment Bill 2009 on 24 February 2010. The Committee recommended the Bill be passed. A Liberal Senators’ minority report included an additional four recommendations.

Inquiry into older people and the law

On 20 September 2007, the Committee tabled its report, Older People and the Law. The report contains recommendations relating to a range of legal issues facing older Australians, including fraud and financial abuse, powers of attorney, advance health care planning, guardianship and administration, family agreements, barriers to older Australians accessing legal services, age discrimination and retirement villages. The Government’s response was tabled in the House of Representatives on 26 November 2009. The Government has begun to address the recommendations, including developing a dedicated section on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission website to provide older Australians with advice on financial issues, including superannuation investments, reverse mortgages, and a toolkit to help plan for retirement, at <http://www.moneysmart.gov.au>; developing information for older Australians on issues that affect their security, such as financial literacy; and removing the ‘dominant reason’ test from the Age Discrimination Act 2004.

Inquiry into the effectiveness of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984

On 12 December 2008, the Committee tabled its report on the effectiveness of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 in eliminating discrimination and promoting gender equality. The Committee made 43 recommendations. On 4 May 2010, the Government tabled its response to the report. The response includes proposed amendments to the Act to:

  • extend protections from discrimination on the grounds of family responsibilities to women and men in all areas of employment
  • provide greater protection from sexual harassment for students and workers
  • ensure that protections from sex discrimination apply equally to women and men, and
  • establish breastfeeding as a separate ground of discrimination.

On 24 June 2010, the Attorney-General introduced the Sex Discrimination Amendment Bill 2010 to implement those amendments to the Act that were accepted for immediate implementation in the Government’s response to the Committee’s report.

The Government will consider other recommendations from the Senate Committee’s report as part of its commitment in Australia’s Human Rights Framework to consolidate anti-discrimination legislation into one single comprehensive law.

Inquiry into Draft Disability (Access to Premises–Buildings) Standards

On 15 June 2009, the Committee released its report Access All Areas. The Attorney-General had referred the draft Disability (Access to Premises–Buildings) Standards to the Committee in December 2008. The Committee conducted an extensive inquiry involving requests for written submissions and public hearings in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane. It made 15 recommendations, the key of which was that the Premises Standards be introduced without delay. On 15 March 2010 the Government tabled its response to the Committee’s recommendations together with finalised Premises Standards giving effect to the legislative elements of that response. The finalised Premises Standards provide for commencement on 1 May 2011.

As part of the new arrangements, regulation of disability access in public transport buildings has been included within the standards. In implementing this arrangement the Attorney-General also made and tabled in Parliament on 15 March 2010 complementary amendments to the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport.

The Premises Standards were first mooted in 2000. They are part of a wider scheme, led by the Commonwealth, to provide improved, updated and nationally uniform rules for appropriate and dignified access to public buildings and offices for people with disability. State and Territory building laws are proposed to be aligned with the Premises Standards with those laws also to commence operation on 1 May 2011.

The Premises Standards impose obligations on building certifiers, developers and managers to ensure compliance with the Premises Standards, with respect to the matters dealt with in the Premises Standards for which they are responsible or will have control over.

Alongside the Committee recommendations concerned with the terms of the Premises Standards, the Government accepted in principle that it should consider developing standards for fit-out and for places other than buildings, noting that additional consultation with stakeholders, and the States and Territories would be necessary. It agreed to undertake further research into wheelchair sizes, after two years of the operation of the Standards, and to conduct an audit of a sample of new buildings or building work before reviewing the Premises Standards.

Copies or links to the Government’s response to the Access All Areas report, the Premises Standards, the Explanatory Statement to the Premises Standards, the Regulation Impact Statement, and related or other explanatory documents can be found at <http://ag.aglink.ag.gov.au>.

Inquiry into Native Title Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2009

The Native Title Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2009 was introduced into the House of Representatives on 21 October 2010 and was subsequently referred to the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for inquiry and report. The Committee recommended the Bill be passed with an amendment to include provision of staff housing as part of its proposed new ‘future acts’ process. The Government has accepted this recommendation.

Inquiry into Wild Rivers Environmental Management Bill 2010

The Wild Rivers (Environmental Management) Bill 2010 was introduced into the House of Representatives on 8 February 2010 and the Senate on 23 February 2010. It was referred to the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for inquiry and report. The Bill seeks to protect the interests of Aboriginal traditional owners in the management, development and use of native title land situated in wild rivers areas. The Committee heard evidence from witnesses at public hearings in Canberra on 30 March 2010 and Cairns on 13 April 2010. The Committee is considering the provisions of the Bill and is due to report by 30 June 2010.

Joint Standing Committee on Treaties

In September 2009, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties tabled its report on the review into treaties tabled on 13 May, 25 June and 20 August 2009. This report dealt with the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (or The Hague Service Convention). The Hague Service Convention streamlines and harmonises the service of court process in civil and commercial matters and provides a framework for transmission of judicial and extrajudicial documents. The Committee recommended that binding treaty action be taken. It concluded that there is an increasing need for certainty in arrangements for conducting transnational litigation and that The Hague Service Convention has the potential to replace a slow, complex process with transparent and timely procedures. Australia acceded to The Hague Service Convention on 15 March 2010.

In March 2010, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties released Report 110: Review into treaties tabled on 18, 25 (2) and 26 November 2009 and 2 (2) February 2010. The report dealt with the treaty between Australia and Lebanon, namely the Agreement between Australia and the Republic of Lebanon regarding Cooperation on Protecting the Welfare of Children. The Committee recommended binding treaty action be taken. It concluded that the statistics presented to it suggested that Lebanon is a significant country, in terms of the number of current child abduction cases receiving assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and that the agreement would be an improvement upon the arrangements currently in place to resolve these cases. The agreement entered into force on 1 May 2010.

Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission

Inquiry into legislative arrangements to outlaw serious and organised crime groups

On 17 August 2009, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission tabled its report Inquiry into the legislative arrangement to outlaw serious and organised crime groups. The report contained seven recommendations concerning threat assessment and intelligence capability, the effectiveness and utility of United Kingdom civil-based orders (Financial Reporting Orders and Serious and Organised Crime Prevention Orders) in the Australian context, and arrangements for confiscating criminal assets. The Government tabled its response to the report on 13 May 2010, and accepted all seven recommendations.

Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories

Inquiry into the changing economic environment of the Indian Ocean Territories

The then Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Bob Debus MP, referred an inquiry into the economic environment in the Indian Ocean Territories to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories on 11 February 2009. The Committee presented its report Inquiry into the Changing Economic Environment in the Indian Ocean Territories on 1 April 2010. The Committee made 26 recommendations about the economic environment, emerging industries, information and communication technology and transportation in the Indian Ocean Territories. The Government is considering these recommendations and will provide a response to the Committee in due course.

Inquiry into the Territories Law Reform Bill

On 17 March 2010, the Territories Law Reform Bill was introduced into Parliament. On 18 March 2010, the Senate referred the Bill to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories for inquiry. The Committee presented its report on 11 May 2010. The Committee made five recommendations, including that the Senate pass the Bill. The Minister responded to the recommendations during the debate on the Bill in the House of Representatives on 21 June 2010. The Government accepted the Committee’s recommendations on continuing consultation with Norfolk Island to develop regulations to support the Bill. The Government also accepted recommendations that the Commonwealth minimise delays in the scrutiny of Norfolk Island legislation as part of the assent process, and that a review be undertaken of items in Schedules 2 and 3 of the Norfolk Island Act 1979.

The Government did not accept the final recommendation—removal of amendments relating to elections from the Bill and reintroduction of those provisions in 2011 following consultation with the Norfolk Island Government and community. However, the Minister provided an undertaking to the Committee to delay introduction of electoral regulations until after June 2011 and to provide a copy of the draft regulations to the Committee for comment.

Other reports

2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission

The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission released two interim reports in 2009. The first included recommendations directed towards the Commonwealth regarding delivery of emergency warnings and provision of disaster assistance to the jurisdictions. The Commonwealth filed a formal response with the Royal Commission on 31 August 2009, supporting the recommendations. The second report made recommendations about building issues, including a national construction standard for personal bushfire bunkers, and a review of the Australian Standard for construction in bushfire-prone areas. The Commonwealth supported the recommendations.

Report of the review of Commonwealth legal services procurement

The Attorney-General commissioned the report of the review of Commonwealth legal services procurement, by Mr Anthony Blunn AO and Ms Sibylle Krieger, in March 2009 and publicly released it on 8 January 2010. The report contains 23 recommendations to achieve greater efficiency and value for taxpayers’ money. The Government is currently considering the report.

Australian Human Rights Commission’s Social Justice Report 2009

The Social Justice Report was tabled out of session in the Senate on 20 January 2010 and in the House of Representatives on 2 February 2010. The report focuses on Indigenous justice and justice reinvestment, protecting and promoting Indigenous languages, and Aboriginal Homelands. The Government is consulting with the Human Rights Commission on issues raised in the report and meets regularly with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

Australian Human Rights Commission’s Native Title Report 2009

The Native Title Report was tabled out of session in the Senate on 20 January 2010 and in the House of Representatives on 2 February 2010. It covers the period 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009. The report focuses on the current state of land rights and native title policy and a review of Indigenous land tenure reform. The Government has discussed issues raised in the report with the Human Rights Commission and meets regularly with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and his staff.

Report of the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services

On 7 December 2009, the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services, Mr Brian Gleeson, reported on his first six months, including the key strengths of the Remote Service Delivery Strategy in 29 Indigenous communities. The Department provided information on the expenditure under the Indigenous Justice Program in the 29 Indigenous communities for preparation of the Coordinator General’s report.

The Department also provided input into the progress report developed by the Council of Australian Government’s Working Group on Indigenous Reform. This report provides advice on the progress of the Coordinator General’s recommendations and was endorsed by the Working Group on Indigenous Reform on 9 April 2010.

Department of Finance and Deregulation Gateway Review of National Crisis Coordination Capability Program

The National Crisis Coordination Capability Program Crisis Coordination Centre project is subject to the Department of Finance and Deregulation’s Gateway Review Process. The review for Gates 1 and 2 were conducted from 7 to 11 September 2009 to analyse the project’s business case and procurement strategy. The review for Gate 3 was conducted from 14 to 18 December 2009 to consider the investment decision.

The reviews conducted to date found the overall rating for the project to be ‘amber’, meaning that the issues raised under the review pose an immediate and significant risk to the effective and timely delivery of project outcomes. However, these were assessed to be manageable, if addressed promptly. Progress against recommendations made by the independent review panel is reported to the Attorney-General’s Department’s National Crisis Coordination Capability Program Board.

Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s privacy audits of aspects of the national Document Verification Service

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner conducted a privacy audit of aspects of the national Document Verification Service. The audit report was released in May 2010. The Department accepted and implemented all recommendations.

Independent review of the Critical Infrastructure Program for Modelling and Analysis

An independent review of the Critical Infrastructure Program for Modelling and Analysis was undertaken in 2010. The final report was provided to the Department in late June 2010, and the Department will respond to the report in 2010–11.


Patrick Dodgson, Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing 

Patrick Dodgson, Office of Legislative
Drafting and Publishing

Our people

Helping Pacific countries improve legislation

if the rule of law is important, this project is important

The Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing is receiving global recognition for its work with international counterparts to promote best practice in legislative drafting, deliver training and provide hands-on help with projects beyond the capacity of local agencies.

‘Helping our neighbours draft and implement better legislation is in their interest, Australia’s interest and the international interest,’ explained Patrick Dodgson, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing’s Drafting Unit 3.

Throughout the year, Patrick and his team provided on-the-job training in legislative drafting to Pacific drafters during three-month professional placements, and drafted law for Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.

The team also collaborates with primary funding partner, AusAID, and the legislative drafting offices, departmental officials and government ministers of the countries they help.

For Patrick, the importance of their work is of clear benefit to the wider community.

‘If the rule of law is important, this project is important. It helps to achieve better, more effective and clearer legislation in neighbouring countries.

‘I have drafted proceeds of crime and mutual assistance in criminal matters laws for a number of Pacific countries. These laws are now available for Australia to follow up on criminal matters that have international characteristics.

‘For me, the highlights of these projects are being able to make a difference, experiencing the difficulties of the business of government of a developing country, and getting to know how our neighbours operate,’ Patrick added.

The Department’s activities have not only assisted Pacific countries but also Indonesia, Sri Lanka Cambodia and East Timor.

Patrick aptly sums up his work: ‘Our work sits clearly within the Department’s vision of helping to achieve a just and secure society’.


Chapter 11 Financial management

Analysis of financial performance

The departmental operating result for 2009–10 was a deficit of $0.244 million compared to a deficit of $1.749 million for 2008–09. The deficit is less than 1 per cent of total revenues.

Total departmental income increased by $8.609 million or 3.5 per cent to $264.186 million, and total departmental expenses increased by $7.104 million or 2.8 per cent to $264.430 million. The increases primarily reflect additional funding from Budget measures.

The Department’s administered expenses decreased by $249.987 million or 29.5 per cent in 2009–10 compared to 2008–09 primarily due to implementation of the new framework for Federal Financial Relations, under which specific purpose payments are made through Treasury instead of the Department.

The Department’s net assets decreased by $3.526 million or 2.1 per cent to $164.537 million primarily due to a reduction in receivables, payables and employee provisions.

The Department’s administered assets increased by $389.423 million or 48.0 per cent following an extended stocktake and a revaluation of assets located in the Territories. Administered liabilities decreased by $685.301 million to $42.281 million due to the transfer of responsibilities for payments under the Judges’ Pensions Act 1968 to the Department of Finance and Deregulation on 1 January 2010.

Figure 7: Departmental revenues and expenses, 2008–09 and 2009–10

Figure 7: Departmental revenues and expenses, 2008-09 and 2009-10 

Figure 8: Administered expenses, 2008–09 and 2009–10

Figure 8: Administered expenses, 2008-09 and 2009-10 

Contracts and Australian National Audit Office access clauses

During 2009–10, the Department had no contracts to report over the value of $100,000 that did not provide for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor’s premises.

Exempt contracts

There were no contracts over the value of $10,000 exempted from being published in AusTender by the Secretary of the Department on the basis that to do so would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Consultancy services

A consultant is defined as an entity—whether an individual, a partnership or a corporation—engaged to provide professional, independent and expert advice or services. The key characteristics of a consultancy are that the services involve development of an intellectual output that aids the Department’s decision making, and that the output reflects the independent views of the service provider.

During 2009–10, the Department entered into 31 new consultancy contracts involving total actual expenditure of $1.907 million. In addition, 11 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the year involving total actual expenditure of $0.872 million.

The main purposes for engaging consultants were:

  • reviews of processes and mechanisms
  • independent assessments, analysis, advice, and application of high level expertise, and
  • research into, and studies and modelling of, activities.

Information on expenditure on contracts for consultancies is available in Appendix 5.

Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website <http://www.tenders.gov.au>.

Advertising and market research

During 2009–10 the Department conducted the following advertising campaigns: Chemicals of Security Concern Campaign and National Security Campaign. Further information on those advertising campaigns is available at <http://ag.aglink.ag.gov.au> and in the reports on Australian Government advertising that are prepared by the Department of Finance and Deregulation. Those reports are available at <http://www.finance.gov.au/advertising/index.html>.

The Department is required to disclose expenditure made to specific types of organisations under s 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The categories of organisations are advertising agencies, market research organisations, polling organisations, direct mail organisations and media advertising organisations.

Details of payments are provided at Appendix 6.

Legal services expenditure

Paragraph 11.1(a) of the Legal Services Directions 2005, issued by the Attorney-General under the Judiciary Act 1903, requires Chief Executives of departments and agencies to ensure that legal services expenditure is appropriately recorded and monitored. Chief Executives must also ensure that their agencies make publicly available records of their legal services expenditure for the previous financial year by 30 October in the following financial year. External legal services expenditure for 2009–10 was $11.913 million.

A detailed breakdown of both internal and external legal expenditure is at Appendix 7.

Grants

The Department manages its grants program in accordance with the Government’s legislative framework, the Commonwealth Grant Guidelines and the Department’s grants management guidelines.

In 2009–10, the Department published information for 19 grants programs:

  • Closing the Gap—Northern Territory Law and Order
  • Community Legal Services Program
  • Family Relationships Services Program
  • Financial assistance towards legal costs and related expenses
  • Grants to Australian organisations
  • Indigenous Justice Program
  • National Emergency Volunteers Support Fund
  • National Community Crime Prevention Program
  • Payments for provision of legal aid—legal aid commissions
  • Payments for services under the Family Law Act 1975 and the Child Support Scheme
  • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002—s 298 payment
  • Provision of family violence prevention legal services for Indigenous Australians
  • Provision of law and justice advocacy services for Indigenous Australians
  • Provision of legal aid for Indigenous Australians
  • Provision of preventative, diversion, rehabilitation and restorative justice services for Indigenous Australians
  • Safer Suburbs Plan
  • Secure Schools Program
  • Services to Indian Ocean Territories, and
  • Services to Jervis Bay Territories.

Information on grants awarded by the Attorney-General’s Department since 1 January 2009 is available at <http://ag.aglink.ag.gov.au>.

Purchasing

The Department’s approach to procurement of all property and services is consistent with the requirements of the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines. The Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines are applied to procurement activities through the Chief Executive’s Instructions and the Financial Guidance and Procedure Manual.

A financial management learning and development program was established during 2007, which includes modules on procurement and contract management as well as the Chief Executive’s Instructions, authorisations and delegations.

A procurement advice unit within the Department provides advice to staff involved in procurement activities. In addition, the unit undertakes quality assurance testing of procurement activities undertaken across the Department.

The procurement advice unit periodically reviews all procurement-related documentation and training material to ensure consistency with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines and other policies that interact with procurement. As part of the most recent review, the Department’s Chief Executive Instructions and procurement guidance, forms and tools were updated to help staff undertake procurements.

Assets management

The composition of the Department’s fixed asset base covers a wide range of asset types, including office fit-outs, purchased and internally-developed software, computer equipment, infrastructure located in the Territories and centrally held library materials.

The Department has significant strategic assets it administers in the Territories. These assets are associated with providing essential services to Territories including health, education, water, sewerage, power, transport, airports, ports, communication, law and order and emergency services. In 2009–10, the Department implemented a new asset management system that allows it to manage these assets on a whole-of-life basis including scheduling maintenance and establishing replacement programs.

The Department undertakes an annual stocktake of assets to maintain the accuracy of asset records.

The Department also has asset management guidance and procedures as part of the financial guidance and procedure manual, which has been promulgated to divisions and is available electronically on the Department’s intranet.


Michele Hendrie, Priorities and Coordination Division 

Michele Hendrie, Priorities and
Coordination Division

Our people

Collaborating on nationally broadcast emergency warnings

delivering effective warnings has a direct bearing on people’s safety

Through the National Broadcast of Emergency Warnings Project, the Department is encouraging a national approach to the processes and expectations that underpin broadcast of emergency warnings to the public through the media.

This is important work because although States and Territories have primary responsibility for warnings, the broadcast sector is increasingly national in nature.

Michele Hendrie, a Director in the Public Affairs Branch, managed the project’s communication aspects and explained why there was a need for a national approach.

‘National media networks increasingly use program streaming across regions and States, and there are increasing numbers of national subscription and digital services,’ she said.

‘By tackling this at a national level the project helps deliver more effective emergency warnings through a wider range of broadcast outlets, so that all members of the community are included.’

The initiative involves collaboration with emergency management representatives from all States and Territories, all national media peak bodies, as well as input from Australian Government agencies with emergency or broadcasting related responsibilities.

‘The project has been effective because it has focused on common interests and objectives between media and emergency management agencies, while respecting their different priorities,’ Michele explained.

Project outcomes included development of the National Best Practice Guidelines for the Request and Broadcast of Emergency Warnings; Emergency Warnings—Choosing Your Words, a reference document to guide effective wording of warnings; and Working Together in Emergencies, a training module for media and government agency use to improve understanding of the role each plays in an emergency, thereby encouraging cooperation in warning the public.

‘The project has resulted in an effective ongoing forum and collaboration mechanisms between the national broadcast media and government, so ongoing work can be done in this critical area.

‘Getting it right is critical because delivering effective warnings has a direct bearing on people’s safety in an emergency,’ Michele added.


Chapter 12 Human resource management

Overview

In 2009–10, the People and Corporate Support Branch introduced several new people management strategies, including:

  • promoting efficiencies in recruitment by advertising multiple positions and expanding the use of merit pools
  • aligning business and workforce planning
  • developing a Leadership Development Program enabling the Department to meet its future development requirements
  • negotiating and developing a new departmental Enterprise Agreement 2010 (to commence 8 July 2010), replacing the 2007 Collective Agreement
  • reducing the Department’s workers’ compensation premiums (down to 0.24 per cent of payroll costs against an APS average of 1.20 per cent) through improved injury prevention and management strategies, and
  • adding new programs to the departmental training calendar mapped against the Integrated Leadership System capabilities.

Staff profile

Figure 9: Departmental staff numbers from 2006 to 2010, at 30 June 2010

Figure 9: Departmental staff and numbers from 2006 to 2010, as at 30 June 2010 

 

Table 22: Staffing trends, 2005–06 to 2009–10

  2005–06 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10
Total staff 1,146 1,329 1,544 1,547 1,554
Ongoing 936 1,135 1,353 1,387 1,395
Non-ongoing 164 160 148 123 118
Irregular/intermittent/casual 46 34 43 37 41
Average age 37 36 38 38 38
Average length of service (years) 4.2 3.7 3.7 4.1 4.2
Proportion female (%) 60.0 58.4 64.0 63.5 62.3
Proportion male (%) 40.0 41.6 36.0 36.5 37.7
Proportion part-time (%) 5.0 6.3 7.7 7.6 8.3
SES 69 80 78 94 78
EL 1 and 2 equivalent 449 514 608 625 651
APS 1–6 equivalent 582 701 858 826 784
Total excluding casuals 1,100 1,295 1,501 1,510 1,513

Workforce planning

During 2009–10, the Department continued to undertake a number of workforce planning activities including:

  • developing improved workforce data and benchmarking tools and methods
  • aligning the business planning process with divisional reviews of workforce planning requirements
  • continuing to enhance and refine the Department’s People Development Strategy, and
  • using capability data from individual work plans to inform development of the training calendar.

Recruitment

During 2009–10, the Department introduced strategic recruitment measures and worked closely with line areas to provide project management advice and support for all recruitment activities to improve the quality of candidates and reduce the time taken to fill vacancies.

The Recruitment Team is now managing merit pools generated from all recruitment activities so line areas are able to draw on a current pool of candidates who have been assessed as suitable. These actions have improved efficiency in both time and costs associated with recruitment activity.

Staffing retention and turnover

During 2009–10, the Department experienced a 1.5 per cent decline in employee-initiated turnover with a rate of 13.5 per cent. This is based on the number of employee-initiated separations in 2009–10 (including resignation from the APS, movement to other APS agencies, retirement and voluntary early cessation of non-ongoing contracts) divided by the number of staff at 30 June 2010.

However, the Department’s ongoing separation rate for 2009–10 was 8.1 per cent. This includes all ongoing separations, including terminations, redundancies, resignations and retirements, but does not include ongoing movements to other APS agencies. Approximately 40 per cent of the Department’s ongoing separations in 2009–10 resulted from staff moving to other APS agencies. The Department supports the concept of the APS as a career service.

Workplace agreements

Collective agreements

The Attorney-General’s Department Agreement 2007 came into operation on 24 September 2007 and nominally expires on 24 July 2010. As at 30 June 2010, 1,533 employees were covered by this agreement.

Key features of this agreement include:

  • a 4.5 per cent per annum base salary increase in each of the three years of the agreement
  • an increase in the rate of employer superannuation contribution for employees who exercise ‘superannuation choice’ to match the rate paid for membership of the Public Sector Superannuation Scheme Accumulation Plan
  • an increase from 12 weeks to 14 weeks paid maternity leave
  • introduction of 14 weeks paid adoption leave
  • an increase in supporting partner leave (in the event of birth or adoption) from five days to 10 days
  • enhancement of the purchased leave scheme, which currently allows up to four weeks, to enable purchase of up to eight weeks leave per year
  • movement from the two-tiered system (which had some Executive Level employees working under the flextime system and others working less formal flexible working hours arrangements) to a common flexible working hours arrangement for Executive Level employees
  • the option to elect to take annual leave at half pay, and
  • reversion to a credit-based personal leave arrangement for ongoing employees from the previous sick and carer’s leave arrangements, which were not credit based.

The 2007 collective agreement is to be replaced with a new enterprise agreement commencing on 8 July 2010. Under the new Australian Government Employment Bargaining Framework, this agreement will expire on 30 June 2011. Preparation for the Indian Ocean Territories enterprise agreement has commenced and bargaining will commence late July/early August 2010.

Australian Workplace Agreements

All of the Department’s Senior Executive Service (SES) employees are covered by an Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA) or a common law contract. In line with the Government’s Employment Bargaining Framework, no new AWAs have been issued since February 2008. New SES employees have been employed under a common law contract.

Non-SES AWAs primarily cover specific casual employees and are used to provide penalty rates for unusual hours of work and additional employment conditions, such as overseas posting allowances, enhanced remuneration rates for specific work or skills, or variation to normal leave conditions.

As at 30 June 2010, 52 SES employees and 25 non-SES employees were covered by AWAs.

Section 24(1) Determinations

The Department has made one s 24(1) Determination under the Public Service Act 1999. This Determination covers the conditions for casual employees working on the National Security Hotline who commenced work after 10 April 2008. The Determination mirrors the conditions that were formerly contained in AWAs.

The conditions for casual National Security Hotline employees will be incorporated into the new Attorney-General’s Department Enterprise Agreement 2010, commencing 8 July 2010. The s 24(1) Determination will be revoked at that time.

Common law contracts

As at 30 June 2010, the Department had entered into 21 common law contracts with SES employees. These contracts have the same content as the former SES AWAs except they contain a different dispute settlement procedure. This is because the (former) Australian Industrial Relations Commission did not have jurisdiction to deal with disputes arising under common law contracts.

As at 30 June 2010, the Department has entered into common law contracts with 26 non-SES employees. These contracts operate in conjunction with the Attorney-General’s Department Collective Agreement 2007 and are used to provide additional employment conditions, such as overseas posting allowances, enhanced remuneration rates for specific work or skills, or variation to normal leave conditions.

Non-salary benefits provided to employees

The Department, through its industrial agreements with employees, permits employees to flexibly package their remuneration to combine both monetary and non-monetary benefits. The key non-salary benefits an employee can choose to salary sacrifice for include:

  • a motor vehicle acquired through novated lease arrangements
  • laptop or notebook computers used primarily for business purposes
  • additional superannuation, and
  • employer-based child care.

Salary rates

Table 23: Salary ranges under the Attorney-General’s Department Agreement 2007, Australian Workplace Agreements, common law contracts and s 24(1) Determinations, at 30 June 2010

Classification Salary range under
the CA
Salary range under
AWAs and common
law contracts
s 24(1)
Determination (NSH
casual operators)
SES Band 3 n/a $204,811–$270,657 n/a
SES Band 2 n/a $166,737–$183,243 n/a
SES Band 1 n/a $132,652–$145,385 n/a
Executive Level 2 $97,516–$117,175 $121,917–$145,385 n/a
Principal Legal Officer $97,516–$117,175 $121,917–$145,385 n/a
Executive Level 1 $84,551–$102,877 $102,877–$110,559 n/a
Senior Legal Officer $84,551–$102,877 $102,877–$110,559 n/a
APS Level 6 $66,272–$77,840 $77,840–$83,840 n/a
APS Level 5 $61,361–$65,065 n/a n/a
APS Level 4 $55,012–$59,730 $55,012–$59,730 $55,012–$59,730
Legal Officer $49,360–$77,840 $55,012–$59,730 n/a
APS Level 3 $49,360–$53,272 n/a n/a
Graduate APS $48,995–$50,217 n/a n/a
APS Level 1–2 $40,231–$50,488 $39,059–$49,017 n/a
Cadet APS (practical training) $38,293–$42,319 n/a n/a
Cadet APS (full-time study) $20,891 n/a n/a

Note: AWAs = Australian Workplace Agreements; CA = Collective Agreement; n/a = not applicable; NSH = National Security Hotline

Performance pay

Performance pay is not available to non-SES employees under the Attorney-General’s Department Agreement 2007. Access to performance pay is generally available to SES employees covered by an AWA or common law contract.

For SES employees with access to performance pay, the Secretary determines whether an employee is entitled to a performance bonus (which may be up to 15 per cent of their salary). Performance pay, if awarded, is available after the final performance appraisal for the year under the Program for Performance Improvement. All decisions concerning performance pay are based on achievement against agreed performance criteria.

Details of performance pay awarded during 2009–10 is shown in Table 24.

Table 24: Performance payments for performance in 2009–10

  Classification level
Non-SES and SES Band 1 SES
Bands 2 and 3
Number of employees eligible 67 17
Number of employees receiving payment 65 15
Aggregated amount of payments $682,059 $257,172
Average bonus payment $10,493 $17,144
Range of payments $1,905–$25,191 $7,110–$27,486

Training and development

During 2009–10, the Department offered a range of options to help employees develop and improve their knowledge and skills, ensuring they have the capabilities needed now and for the future. The Department offers a large number of internal training courses on the training schedule, which are conducted internally in the Department’s training facilities. The course offerings were refined and expanded in 2010.

In 2010, the training schedule aligned with the Australian Public Service Commission’s Integrated Leadership System and covered the system’s five capabilities, information technology applications training and financial training. This integrated the training schedule and employee learning and development needs with the Department’s Program for Performance Improvement. Currently, the program offers more than 40 capability courses such as Harnessing Change, Innovative Thinking, Foundations of Leadership and Clear Departmental Writing Skills. Most courses are centrally procured from the Australian Public Service Commission Capability Development Panel and relevant courses are offered to all APS employees within the Attorney-General’s portfolio.

The results of the Department’s Staff Survey and Leadership Development Questionnaire, as well as the APS Blueprint Reform, shaped development of the Department’s Leadership Development Program in 2009–10. A key focus has been on ensuring strategies meet the Department’s future capability needs.

The Department has employed a range of strategies, including regular SES forums, to give SES staff an opportunity to network while undertaking strategic planning using a whole-of Department approach. An Executive Level 2 development program has also been implemented, providing Executive Level 2 and Principal Legal Officer employees access to 360-degree feedback, development centres and training and development opportunities. A Department-wide mentoring and coaching program, where individuals are able to access or provide mentoring to others, has received growing support within the organisation.

The Department also provides financial assistance and leave to staff for ongoing professional development that may lead to a formal qualification.

Staff recognition

The reward and recognition program is an important component of the Department’s approach to recognising and celebrating employees’ outstanding efforts and contributions and for promoting departmental values and behaviours. The Department has a formal non-salary reward and recognition program.

The annual Secretary’s Awards recognise individuals and teams that have demonstrated excellence in achieving outcomes beyond general expectations. Deputy Secretaries and Managers present other awards for excellence. Recipients may have:

  • demonstrated a high level of dedication and loyalty, over and above that which is required to achieve the business goals of the Department
  • made an outstanding contribution that had a positive and important impact on corporate objectives or reputation
  • worked collaboratively across divisional boundaries, and/or
  • demonstrated innovation and creativity in developing intellectual property.

Other awards presented include Australia Day Achievement Awards and the Academic Achievement Awards. A full list of 2009–10 award recipients is in Appendix 9.

Work–life balance

The Attorney-General’s Department Agreement 2007 and, where applicable, employees’ Australian Workplace Agreements and common law contracts, provide for flexible working arrangements to help employees balance their work and other responsibilities.

The Department’s employment conditions policies detail the following flexible working arrangements that staff can access:

  • part-time work (including guaranteed access to part-time work for three years following the date of birth or adoption of a child)
  • job sharing
  • home-based work
  • flextime and other flexible working hour arrangements, and
  • flexible leave arrangements, including 14 weeks paid maternity and adoption leave, two weeks paid parental leave (for non-primary carers of a newborn or adopted child), and the option of purchasing additional leave or taking leave at half pay.

Additional policies and initiatives that support flexible working arrangements include:

  • a health and wellbeing program
  • carer’s room guidelines
  • guidelines for exchange of legal staff between the Department and the Australian Government Solicitor
  • study assistance, and
  • return to work from injury or illness.

Staff survey

In November 2009, the Department conducted a staff survey primarily to measure staff satisfaction with the culture and leadership of the organisation. The survey attracted a response rate of 85 per cent.

The survey provided specific feedback about the Department’s culture, including the quality of its people management and leadership. It has also provided an analysis of how the culture contributes to staff engagement, satisfaction and performance.

Survey results were communicated to staff through all-staff emails, intranet updates and divisional presentations. In accord with the Department’s response, action plans were devised and targeted at the divisional level to ensure the changes had maximum acceptance and impact.

The key areas the Department will continue to address in 2010–11 include leadership, management and communication, as well as continuing to improve the culture of the organisation through further employee engagement.

Workplace diversity

The Department continued expanding upon strategies from the Workplace Diversity Program following its launch in early 2008–09.

In partnership with the Reconciliation Committee, the Department is working towards increasing Indigenous employment targets, one of the six targets identified in COAG’s Closing the Gap reform agenda. The Department is developing an Indigenous Employment Strategy to further strengthen it as an employer of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The role of Harassment Contact Officers was promoted through a visual display supporting the Department’s commitment to a fair and equitable workplace.

The Department celebrated Harmony Day and National Families Week encouraging staff to become more aware of diversity in the workplace.

The Department is developing a Disability Action Plan aimed at improving the recruitment and retention of people with disability in the workplace, a key feature of the Australian Government’s National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy.

Commonwealth Disability Strategy

Throughout 2009–10, the Department continued to meet its responsibilities under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy by making reasonable adjustments to accommodate staff who have identified themselves as having a disability.

The Department also provided input to the Australian Public Service Commission to contribute to an informed response to the National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy.

Further information on the Department’s performance under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy is at Appendix 11.

Occupational health and safety

As a result of improved injury prevention and management strategies implemented since 2004–05, the Department’s workers’ compensation premium for 2010–11 is 0.24 per cent of payroll costs, a reduction from 0.34 per cent of payroll costs for 2009–10. This performance compares favourably with the Department’s starting point of 1.79 per cent of payroll costs in 2004–05 and the average premium rate for all Australian Government agencies in 2010–11 of 1.20 per cent of payroll costs.

Table 25: Seven-year premium rate comparison, 2004–05 to 2010–11

Premium rates 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11
Attorney-General’s Department 1.79 1.31 1.45 0.75 0.45 0.34 0.24
All agencies 1.67 1.77 1.77 1.77 1.36 1.25 1.20

The Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 requires employers to develop, in consultation with employees, written health and safety management arrangements. These arrangements provide a framework for managing health and safety within the workplace.

During 2009–10, the Department completed a new Employee Relations Advices (ERA) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991. This ERA concerned prevention and management of Occupational Overuse Syndrome and was developed against the background of increasing Occupational Overuse Syndrome injury in the Department.

The Department continued regular workplace safety inspections. First assistant secretaries were supplied reports recommending improvements to health and safety practices and the Department witnessed continued improvements, as staff displayed ongoing commitment to eliminating occupational health and safety hazards.

The number of workers’ compensation claims continued to decline during 2009–10, a continuing trend for the last five years. Comcare accepted two claims in 2009–10. The decline in the number of workers’ compensation claims in the past four years is primarily attributable to prevention programs, such as ergonomic workstation assessments, and early intervention strategies for injuries within the workplace. Employees with non-compensable illnesses and injuries also benefitted from early intervention practices.

The Department made improvements to injury prevention, incident reporting, risk management and safety training procedures. During 2009–10:

  • 375 employees’ workstations were formally assessed from an occupational health and safety perspective
  • 358 employees received the vaccination for H1N1 (swine flu) virus in October 2009, and
  • 644 employees received vaccinations for the seasonal influenza in April 2010.

The Attorney-General’s Department appointed 16 health and safety representatives in 2009–10. The large number of appointees was the result of a new Designated Work Group structure flowing from significant changes in the Department’s building occupancy that occurred during 2008–09.

Information on the Department’s occupational health and safety performance, as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991, is at Appendix 10.


Ariane Malpas, People, Information and Technology Division 

Ariane Malpas, People, Information
and Technology Division

Our people

Investing in our leaders

good leadership is critical to a positive workplace

Managers think about today, leaders think about tomorrow. It’s one of the more apt quotes on leadership for the Leadership Development Program, which focuses on strategies to help us meet our future capability requirements.

Ariane Malpas, Assistant Director in the People and Corporate Support Branch, was involved in designing and implementing the program, which she says aims to create a work environment that allows employees to contribute to the best of their ability.

‘Good leadership is critical to a positive workplace climate,’ she commented.

The program involves a range of strategies, including regular Senior Executive Service (SES) forums, which provide senior executives with opportunities to network while undertaking strategic planning.

‘An Executive Level 2 development program has also been implemented, providing executive level employees access to 360-degree feedback, development centres and learning opportunities.’

As well, a Department-wide mentoring and coaching program allows individuals to access or provide mentoring to others within the organisation. The program has been well received and participation is growing.

Ariane says the input of SES and executive level employees was crucial in the program’s design and implementation. ‘I was very impressed with the support I received throughout the process,’ she said.

The program, which began in December 2009 and will be ongoing, was shaped by the results of the Department’s staff survey and leadership development questionnaire, and the APS Blueprint for Reform. It aims to create and maintain a work environment that enables the Department’s people—its most important asset—to contribute to the best of their ability.

For Ariane, one of the highlights of the project was seeing implementation of the Executive Level 2 Development Program. ‘I really enjoy being able to promote a program to the Secretary’s Leadership Group and SES and see them get excited about it,’ she explained.


Chapter 13 Social equity

Social justice

In pursuing its mission of achieving a just and secure society, the Department is working on an extensive social justice agenda. This agenda is founded on the principles of access and equity and the rights of all citizens to live in a just and secure society. It accords with the Charter of public service in a culturally diverse society.

A key responsibility of the Department is developing and maintaining a federal system of justice that serves individuals, families, business and the community. The Department is undertaking numerous initiatives to progress particular social justice objectives, which are documented in the performance reports section of this report. Many of the programs and activities the Department undertakes support the objective of promoting social justice.

Access to justice

The Access to Justice Taskforce’s report, A Strategic Framework for Access to Justice, identified evidence that socially excluded or disadvantaged groups are more vulnerable to legal issues than others. Improving access to justice is a key means of promoting social inclusion. The Government adopted the taskforce’s central recommendation, which is intended to guide policy making to better direct activities within the broader justice system to overcome existing barriers to justice. A strategic response emphasises better and more accessible sources of information earlier in any dispute to help people resolve problems before they escalate and lead to entrenched disadvantage.

Key access to justice initiatives that the Department progressed in 2009–10 included:

  • provision of an additional $154 million for legal assistance
  • launch of the Access to Justice website at <http://www.accesstojustice.gov.au/>
  • introduction of the Civil Dispute Resolution Bill in June 2010, which encourages people to resolve disputes before commencing litigation, and
  • release of the National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council’s report to the Attorney-General on how to encourage greater use of alternative dispute resolution to overcome court and tribunal barriers to justice (The Resolve to Resolve: Embracing ADR to improve access to justice in the federal jurisdiction, September 2009).

Legal assistance programs

The Department administers five legal assistance programs to provide disadvantaged Australians with access to the full range of legal services: information, advice, advocacy and minor assistance, family dispute resolution, duty lawyer services in the courts and legal representation, as well as community legal education. These legal assistance programs include:

  • The Legal Aid Program, which funds legal aid commissions in each State and Territory to provide comprehensive legal aid services to help resolve problems and disputes in relation to matters arising under Commonwealth laws.
  • The Legal Aid for Indigenous Australians Program, which funds eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services across Australia to provide legal aid services for Indigenous Australians (see also Indigenous Specific Programs and Services).
  • The Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS) program, which provides funding for culturally sensitive family violence prevention legal services for Indigenous Australians in rural and remote Australia who are victims/survivors of family violence and/or sexual assault. The program also funds early intervention projects to prevent family violence and sexual assault (see also Indigenous Specific Programs and Services).
  • The Commonwealth Community Legal Services Program, which funds 128 community-based, independent and non-profit organisations (community legal centres) to provide assistance to people on low incomes and those with special needs or whose interests should be protected as a matter of public interest. Community legal centres provide assistance on legal and related matters, such as family law, domestic violence, consumer credit and tenancy. The program provides funding for generalist as well as specialist community legal services. Specialist services include those that provide assistance for particular target groups, such as women (including Indigenous and rural women), and youth and children, and services in particular areas of law such as environmental law and welfare rights.
  • Financial Assistance Schemes, through which the Australian Government funds direct financial assistance to individuals and organisations for legal costs and related expenses where legal aid is not available from legal aid commissions. Funds are available for legal matters that give rise to a special Commonwealth interest. Grants of financial assistance are provided in a broad range of matters across all States and Territories and in relation to overseas legal costs in special circumstances, including to Australians facing serious charges overseas and to Australian parents seeking the return of abducted children to Australia.

National Pro Bono Resource Centre

The Department administers funding for the National Pro Bono Resource Centre. The Centre is an independent, non-profit organisation that promotes pro bono legal services to the legal profession, community organisations and the general public. It provides support to lawyers and law firms to help them provide high quality pro bono legal services, and works with the profession and the community sector to match services with the clients and groups most in need of assistance. This includes working closely with community legal centres to broker and encourage pro bono partnerships with private law firms.

Family law

Services under the Family Relationship Services Program, including Family Relationship Centres, are required to provide accessible services to all families who need them. Family Relationship Centres with significant Indigenous communities in their area receive additional funding to employ Indigenous advisers.

The Family Relationship Advice Line provides an alternative access to services. The Advice Line provides information, advice, and telephone dispute resolution. It is particularly useful for people in rural and remote locations, in Indigenous communities, overseas or in correctional institutions. It is also useful for people who have difficulty accessing face-to-face services, such as those who need to use the National Relay Service or interpreter services.

In July 2009, the Department provided International Social Service Australia with funding of $0.614 million (plus GST) over three years under the Family Relationship Services Program. The funding enables International Social Service Australia to provide a support service for families affected by international parental child abduction.

It is anticipated that on 1 July 2010, the financial settlement regime in the Family Law Act 1975 for de facto couples will be extended to couples in South Australia. Extension of the regime will provide opposite-sex and same-sex de facto couples in South Australia with full access to the federal family law courts on relationship breakdown. Currently, South Australian de facto couples can access the federal family law courts for child-related proceedings, but are required to go to State courts in South Australia on property matters. This duplication not only creates unnecessary additional costs and inconvenience for couples, but also an administrative burden on courts.

Funding is provided to the Victorian Court Information and Welfare Network to operate a non-legal support service in the Family Court registries in Melbourne and Dandenong and to pilot a support service in the Brisbane Family Court registries. The two networks in Melbourne and Brisbane have a total of approximately 300 volunteers who offer assistance to people attending court by providing information on court procedures and processes, moral support, and referral services.

International family law

A major achievement for 2009–10 was the agreement between Australia and the Republic of Lebanon regarding cooperation on protecting the welfare of children, which entered into force on 1 May 2010. The agreement establishes formal procedures to help Australian and Lebanese nationals whose children have been abducted by a parent to either Lebanon or Australia, or where difficulties with contact between a parent and child have arisen. The agreement will secure some of the benefits of The Hague Child Abduction Convention (to which Lebanon is not a party) and is a positive step toward protecting the welfare of Australian and Lebanese–Australian children.

Rights for people with disabilities

The Department, together with other Australian Government agencies and the Australian Human Rights Commission, has worked on a range of projects to enhance the rights of people with disability, provide greater access to services and facilities, and aid access to employment and educational opportunities. These projects will have a significant positive impact on the rights of people with a disability to access essential community services and infrastructure. Projects include:

  • Accession to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 21 August 2009. The Optional Protocol gives the United Nations Committee established under the Convention the power to receive complaints from individuals and groups of individuals who believe that their country has breached the Convention. The Optional Protocol also gives the Committee the power to conduct inquiries into complaints of grave or systematic breaches of the Convention, where there is reliable information to support such allegations.
  • The Disability (Access to Premises–Buildings) Standards 2010 were made by the Attorney-General, and tabled in Parliament, on 15 March 2010. The Premises Standards provide minimum national standards for accessibility requirements to ensure dignified access to, and use of, buildings for people with a disability. The Premises Standards will play an important role in enabling people with a disability to access employment, services and the community on an equal basis with other Australians. They will also deliver greater regulatory certainty for those providing for non-discriminatory access. The Premises Standards are to commence on 1 May 2011 to align with anticipated corresponding changes to building law in each State and Territory.

Under the Commonwealth Community Legal Services Program, nine community legal centres are funded to specifically assist clients under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. These organisations provide appropriate legal services to address the needs of people experiencing discrimination because of a disability or a perceived disability, or because a family member or friend has a disability.

The Disability Discrimination Legal Service has the core aims of achieving widespread understanding of the Act and other relevant legislation, and of educating Community Legal Centre workers. Through this understanding and education, the Service hopes to ensure a resource of knowledgeable advocates available to assist with access to the complaints mechanism within the Act and any other available avenues of recourse. Community legal education plays a vital role in helping people be aware of their rights and responsibilities in this area.

The Department, on behalf of the National Forum on Emergency Warnings to the Community, is developing guidelines to address the communication needs of people with disabilities. The guidelines are intended for emergency managers and emergency service agencies, and provide an overview of communication needs of people with disability. They are being developed in the context of Australia’s comprehensive and integrated emergency management arrangements, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Social Inclusion Principles for Australia, the National Principles for Disaster Recovery and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

Indigenous specific programs and services

Prevention, diversion, rehabilitation and restorative justice

Prevention, diversion, rehabilitation, and restorative justice services are funded under the Indigenous Justice Program for Indigenous Australians across four key areas: youth, prisoner support and rehabilitation, restorative justice, and community patrols. In 2009–10, 70 projects (including 11 Petrol Sniffing Strategy projects) were funded.

Youth projects seek to reduce recidivism by focusing on current and future youth issues that are culturally appropriate for young people at risk. Prisoner support and rehabilitation projects seek to facilitate rehabilitation of prisoners and incarcerated juveniles, and their return and reintegration into the community. Restorative justice projects promote involvement of families, communities, victims and offenders in developing culturally appropriate criminal justice mechanisms for dispute resolution. Community patrols help Indigenous Australians at risk, including intoxicated people, juveniles, victims of violence and the homeless.

Petrol Sniffing Strategy

The Department continued its involvement in the Australian Government’s Petrol Sniffing Strategy to address the negative effects of substance abuse and petrol sniffing in Indigenous communities. This cross-agency approach includes education, justice, community support and health initiatives. The Department’s role is to fund activities for youth in designated regions in the Central Australia region (Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia), the East Kimberley region, Western Australia, and Mornington Island and Doomadgee, Queensland. In 2009–10, we funded 11 projects in the designated regions.

Night patrol services

The Department funded night patrol services across 81 communities in the Northern Territory. Patrols focus on increasing personal and community safety through intervention strategies that prevent disorder in the community and divert Indigenous people from contact with the criminal justice system.

Aboriginal Interpreter Service

The Australian Government jointly funds the Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service (NTAIS) under a bilateral agreement with the Northern Territory Government. Funding supports free access to interpreters for Northern Territory law and justice and health agencies and legal assistance service providers. In 2009–10, NTAIS received $2.311 million under this agreement including $1.092 million provided under the Closing the Gap initiative.This funding was provided to meet the increased demand associated with the Northern Territory Emergency Response, and in particular matters relating to law and justice measures.

Family Violence Prevention Legal Services

Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS) units provide legal assistance, casework, counselling, and court support services to Indigenous Australians who are victims and/or survivors of family violence and/or sexual assault. As well as providing legal assistance, the services provide information, support and referral to appropriate services. There are 31 service sites covering a very large geographic range of rural and remote locations. In 2009–10 there was a move towards regionalisation in some States with a number of service units adopting a coordinated model to provide improved support to services in the field.

There has also been greater recognition of the need for improved community awareness of the role of FVPLS units and the need for a national data collection to document their work.

Indigenous women’s projects

Under the Commonwealth Community Legal Services Program, there is a national network of eight Indigenous women’s projects. The projects provide specific assistance to Indigenous women with legal problems in both rural and urban areas. In June 2010, the Women’s Legal Centre ACT received additional one-off funding of $0.100 million to fund an Indigenous women’s position for 12 months.

Legal Aid for Indigenous Australians Program

Under the Legal Aid for Indigenous Australians Program the Australian Government funds eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services to deliver culturally sensitive legal aid services to Indigenous Australians. The program aims to improve Indigenous people’s access to high quality and culturally sensitive legal aid services so they can fully exercise their legal rights as Australian citizens. Services are delivered at numerous permanent service delivery sites in metropolitan, regional and remote areas across Australia.

Indigenous test case funding

The Government may fund test cases that satisfy relevant eligibility criteria and also:

  • promote review of laws and administrative practices that have the effect of discriminating against Indigenous Australians
  • promote recognition of Indigenous Australians’ social, cultural, economic, legal and political rights through the conduct of litigation, and
  • promote resolution of inconsistencies and ambiguities in the application of existing laws to Indigenous Australians, or to an identifiable group of Indigenous Australians, through the conduct of litigation.

In 2009–10, the Department provided funding for the Trevorrow Stolen Generations Appeal, which was decided in the Full Court of the Supreme Court of South Australia. The Government has funded the Trevorrow case under the Indigenous Test Case Guidelines since 1999–2000 in order to determine whether the South Australian Government was acting outside legislation in removing Indigenous children from their families and thereby providing the Government with legal clarity.

In 2009–10 funding was provided to enable the Aurukun Aboriginal Shire Council and the Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council to seek special leave to appeal to the High Court to test the validity of s 106(4) of the Liquor and Other Acts Amendment Act 2008 (Qld) under s 9(2) and s 10 of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cwth).

Western Australian Indigenous Justice Taskforce

In 2009–10, the Australian Government provided additional one-off funding to finalise the complex and high-cost cases remaining under the Western Australian Indigenous Justice Taskforce established for the East Kimberley communities.

Law and Justice Advocacy Development Program

The Australian Government provides funding to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services to employ officers to:

  • undertake law reform and policy development activities that identify laws, policies and practices that have an adverse and/or disproportionate impact on Indigenous people
  • promote reforms that will lessen the adverse impact, and
  • monitor and report on State and Territory implementation of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommendations.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services also deliver a range of community legal education activities, such as newsletters, posters, advice brochures and outreach visits to remote communities, to advance and protect the rights of Indigenous people under Australian law.

The Indigenous Law Centre within the University of New South Wales was funded to produce the Indigenous Law Bulletin and the Australian Indigenous Review, publications designed to facilitate the advancement of the legal rights of Indigenous Australians through public policy and law reform, service delivery and community education.

Native title

The Department ensures that its approach to native title is consistent with, and contributes in meaningful and practical ways to, the Government’s broader Social Inclusion agenda and the National Indigenous Reform Agenda, agreed by COAG. Throughout 2009–10, the Department has focused particularly on achieving practical outcomes that contribute to the Indigenous economic participation and leadership and governance building blocks that underpin COAG’s Closing the Gap reform agenda. Resolution of native title issues enhances spiritual wellbeing and cultural identity, provides recognition of people’s ongoing connection to land, and facilitates reconciliation with the wider community. In addition, native title provides the opportunity to create sustainable, long-term outcomes for Indigenous Australians, including economic development opportunities.

Tsunami education

During the year, the Department developed two Tsunami education kits: the Tsunami Community Education Kit for Aboriginal Australians in Remote Communities, and the Torres Strait Islander Community Education Kit. Both kits contain educational DVDs, lesson plans for teachers, posters and stickers aimed at educating communities about tsunami warnings and procedures for staying safe.

Funding under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

In September 2009, the Minister for Home Affairs announced that 15 organisations had received funding of more than $6 million under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, following assessment of more than 600 funding applications received in March 2009.

Four of these projects shared just under $2 million to provide Indigenous prisoner throughcare (including rehabilitation, treatment and reintegration in Darwin, northern New South Wales, Western Australia and far north Queensland), while the other 11 funded projects will provide crime prevention benefits to communities around Australia.

State-type services to the Indian Ocean Territories

The Australian Government provides State-type services to the Indian Ocean Territories—Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands—and residents of Jervis Bay Territory consistent with those of comparable communities in Western Australia or the surrounding Shoalhaven area for Jervis Bay. This administered program ensures these remote and isolated communities are afforded the same benefits as their mainland counterparts.

Supporting the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community

The Department specifically funds the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council for activities related to housing, land council and for local government programs.

Through a service level agreement with the ACT Government, the Department has supported a Family Support Worker in the ACT to help Indigenous families in crisis and provide referrals to appropriate support services.

A regular bus service to Vincentia, which connects to a range of destinations in the greater Shoalhaven region, has been in operation for nearly 12 months. This bus service provides residents of Wreck Bay with transport to access broader opportunities in employment, training or tertiary studies, specialist services and an extended social network.

Other social justice issues

The Department supports the Australian Government’s social inclusion agenda, which aims to provide all Australians with the opportunities and resources to participate fully in society and to engage with their communities. The Department actively contributes to this objective by addressing discrimination, improving access to justice for vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians, improving justice outcomes for Indigenous Australians and supporting safer communities.

Policy and service development across the Department align with the principles espoused in the Australian Public Service Social Inclusion Policy Design and Delivery Toolkit. The Department contributed to the Australian Government’s national statement on social inclusion, A Stronger, Fairer Australia, which sets out the Government’s vision for addressing disadvantage and ensuring all Australians feel valued. The Department also provided input into development of the National Compact with the Third Sector, which reaffirms the important role of the not-for-profit sector in addressing social exclusion and improving community wellbeing. The Department works with the third sector to deliver programs and services to the community, and ensures its relationship with the sector is in line with the principles set out in the National Compact.

Restricting the availability of pornography

The Department continues to work with the Department of Family, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs on education materials to raise awareness about prohibited material in the Northern Territory.


Simon Hogan, People, Information and Technology Division and Ashe Bucco, Access to Justice Division 

Simon Hogan, People, Information and
Technology Division and Ashe Bucco,
Access to Justice Division

Our people

Ensuring we all have access to justice

every task has the goal of improving access to justice

In September 2009 the Attorney-General launched A Strategic Framework for Access to Justice in the Federal Civil Justice System.

Ashe Bucco, acting Senior Legal Officer, Justice Improvement Branch, worked with several areas in the Department to implement the report’s recommendations.

‘The report focuses on the need to take a more strategic approach to access to justice issues,’ Ashe said.

‘In particular, the Framework recognises that the justice system is broader than courts and lawyers—it also encompasses private and community-based services that can help resolve disputes before proceedings are commenced or at any stage of the litigation process.

One of the key outcomes of this work was the launch of the Access to Justice website <www.accesstojustice.gov.au> in May 2010.

‘A central finding of the report was that when confronted with a legal issue, people often didn’t know where to go or what to do,’ Ashe explained.

‘Simon Hogan and his colleagues in the Department’s web publishing team worked incredibly hard to develop the website, which aims to provide Australians with seamless access to information about legal and other services. It includes a straightforward search mechanism to help people find services in their local area and ensure they get the help they need.’

For Emma Weatherald, Policy Officer, Justice Improvement Branch, working on the website was fulfilling.

‘The website provided a great opportunity to work on a tangible embodiment of the Government’s access to justice agenda,’ Emma said. ‘We’ve received lots of positive feedback from users, which is very satisfying.’

The Department is working towards implementing other recommendations in the report, a challenge that Ashe is enjoying.

‘The variety of work undertaken, and the fact that every task has the goal of improving access to justice for Australians, makes my role very rewarding,’ she said.


Chapter 14 Ecologically sustainable development

The Department reports on several matters under s 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). These matters relate to the manner in which the Department’s activities accord with, and its outcomes contribute to, the principles of ecologically sustainable development, as well as the effect of the Department’s activities on the environment.

The Department’s activities are consistent with the ecologically sustainable development principle (s 3A of the EPBC Act) that ‘decision making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations’. Further information on the environmentally sustainable development principles can be found at <http://www.environment.gov.au/esd>.

In addition, the Department addresses the principles of ‘inter-generational equity’ and ‘improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms’ through application of the Chief Executive Instructions on Environmental Management and the Green Procurement approach. The Department is consolidating and implementing an Environmental Management System in accordance with ISO 14001. Note that s 3A of the EPBC Act, principles b and d (relating to scientific certainty and biological diversity respectively), are generally of limited application to the Department’s activities.

The Department’s premises at 3–5 National Circuit are the outcome of the first Commonwealth green lease to be negotiated. Under the National Australian Built Environment Rating System, the premises have achieved a 5 star rating for energy and a 4.5 star rating for water.

The Department uses a range of strategies to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment, including:

  • using an electronic document management system to minimise the need to print and retain paper copies of most documents
  • virtualising server hardware to reduce energy consumption
  • using the FollowME Print facility, which reduces the amount of paper and toner being used
  • recycling facilities in work areas, as well as paper recycling in utility rooms
  • reviewing leased buildings and cooperating and encouraging building owners to improve energy performance
  • using a smart lighting system that only activates when areas are occupied
  • ensuring that any new leases entered into comply with the Government’s energy policy, and
  • procuring energy efficient equipment and lighting solutions.

The Department has established a Green Group to raise awareness of, and increase participation in, environmentally friendly work practices and initiatives, as well as to advise the Department on environmental initiatives. Most recently, the Green Group reviewed the Department’s Environmental Management System.

Phosphate Resources Limited has held its current mining lease on Christmas Island since 1990. Under this lease it is required to pay a conservation levy and comply with an environmental management plan for its mining sites. The levy, collected by the Department, is used to fund the work undertaken by Parks Australia North, a division of the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, in rehabilitating mining sites on Christmas Island. All rehabilitation work is reviewed by the Christmas Island Rain Forest Rehabilitation Group, chaired by the Department and made up of representatives from both Australian and State government agencies and industry groups, to ensure best practice rain forest rehabilitation is undertaken on Christmas Island.

The Department manages proposals to clear native vegetation in the Indian Ocean Territories through provisions in the Environmental Protection Act 1986. An environmental officer is employed, and fully funded, through a service delivery arrangement with the Western Australian Government to provide this service. It ensures any clearing proposals are managed in accordance with statutory requirements.

The Department participated in Earth Hour 2010 on Saturday 27 March 2010 by reducing lighting within its buildings to emergency lighting only. This activity continues to raise awareness among staff about ways they can help take action on climate change.

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