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CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

ALRC accountability and governance requirements are met through its Accountable Authority Instructions. These provide the framework to ensure that the ALRC meets its obligations and responsibilities with regard to governance, reporting and accountability of Commonwealth entities and for their use and management of public resources, in line with the requirements of the PGPA Act.

Ministerial powers

The Minister responsible for the ALRC is the Attorney-General for Australia.

The ALRC is a statutory agency under the PGPA Act and an employer subject to the Public Service Act 1999.

The ALRC is constituted under the ALRC Act. Section 20 of the ALRC Act states that the Attorney-General may refer matters to the ALRC for review.

Accountable authority

The Hon Justice Sarah Derrington, President of the ALRC, was the Accountable Authority of the ALRC during 2018–19.

Members of the Commission

Table 4 lists members of the ALRC during 2018–19 and their terms of appointment. On 30 June 2019, there were three members of the ALRC—one full-time member and two part-time members.

Commissioner

Term of appointment

Full-time Commissioner

The Hon Justice S C Derrington

Appointed as President 10 January

2018–9 January 2023.

Full-time Commissioner for Family Law Inquiry

Professor Helen Rhoades

10 October 2017 - 31 March 2019;

resigned 5 November 2018

Part-time Commissioners

Standing Part-time Commissioner(s)

The Hon Justice John Middleton

Reappointed 28 November 2016–27 November 2019

Part-time Commissioner for Corporate Criminal Responsibility Inquiry

The Hon Justice Robert Bromwich

10 April 2019-30 April 2020

Part-time Commissioners for Family Law Inquiry

The Hon John Faulks

21 November 2017–31 March 2019.

Geoffrey Sinclair

21 November 2017–31 March 2019.

Dr Andrew Bickerdike

27 June 2018–31 March 2019.

The Hon Michelle May AM QC

12 December 2018–31 March 2019.

The Hon Cheryl Edwardes AM GAICD

12 December 2018–31 March 2019.

Remuneration

The Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal determines the remuneration for all ALRC Commissioners.

Key management personnel

Key Management Personnel are those persons having authority and responsibility for planning, directing and controlling the activities of the Commission. The Commission has determined the Key Management Personnel to be the President and Commissioner. Key Management Personnel remuneration is reported in the table below.

Key Management Personnel Remuneration

Name

Justice S C Derrington

Prof H Rhoades

Position title

President

Member

Short-term benefits

Base salary

448,402

89,010

Bonuses

Other benefits and allowances

Post-employment benefits

Superannuation contributions

8,418

Other long-term benefits

Long service leave

Other long-term benefits

34,650

6,817

Termination benefits

Total remuneration

483,052

104,245

Policies

The Accountable Authority Instructions and the ALRC Policy Manual contain current ALRC policies, guidelines and procedures on a range of administrative matters. ALRC policies are reviewed and revised as required. All new and revised policies are approved by the President.

New policies implemented or updated during 2018–19 include:

  • Fraud Control Statement and Policy
  • Operational Risk Management Policy
  • Enterprise Risk Management Policy; and
  • Business Continuity Plan and Policy.

Policies that concern interaction with members of the public are published on the ALRC website. New staff members are advised of ALRC policies as part of the induction process and all staff have access to ALRC policies via the intranet.

Corporate planning

The ALRC Corporate Plan 2019–23 is available on the ALRC website.

Financial management and audit

The audit of the 2018–19 financial statements was performed by the ANAO. The Auditor’s opinion was that the financial statements of the ALRC were prepared in accordance with all relevant legislation and Finance Minister’s Orders, and give a true and fair view of the ALRC’s financial position and performance. The ANAO conducted an interim audit of the ALRC 2018–19 financial accounts and provided an interim report to the Audit Committee in July 2019.

The ALRC Audit Committee is established in compliance with section 45 of the PGPA Act and section 17 of the PGPA Rule. The objective of the Audit Committee is to provide independent assurance and assistance to the President on the ALRC risk, control and compliance framework, and its financial and performance reporting responsibilities.

The ALRC President authorises the Audit Committee, within its responsibilities, to:

  • obtain any information it requires from any employee or external party (subject to any legal obligation to protect information);
  • discuss any matters with the external auditor, or other external parties (subject to confidentiality considerations);
  • request the attendance of any employee, including the President, at Audit Committee meetings; and
  • obtain legal or other professional advice, as considered necessary to meet its responsibilities, with the prior approval of the President.

During 2018–19 the ALRC Audit Committee was comprised of 3 members, appointed by the

President, as follows:

  • Chair and External Member: Darrell Yesberg, Chief Financial Officer, Australian Human Rights Commission;
  • External Member: Kathryn Hunter, Chief Financial Officer, Federal Court; and
  • External Member: Helen O’Loughlin, Senior Executive Leader, People and Development, Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

A representative of the ANAO is also invited to attend meetings of the Audit Committee.

The ALRC Audit Forward Plan sets a meeting schedule and outlines the activities of the Audit Committee over the next financial year. The Audit Committee met in September 2018 and March 2019.

The Department of Finance encourages Commonwealth entities to source at least some external members of their audit committee from outside the public sector, in order to strengthen the committee’s independence and broaden its members’ skills (A Guide for Non-Corporate Commonwealth Entities on the Role of Audit Committees, December 2018). In accordance with this advice, in June 2019 the ALRC President appointed Jennifer Clark as Chair and External Member of the Audit Committee from September 2019. The appointment of Darrell Yesberg as Chair and External Member will end following the July 2019 meeting. Ms O’Loughlin was also replaced by Ms Cherie Enders, the Chief Operating Officer at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Ms Enders’ first meeting will be in September 2019.

Fraud control and risk management

The ALRC has a commitment to fraud control and for promoting efficient, effective and ethical use of Commonwealth resources. No fraudulent activity was detected in 2018–19.

The ALRC’s Accountable Authority certifies that the ALRC has prepared Fraud Risk Assessments and a Fraud Control Plan (FCP) and Statement for 2018–21. These were approved by the Audit Committee in June 2018. The FCP is a strategic document drawing together all fraud prevention, detection, minimisation and reporting initiatives adopted by the ALRC to control fraud. The FCP provides the ALRC with appropriate mechanisms for preventing, detecting, investigating or otherwise dealing with, and recording or reporting fraud that meet the specific requirements of the ALRC. The FCP was developed from a risk assessment and is an integral part of the ALRC Assurance and Governance Framework. The ALRC Fraud Control Plan and Statement will be reviewed in March 2021.

The ALRC Audit Committee is responsible for the ongoing monitoring and review of the fraud control framework, including the actions agreed to in the FCP. The President is the Fraud Control Officer and is responsible for ensuring that the appropriate processes are in place to manage the risk of fraud.

During 2018–19, the ALRC has taken all reasonable measures to minimise the incidence of fraud and has raised awareness of fraud control among employees to foster an environment that encourages employee involvement in the strategies to prevent fraud.

The ALRC has assessed that it has a low to negligible residual fraud risk profile, with an effective control environment. In accordance with paragraph 5.2 of the Fraud Control Statement and Plan, the ALRC collects any information relating to fraudulent matters and reports it to the Australian Institute of Criminology annually. No fraudulent activity was detected in 2018–19.

Enterprise risk management

The ALRC’s Enterprise Risk Management Plan (ERMP) was updated in March 2019.

The objective of the ERMP is to identify and articulate any organisational risks and to develop a mechanism to track and report on controls in place, and treatments required, to mitigate these risks.

The ALRC has continued to assess and manage its risks through:

  • appropriate levels of insurance, including cover for public liability, directors’ liability, and property loss or damage, with nature and levels of cover reviewed annually;
  • a positive approach to work health and safety, based on preventative strategies, flexible return to work arrangements and early response to injury;
  • provision of training to staff to ensure that they understand their responsibilities and have the skills necessary to fulfil their responsibilities;
  • transparent reporting of financial management and operational matters, both internally and externally; and
  • updated administrative policies aimed at preventing fraud and managing risk, through a Fraud Control Statement and Plan and Business Continuity Plan.

Ethics

The ALRC fosters a culture of integrity, honesty and fairness in the workplace and actively seeks to comply with all relevant laws, regulations, codes and government standards.

Employees of the ALRC are Australian public servants and must follow the APS Values and APS Code of Conduct, which articulate the culture and operating ethos of the ALRC and provide the framework within which employment powers will be exercised by the President. ALRC employees are expected to comply with ALRC policies, and with any lawful direction given by the President and/or their supervisor.

Any suspected or actual breaches of the APS Code of Conduct will be dealt with in accordance with the ALRC’s Procedures for Determining Breaches of the Code of Conduct, established in accordance with s 15(3) of the Public Service Act 1999. During 2018–19, there were no suspected or actual breaches of the APS Code of Conduct.

The ALRC has a Public Interest Disclosure Policy in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013. This Policy is available on the ALRC website and intranet. During 2018– 19, there were no public interest disclosures.

Conflict of interest

The ALRC Conflict of Interest Policy is designed to protect the ALRC’s reputation and integrity; to ensure that employees understand what a conflict of interest is, and how to recognise and avoid a conflict of interest; and to outline the ALRC process for disclosing an actual or potential conflict of interest. This policy applies to Commissioners, employees, contractors and consultants engaged or employed by the ALRC.

Section 29 of the PGPA Act requires members to disclose any material personal interest in a matter under consideration by the Commission. Section 13(7) of the Public Service Act 1999, which contains the APS Code of Conduct, requires that an APS employee must disclose and take reasonable steps to avoid any conflict of interest (real or perceived) in connection with APS employment. In addition, s 10 of the Act requires that the Australian Public Service performs its functions in an impartial and professional manner.

ALRC employees are required to disclose a potential or actual conflict of interest in advance. Failing to disclose appropriately may be regarded as misconduct. The President maintains a Conflict of Interest Register that records any reported conflict of interest within the ALRC, for the purpose of monitoring and managing the conflict.

During 2018–19, there were no conflict of interest disclosures.

Full-time Commissioners (members) of the ALRC make annual declarations of private interests, which are provided to the Attorney-General in August of each year.

Related party disclosures

Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) 124 sets out the related party disclosures required by reporting entities including those producing General Government Sector financial statements.

The ALRC is committed to complying with applicable Accounting Standards and associated disclosures in the annual financial statements in compliance with AASB 124 and has developed a policy and reporting procedure that meets both the requirements of the AASB and the Department of Finance. This policy requires that ALRC financial statements contain the disclosures necessary to draw attention to the possibility that its financial position and profit or loss may have been affected by the existence of related party relationships and by transactions and outstanding balances, including commitments.

Indemnity

The ALRC carries directors’ liability insurance for all Commissioners of the ALRC and members of the Audit Committee.

Nature of liability

The ALRC insures against damages arising as a consequence of a wrongful act of a director, including an error by omission or commission; a misstatement or misleading statement; or negligent breach of duty.

The ALRC has not indemnified or agreed to indemnify any current or former officer against a liability other than by coverage under the directors’ liability insurance.