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Report on Performance

ANNUAL PERFORMANCE STATEMENT

Introductory statement

The ALRC annual performance statement is prepared for paragraph 39(1)(a) of the PGPA Act for the 2019–20 financial year and, in the opinion of the President as the Accountable Authority, complies with subsection 39(2) of the PGPA Act.

Our outcome

The intended outcome of the ALRC’s activities is:

Informed government decisions about the development, reform and harmonisation of Australian laws and related processes through research, analysis, reports and community consultation and education (Outcome 1).

The ALRC has one program to achieve its outcome — conducting inquiries into aspects of Australian law and related processes for the purpose of law reform (Program 1). It is through the inquiry process that the ALRC undertakes rigorous research and analysis that underpin recommendations for law reform.

Environment

The ALRC strives to be a law reform agency at the leading edge of internationally-recognised best practice.

The ALRC is reliant on Government for referrals and, accordingly, the extent to which the ALRC can meet its performance targets is influenced from year to year by the number of inquiries referred to the ALRC, the prescribed timeframes for these inquiries and the resources made available to conduct them.

In light of this, the ALRC will continue to work closely with the Attorney-General’s Department to ensure appropriate lead time for planning and managing resources when new inquiries are referred to the ALRC.

Performance criteria for 2019-2020

The ALRC measures its success through the following key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • the number of consultation papers and the number of reports to government;
  • the percentage of inquiries completed on time in accordance with the terms of reference set by the Attorney-General;
  • the number of citations or references to ALRC consultation documents, reports and recommendations in Parliamentary debates and committee reports, in court citations and decisions, and in academic publications and other publications;
  • the number of submissions received;
  • the number of consultations held;
  • the breadth of community engagement in the work of the ALRC through the number of subscribers to the ALRC’s E-news, visitors to the website and followers on Twitter; and
  • the number of publications, presentations, and speaking engagements of ALRC staff.

The ALRC Performance Criteria are sourced from the ALRC Corporate Plan 2019–23.

Result against performance criteria

Table 2: KPI performance 2019-20

Performance measure

2019–20

target

2019–20

actual

Number of reports

4

4

  • Annual Report 2018/2019

(September 2019)

  • Corporate Criminal Responsibility (Discussion Paper 87, November 2019)
  • The Future of Law Reform: A Suggested Program of Work 2020-25 (December 2019)
  • Corporate Criminal Responsibility

(ALRC Report 136, April 2020)

Timeliness of reports

100%

100%

Citations or references

50

261

  • 59 – court and tribunal decisions
  • 167 – academic publications
  • 35 – Parliamentary debates and committee reports

Submissions received

160

59

  • 49 – In response to Corporate Criminal Responsibility (Discussion Paper 87)
  • 3 – Religious Exemptions
  • 7 – Future of Law Reform

Consultations held

45

126

  • 78 – Corporate Crime
  • 27 – Religious Exemptions
  • 21 – Future of Law Reform

Presentations, articles and speaking engagements

25

29

Broader Community Engagement

E-news subscribers

1350

2533

  • 1892 – ALRC Brief
  • 277 – Religious Exemptions
  • 364 – Corporate Crime

Visitors to website

>260,000

  • Visits: 1,802,429
  • Page views: 2,789,677
  • Unique visitors: 1,232,654

Twitter followers

14,000

14,004

The performance criteria were changed in the ALRC’s 2019-23 Corporate Plan (August 2019)

to better reflect the ALRC’s inquiry process.

For full transparency the following are the ALRC’s performance criteria and targets for 2019–20 in the Attorney-General’s 2019–20 Portfolio Budget Statements at pages 114–5.

Table 3: Performance criteria and targets from Attorney-General’s Portfolio Budget Statements 2019–20

Performance Measure

2019–20

target

2019–20

actual

Number of consultation papers and reports.

4

4

Percentage of inquiries completed on time in accordance with the terms of reference set by the Attorney-General.

100%

100%

Number of citations or references to ALRC consultation documents, reports and recommendations in parliamentary debates and committee reports, in court citations and decisions, and in academic publications and other publications.

150

261

Number of submissions received for each inquiry.

250

494

Number of consultations held for each inquiry.

100

785

Breadth of community engagement in the work of the ALRC through the:

number of subscribers to the ALRC’s E-news,

250

2533

visitors to the website; and

>250,000

1,232,6546

followers on Twitter.

>12,000

14,004

Number of publications, presentations and speaking

engagements of ALRC staff.

30

29

____________

  1. Ongoing inquiries with consultation periods during the reporting period.
  2. Ongoing inquiries with consultation periods during the reporting period.
  3. Unique visitors.

Analysis of performance

Number of reports

The core output of the ALRC comprises consultation papers and reports to government with recommendations for law reform.

The ALRC produced four reports in 2019–20:

  • Annual Report 2018/2019 (September 2019);
  • The Future of Law Reform: A Suggested Program of Work 2020-25 (December 2019);
  • Corporate Criminal Responsibility (Discussion Paper 87, November 2019); and
  • Corporate Criminal Responsibility (ALRC Report 136, April 2020).

Timeliness of reports

The timeliness of reports is an indicator of the effectiveness of the ALRC in meeting the terms

of reference for inquiries established by the Attorney-General, which include a reporting date.

During 2019–20 the ALRC delivered the final report for its Corporate Criminal Responsibility Inquiry on 29 April 2020, in advance of the reporting date. The report was tabled in Parliament on 31 August 2020.

The reporting deadline for the ALRC’s review into the Framework of Religious Exemptions in Anti-Discrimination Legislation was amended by the Attorney-General on 2 March 2020 to be 12 months from the date the Religious Discrimination Bill is passed by Parliament.

Court citations

Past ALRC reports are a source of accurate and informative material on the law that is the subject of each inquiry.

The ALRC has identified 59 mentions of ALRC reports in the judgments of Australian courts and tribunals during 2019–20. This included nine citations by the High Court of Australia and 22 citations by the Federal Court of Australia. Frequently cited reports include:

  • Evidence (Interim) (ALRC Report 26, 1985), Evidence (ALRC Report 38, 1987) and

Uniform Evidence Law (ALRC Report 102, 2006);

  • Integrity, Fairness and Efficiency—An Inquiry into Class Action Proceedings and Third-

Party Litigation Funders (ALRC Report 134, 2018); and

  • Grouped Proceedings in the Federal Court (ALRC Report 46, 1988).

Encouragingly, both older and newer reports by the ALRC have been considered substantive evidence-based reports worthy of citation in the superior courts of Australia.

Mentions in Parliament

The number of mentions of ALRC reports in Parliament provides an indication of Parliament’s engagement with the ALRC’s work and the esteem in which it is held.

The ALRC has identified 35 references to ALRC reports and recommendations in second reading speeches and other Parliamentary proceedings during 2019–20. Examples include references to:

  • Family Law for the Future—An Inquiry into the Family Law System (ALRC Report 135, 2019) in relation to the Family Law (Self-Assessment) Bill 2019, the Family Law Amendment (A Step Towards the a Safer Family Law System) Bill 2019, and by the Senate Select Joint Committee on Australia’s Family Law System; and
  • Elder Abuse—A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 131, 2017) in relation to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Amendment (Worker Screening Database) Bill 2019.

References in academic publications

The work of the ALRC has long been a resource for academics studying law as well as social policy. The ALRC strives for its published reports to be authoritative and accurate. In 2019–20, the ALRC was cited in at least 167 academic publications, including journal articles, research papers and textbooks.

Frequently cited reports include:

  • Pathways to Justice—Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Island Peoples (ALRC Report 133, 2017);

  • Family Violence: A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 114, 2010); and
  • Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws (ALRC Report 124, 2014).

Submissions

The number of submissions received by the ALRC is a measure of public engagement with its work and the extent to which the consultation papers have stimulated debate and discussion. However, the number of submissions received for any inquiry is also influenced by its subject matter — particular inquiries are likely to generate a greater, broader degree of public interest and participation than others.

The ALRC received 59 submissions in 2019-20. Forty-nine of these submissions related to the Corporate Criminal Responsibility Inquiry, which was the only formal Inquiry completed during this reporting period.

Only three submissions were received in relation to the Inquiry on the Framework of Religious Exemptions in Anti-Discrimination Legislation. This reflects the fact that the Inquiry was put on hold by an amendment to the Terms of Reference before a discussion paper was released and submissions were called for.

In addition, consultation for the Future of Law Reform project formally ended on 30 June 2019, prior to the current reporting period. The small number of submissions received during this reporting period (seven) were late submissions, while the vast majority of responses (approximately 400) were received prior to 1 July 2019.

Table 4: Submissions received 2019-20

Consultation paper

Submission closing date

Submissions received during reporting period

Corporate Criminal Responsibility (Discussion Paper 87)

31 January 2020

49

Review of the Framework of Religious Exemptions in Anti-Discrimination Legislation

On hold

3

Online survey responses to the Future of Law Reform project received after 30 June 2019

30 June 2019

7

Total submissions received

59

Consultations

For each inquiry the ALRC seeks to consult with people who have expertise and experience in the laws under review, as well as people likely to be affected by the laws in question. The number of consultations held is one indicator of the breadth of the evidence base that underpins the ALRC’s recommendations and of community engagement with the law reform process implemented by the ALRC. In 2019–20, the ALRC conducted 126 consultations with stakeholders and experts across Australia and overseas. Again, the number of consultations held for the Inquiry into the Framework of Religious Exemptions in Anti-Discrimination Legislation reflects the fact that this Inquiry is currently on hold.

Table 5: Consultations held 2019–20

Inquiry

Number of consultations held during reporting period

Corporate Criminal Responsibility

78

Review of the Framework of Religious Exemptions in Anti-Discrimination Legislation

27

Future of Law Reform

21

Total consultations

126

Presentations, articles and speaking engagements

Presenting at public conferences, seminars and Parliamentary inquiries, and contributing articles to journals and publications ensures that the work of the ALRC is publicly debated and discussed. In total there were 29 presentations, articles, and speaking engagements by ALRC Commissioners and staff in 2019–20.

Highlights of ALRC presentations and speaking engagements in 2019–20 included:

  • Keynote address by ALRC President, Justice S C Derrington, to launch the University of New South Wales Law Journal Issue 43(2) ‘Law Reform: Projects, Processes, and Pitfalls’ via video conferencing on 29 June 2020;
  • Keynote address by ALRC President, Justice S C Derrington, at the Australian Bar Association Conference on Family Law Reform in Brisbane on 6 March 2020;
  • ‘Faith, hope and charity – religion as a public benefit in modern Australia’, speech presented by ALRC President, Justice S C Derrington at the Charity Law Association of Australia and New Zealand Annual Public Lecture at Melbourne Law School on 28 November 2019; and
  • ‘The Future of Law Reform – the shortlist’, presentation by ALRC General Counsel Matt Corrigan, Micheil Paton and Tess Van Geelen at the Future of Law Reform Seminar, hosted by the Law Society of Western Australia in Perth on 26 August 2019.

E-news subscribers

The ALRC maintains a general mailing list — the ALRC Brief — to provide regular updates on the ALRC’s work, as well as inquiry‑specific mailing lists. Subscriptions to the E‑news reflect sustained engagement with a specific inquiry or the ALRC’s work generally.

Table 6: E-news subscribers

Audience

Number of subscribers at 30 June 2020

ALRC Brief

1892

Religious Exemptions in Anti-Discrimination Legislation E-News

277

Corporate Crime E-News

364

Total subscribers

2533

ALRC website

The ALRC website is a pivotal communication tool for the ALRC and a law reform resource for the wider public. The ALRC strives to continually build value into the website, both in terms of providing useful and accessible content for stakeholders and researchers, and utilising its functionality as an online consultation tool. The ALRC launched its new website in September 2019. The new website makes it easier for stakeholders and other members of the public to find relevant information, and allows the ALRC to accept submissions directly through the website, reducing manual processing.

Key website metrics from Google Analytics for 2019–20 include:

  • visits = 1,802,429;
  • page views = 2,789,677; and
  • unique visitors = 1,232,654.

These metrics represent, compared to the 2018–19 reporting period:

  • 9.6% increase in visits;
  • 4.2% increase in page views; and
  • 8.7% increase in unique visitors.

Figure 1: Comparison of website traffic: July–June in 2018–19 and 2019–20

ALRC website statistics indicate that it is not just through implementation of its recommendations that the ALRC makes a significant contribution to the discussion of laws and legal frameworks in Australia.

In 2019–20, the top four ALRC reports accessed through the website were as follows:

  • Recognition of Customary Laws (ALRC Report 31, 1986);
  • Pathways to Justice–Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (ALRC Report 133, 2017);
  • Essentially Yours: The Protection of Human Genetic Information in Australia (ALRC Report 96, 2003); and
  • Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws—Improving Legal Frameworks (ALRC Report 117, 2011).

The continued inclusion in this list of the Recognition of Aboriginal Customary Laws Report from 1986 illustrates the enduring value of the ideas, discussion and research contained in this landmark report.

Twitter followers

The ALRC uses Twitter to provide updates on its inquiries and publicise opportunities to engage with its work. The number of people following the ALRC’s Twitter account tracks broader engagement with law reform and the subject matter of ALRC inquiries. On 30 June 2020, the ALRC’s Twitter account had 14,004 followers, a 3.8% increase from 30 June 2019.

During 2020 the ALRC also increased engagement on the social media platform LinkedIn. This platform provides a targeted audience of professionals, particularly in the legal sphere, who are predominantly located in Australia. On 30 June 2020, the ALRC LinkedIn account had 5,561 followers, a 200% growth since January 2020.