I am pleased to present the 2021–22 Annual Report of the Department of Justice, which provides a summary of the extensive work undertaken across all areas of the Department over the last 12 months.
COVID-19 continued to be a factor in our work throughout 2021–22, with the large increase in case numbers which followed the opening of Tasmania’s borders in December 2021 and subsequent Omicron variants, impacting on our people and operations. Significant numbers of staff either tested positive for COVID-19 or were a close contact of positive cases, which at times put pressure on some areas of the Department to maintain business continuity, as did a snap three-day lockdown of Southern Tasmania in October 2021. Where possible, staff worked from home while in isolation or quarantine. We adapted our services where necessary to manage the risks and ensure we continue to deliver high quality services while protecting our staff, clients and the community. Throughout the year, we continued a number of measures to keep our workplaces safe including use of personal protective equipment such as face masks, increased cleaning, opting for virtual meetings rather than face to face ones, and imposing a requirement for all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. I would again like to thank all staff across the Department for their assistance with these measures, particularly staff in the Tasmanian Prison Service who did a fantastic job managing the outbreaks that occurred in prison facilities during the year.
The Department continued to lead the Tasmanian Government’s engagement with the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings. This work has been incredibly demanding of staff in the Child Abuse Royal Commission Response Unit and the Office of the Solicitor General, due to the combination of the volume of requests, tight timeframes and the sensitive subject matter. These staff have done an incredible job of meeting the Commission’s requirements and providing support to those who were required to provide information to and/or appear before the Commission. I would like to acknowledge the work of all staff involved in the Tasmanian Government’s response to the Commission, noting this work will continue into 2022–23.
This year has seen a continuation of the heavy work program for the Department’s policy and legislation staff in order to progress the Tasmanian Government’s reform agenda. A large number of Bills were either tabled or passed by Parliament, and many other bills and policy issues were the subject of consultation processes during the year. This responsibility has been shared between the Strategic Legislation and Policy Branch, WorkSafe Tasmania, and Consumer Building and Occupational Services, who all have diverse legislative responsibilities.
Consumer Building and Occupational Services was required to respond rapidly to a number of building company collapses that left consumers with unfinished homes and limited avenues of redress. The team responded quickly to the Tasmanian Government’s initiative to develop a financial assistance package that would provide compensation for affected consumers until a new home warranty insurance scheme can be implemented. A consultation paper outlining issues to be considered in determining the scope of a home warranty insurance was released in May with a view to having a scheme operational as soon as possible.
Throughout the year, we have progressed major projects related to both physical infrastructure and information and communications technology systems.
A major milestone was achieved with the practical completion of the Southern Remand Centre in April 2022. The Southern Remand Centre is a high quality, modern correctional facility that will support a new operating model that reflects the status of remandees. Given the disruption that has occurred in the construction industry in recent years, it is testament to all involved that this project was delivered on budget and only a few weeks behind schedule. Work has continued on planning for the Northern Correctional Facility and new Burnie Court Complex, and work has continued or begun on other projects including a new kitchen for the Risdon Prison Complex and a new 50 bed maximum security accommodation unit.
Our two most significant ICT projects, Astria and PlanBuild Tasmania, are both also progressing well.
As in previous years, I would also like to recognise the large amount of business as usual activity undertaken across the Department during 2021–22, which is not often recognised but makes such an important contribution to the Tasmanian community we serve. I would like to thank all staff of the Department for their work and dedication over the last 12 months, recognising that for many of us this year has been a particularly challenging one. Our people are the most important resource we have and enable us to achieve all that we do. The skill, expertise and commitment they bring to their roles and the enthusiasm with which they undertake their work continues to make me proud to lead the Department.
We progressed a range of projects to ensure we attract and retain the best people and effectively support them in their roles. This work is underpinned by our People Strategy, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and continued implementation of our values. In 2021–22 we launched a new recruitment and selection framework, statement of commitment to learning and growth, LGBTIQ+ Action Plan, gender affirmation in the workplace policy, reward and recognition framework, and gender respect and fairness action plan.
Significantly, in October 2021 we also launched our Wellbeing Support program. The program recognises that the nature of the Department’s work can make our people susceptible to physical and psychological injury; and puts in place a holistic and proactive service to support their physical and mental health and wellbeing. The program is staffed by a team from a range of professional backgrounds, including psychology and case management, and take up of their services has been pleasing.
I would like to acknowledge and thank a number of senior staff who left the Department this year, and also welcome several new colleagues. Nick Evans, previously Deputy Secretary Regulation and Service Delivery and a key member of Agency Executive for a number of years, resigned to take on new challenges in the private sector. Nick was replaced by Ross Smith, who came to us from the Department of Health and has quickly settled in to the role and become a key leadership figure. Rod Wise was appointed to the new positon of Deputy Secretary Corrective Services (created in 2021) and joined the Department following an extensive career in corrections interstate. I would like to thank Kristy Bourne who had previously overseen the corrections portfolio for some time, in addition to her other responsibilities.
Rod’s appointment as a fourth Deputy Secretary allowed us to realign portfolio responsibilities with Agency Executive in 2021–22. All these changes are captured in our Organisational Chart which is included in this report.
We have also seen change in several key statutory independent positions, with Solicitor-General Michael O’Farrell SC and Crown Solicitor Alan Morgan stepping down from their roles in late 2021. I would like to thank Michael and Alan for their contribution and counsel during their tenure, and welcome their replacements, Sarah Kay SC and Stephen Bendeich respectively. The Director of Crown Law Michael Varney also left his role, and I would like to acknowledge John Withers who acted in the position for a number of months until Chelsea Trubody-Jager was formally appointed to the role.
I would also like acknowledge the contribution of Brad Wheeler, previously Director Strategic Infrastructure Projects, who left the Department after overseeing the largest program of infrastructure development the Department has undertaken in many years.
I thank all those senior staff who left the Department in 2021-22 for their contribution, expert advice and leadership during their time with Justice, and wish them well for their future endeavours.
I would also like to thank the current leadership of the Department, including the four Deputy Secretaries, Output Managers and Statutory Office holders (and people who have acted in these roles) for their contribution in 2021–22. The demands on these individuals are significant and I feel fortunate to have such a knowledgeable, skilled and committed team leading staff across the Department to deliver services and outcomes for the Tasmanian community. These qualities are replicated throughout our entire Department.
More information on all the initiatives I have referred to here, along with qualitative and quantitative performance reports, financial statements and information required to be published to meet compliance obligations, is provided in this annual report, which I commend to you.
Department of Justice
23 September 2022
Here’s a snapshot of our Department as at 30 June 2022. Download our Annual Report from the links below to read about us in more detail.
In 2021-22 the Department
1,643 staff equating to 1,541.4 full time equivalents (FTE)
*Note: The Department has 5 employees who identify as non-binary, use a different term to describe their gender, or have not disclosed their gender.
Highlights amongst the range of projects and initiatives progressed across the Department during the 2021-22 reporting period include:
Contact email@example.com for more information.
Visit the Libraries Tasmania online archive for earlier annual reports.