I am pleased to present the Annual Report of the Department of Justice for 2019-20, my first report since returning to the Department in the role of Secretary on 2 September 2019.
It has been a big year for the Department, not only with a number of significant projects reaching milestones during the reporting period, but also in responding to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which have impacted on individuals and organisations globally.
In returning to the Department after several years away, I was pleased to see that a number of long planned infrastructure, technology and law reform projects were either underway or planned. As I have been engaging with people across the Department since my return, I have been reminded not only of the diversity of work the Department is responsible for, but also the high calibre of staff we have working for us and the commitment and enthusiasm they bring to their work. I would like to take the opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank our people who always do a fantastic job, but have shown great resilience and flexibility in adapting our services to ensure we were able continue to provide them to the community, and in some cases expand them, during the pandemic. You will find a section detailing the impacts COVID-19 has had on the Department and the ways in which we have responded later in this report.
In recent years the Department has commenced a number of projects which focus on the delivery of technological solutions to either address longstanding issues, enhance service deliver or enable additional services to be delivered online. Key amongst these is the much anticipated Astria project which will deliver an IT solution to support the work of Courts and Corrective Services and overcome longstanding issues with information management. During 2019-20 significant progress has been made on Justice Connect and, while there is still much work to be done, delivery of this important project will benefit not only a number of areas within the Department but also many of our stakeholders and the broader community.
Another key technology focussed project is Plan Build Tasmania, which when completed will streamline the development application process for property owners and the building industry, through an online portal. During 2019-20 the project team has made significant progress, working closely with the vendor and stakeholders, with the initial functionality expected to be live in early 2021. A range of other projects across the Department either improved our existing systems or introduced additional systems and/or functionality. Key examples in 2019-20 include continued work to deliver Births, Deaths and Marriages services to the community online, and the implementation of InspectIT, a new information management system for WorkSafe’s inspectors which will allow greater access to information for staff and enhance their statistical reporting capability.
Another highlight of 2019-20 has been the progress made towards establishment of the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (TasCAT). TasCAT will bring together a range of decision making bodies supported by the Department of Justice, to promote alternative dispute resolution programs and provide greater consistency in decision making, while enabling seamless service delivery to clients. Significant progress has been made towards development of legislation to formally establish TasCAT and work has also been completed on a new purpose designed facility which will be occupied by a number of Tribunals from mid-July 2020.
2019-20 saw the Department continue to support the government’s legislative agenda with a number of new Bills introduced to Parliament, along with a range of policy development work that was completed and the provision of continued policy support for the Attorney-General. As always our legislative program covered a breadth of issues, but notable reforms include legislation to give effect to aspects of the government’s response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, reforms to support victims of sexual assault, amendments to the Criminal Code, reforms in the area of bullying, including cyberbullying, and one punch assaults. We also delivered a long anticipated package of legislative reforms to modernise and streamline a number of aspects of the operation of the Magistrates Court. Our Strategic Legislation and Policy Team also played a lead role in developing the legislation introduced to give effect to a number of measures as part of the whole of government response to the COVID-19 emergency. This required liaison and negotiation with a range of other Agencies across government and was undertaken in very tight timeframes given the need to respond quickly to the evolving situation.
Our Planning Policy Unit has continued to play a key role in leading the delivery of the government’s comprehensive planning reform agenda. Work in this space in 2019- 20 has included working with local government to assist them in delivering the components of the regulatory framework for which they are responsible, progressing the Major Projects legislation and delivering work on a number of specific aspects of the reform program.
Work has been progressing on a range of infrastructure projects, particularly in the corrections area. During the reporting period construction of the $70 million Southern Remand Centre has commenced, along with further planning and consultation in relation to the Northern Regional Prison – for which a new preferred site was announced in the last days of the reporting period. A number of other upgrade projects are underway or planned across our Courts and corrections facilities to ensure we are delivering modern, fit for purpose infrastructure that supports our work in these areas.
The Tasmania Prison Service has continued to implement a range of initiatives designed to improve the safety, security and efficiency of our prison system. Key achievements in 2019-20 included establishment of a dedicated Indigenous Offenders Team, completion of the roster review and implementation of the changes that were recommended, and working with TasTAFE to develop an integrated education model for prisoners which will be implemented in the coming year.
I was proud to launch both our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Flexible Work Policy during the last 12 months, as well as beginning the process of refreshing our organisational values. All three of these initiatives are important to ensure we have an organisational culture that values and supports our people and enhances the work we do. To further our commitment to the health and wellbeing of our staff, this year for the first time we have appointed a Wellness Coordinator to drive our work in this important area.
At a strategic level, within the Department we have continued to work to implement the seven Key Priorities identified in our Corporate Direction for 2019-20. We have also established an internal Change Management Team, to inform the many significant reforms and projects we have underway in various parts of the organisation, and increased our focus on internal communication.
In February 2020 we made some significant changes to the portfolio management responsibilities of the three Deputy Secretaries and myself to establish a more balanced workload whilst ensuring a mix of stability, consistency and opportunity for change.
We have welcomed several new staff in key leadership positions within the Agency during 2019-20, with Peter Graham appointed as Executive Director Consumer Building and Occupational Services, and Pauline van Adrichem as Director Community Corrections.
I would also like extend my gratitude to Kathrine Morgan-Wicks, who I replaced as Secretary when she took on the role of Secretary of the Department of Health in September 2019, for the significant reforms and progress that she oversaw during her time Secretary of the Department of Justice.
Further details on all of the initiatives I have mentioned and with many others, as well as information on our the performance of our core business activities, detailed financial statements and information in compliance with other reporting requirements, are provided throughout this report, which I encourage you to review in further detail.
Department of Justice
20 August 2020
Here’s a snapshot of our Department as at 30 June 2020. Download our Annual Report from the links below to read about us in more detail.
In 2019-20 the Department
1,530 staff equating to 1,435.4 full time equivalents (FTE)
*Note: The Department has two employees who identify as non-binary.
Annual Report 2019-2020
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