Executive Summary

The Department of the Attorney General’s role is to provide high quality and accessible justice, legal, registry, guardianship and trustee services to meet the needs of the community and the Western Australian Government.

This financial year was a busy one for the Department, particularly in terms of the capital works projects completed in this period, the continuing demand on the State’s courts, as well as continuing to implement the Government’s key law and order policy and law and order reforms.

This financial year saw the opening of the landmark $103 million David Malcolm Justice Centre, which accommodates both the Supreme Court’s civil functions as well as office accommodation for the Departments of the Attorney General and Treasury.

In terms of the Department of the Attorney General, the 33-storey building houses the Office of the Public Advocate, the Solicitor General, the Commissioner for Victims of Crime, the State Solicitor’s Office and the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office.

It is named after the former Chief Justice of Western Australia, the late David Malcolm AC QC.

Also opened after a significant $25 million refit was the State Administrative Tribunal building. The building includes 22 hearing rooms, four special mediation rooms, public meeting rooms and audio-visual technology.

In regional Western Australia, Fitzroy Crossing residents now have a new $5.1 million circuit courthouse.

The court replaces the outdated former court built in the 1970s.

The Sunday Court in the Perth Police Complex has continued to be well-used and has substantially reduced the number of accused held in custody for Monday’s court list.

The Office of the Commissioner for Victims of Crime continued to advocate for victims of crime with Government agencies and in the community. The Victim Support and Child Witness Service continued its work counselling and supporting crime victims.

The State Solicitor’s Office and Parliamentary Counsel’s Office continued to provide legal services, advice, and parliamentary drafting services for the State Government and private Members of Parliament.

The State Solicitor’s Office represented the State in matters including the Rayney defamation case, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Bell litigation.

Parliamentary Counsel’s Office drafted the Noongar (Koorah, Nitja, Boordahwan) (Past, Present, Future) Recognition Bill 2015 and Land Administration (South West Native Title Settlement) Bill 2015 to provide the Noongar people with symbolic recognition as traditional owners of the southwest of Western Australia, and give effect to the South West Native Title Settlement Agreement entered into by the State Government and Noongar people to resolve all native title claims in the south-west of Western Australia.

The Department continued its policy development work, including work aimed at reducing Aboriginal over-representation in the criminal justice system.

Significant policy work on legislation amending the Dangerous Sexual Offenders Act 2006, the Bail Act 1982, Restraining Orders Act 1997 and the Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused) Act 1996 took place.

Aboriginal over-representation was largely addressed through a system of regional “Open Days”, which were also expanded into the metropolitan area.

In 2015/16 there were 73 Open Days delivered in priority locations. The locations were researched and identified from data at the Fines Enforcement Registry as being localities where many Aboriginal people were at risk of being incarcerated for unpaid fines and infringements, stay of warrants of executions and/or driving without a licence.

The Office of the Public Advocate continued to protect and promote the human rights of adults with a decision-making disability through the functions given to the Public Advocate under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990.

Reflecting the ageing demographic of the State, the Public Advocate was newly appointed as the guardian of last resort for 468 people, compared to 423 in 2014/15, an increase of 11 per cent.

Similarly in 2015/16, the Public Trustee received 896 new trust clients (including 684 referred by the State Administrative Tribunal), an increase of 13 per cent in new clients compared to the previous year.

Wills education such as WA Wills Week and Royalties for Regions-funded visits to the Kimberley, Gascoyne and Peel regions continued.

This year marked the end of a seven-year project at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to convert the State’s two million paper-based records into an electronic format. The records date back to 1841.

The conversion of historical records provides a faster, more efficient service for issuing birth, death and marriage certificates for Western Australians.

The Registry and other government agencies are now able to more accurately authenticate documents which are provided for the purpose of identity and other official purposes.

For the latter part of the financial year, it was my privilege to act in the role of Director General of the Department, following the departure of former Director General, Cheryl Gwilliam.

I would like to acknowledge the substantial and significant contribution made by Ms Gwilliam since joining the Department in 2007.

The Department has continued to work with the Attorney General, the Hon Michael Mischin MLC and I would like to thank him for his strategic direction and ongoing support of the Department.

It is also important that I thank the Department’s staff, particularly those on the ‘front lines’ of customer service, for their continuing service to the State Government and the people of Western Australia.

Pauline Bagdonavicius
A/Director General
Department of the Attorney General

Last updated: 27-Sep-2016
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