The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) released its 2017-2018 annual report this month, giving an insight into what was a very busy year for ICAC.

In this week’s edition of Government Bulletin, we have summarised key parts of the annual report.

Structure of ICAC

ICAC underwent major structural changes following the commencement of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Amendment Act 2016 (the Amending Act) on 7 August 2017.

Most significantly, the single-Commissioner model was replaced with two new part-time Commissioners and a Chief Commissioner. In addition, the Amending Act enabled the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in charge of the day-to-day management of ICAC. A CEO was appointed and commenced on 2 July 2018. For further details about charges resulting from the Amending Act, please see our previous article here.

Assessment of matters

ICAC reported receiving and managing a total of 2,751 matters in the 2017-2018 reporting period. This was an 11 per cent increase from the previous year. Most of the complaints to ICAC came from members of the public (46 per cent), followed by from principal officers of NSW public sector authorities and ministers (23 per cent).

Corruption prevention

ICAC has a Corruption Prevention Division that deals with examining laws, practices and processes that may encourage corrupt conduct and undertaking corruption prevention projects.

An area of focus for corruption prevention in the 2017-2018 year was employment application fraud i.e. targeting falsehoods in job applications. To combat this, ICAC released ‘Strengthening employment screening practices in the NSW public sector,’ a publication informing employers about screening methods to help prevent fraud.

During the reporting period, ICAC also delivered 126 corruption prevention workshops to over 2,300 attendees and completed 122 speaking engagements to approximately 4,800 attendees.

Other issues in the annual report

The annual report also outlined the various methods by which ICAC is held accountable both internally and externally and the organisations to which it must account, and provided an update on ICAC’s staffing and financial position for the year ending 30 June 2018.

Looking forward

The Chief Commissioner stated that corruption is not stagnant and like other crimes, evolves over time. The Chief Commissioner identified that a major challenge is to keep up with and be ahead of developing trends and forms of corrupt activities. In terms of this, ICAC has requested its Corruption Prevention Division complete a specialist project each year dealing with a significant area of concern to the public. It has also established a proactive intelligence and research unit to develop systems and processes to identify corrupt activity. The findings from the research unit are to be provided to and used by the Corruption Prevention Unit and will also guide ICAC on its allocations of resources.

In the media

No blanket exception for private schools to expel kids for their sexuality exists – and nor should there be

No blanket exception to anti-discrimination laws currently exists to allow private schools to expel students on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity – and no such exemption should ever be introduced, according to the Law Council of Australia (12 October 2018). More...

High Court asked whether bans on protesting near abortion clinics are unconstitutional

The High Court hears laws banning anti-abortion campaigners from protesting near clinics where terminations are offered go too far, and target lawful and peaceful protests (09 October 2018). More...

Grant to help young offenders get back on track

The program will offer restorative justice circles for first time offenders referred by police, schools or youth workers to help build on the offender’s positive relationships, repair harm caused by the offence and address negative behaviours (09 October 2018). More...

Telstra breaches priority assistance obligations

The ACMA has directed Telstra to commission an independent audit of compliance with its priority assistance obligations for customers with life-threatening medical conditions. Telstra must also implement a range of systems, processes and reporting to assure the future reliability and effectiveness of priority assistance (08 October 2018). More...

New Race Discrimination Commissioner

Australia's new Race Discrimination Commissioner will take up the position on Monday, 8th October 2018. Mr Chin-Leong Tan has been appointed to the position for a term of five years (05 October 2018). More...

Terms of Reference – Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

The LCA has welcomed the Australian Government’s decision to establish a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (the Royal Commission). The decision to consult with the community, including residents, their families and aged care providers, prior to settling the Royal Commission’s detailed Terms of Reference, was also welcomed (04 October 2018). More...

Review of the Family Law System Discussion Paper released

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) today released a Discussion Paper, Review of the Family Law System (DP 86), and is calling for comments and feedback on its proposals for reform. The Terms of Reference for this Inquiry ask the ALRC to consider reform in relation to range of issues outlined here (02 October 2018). More...

Appointment to the Federal Court of Australia

Mr Michael Wheelahan QC has been appointed as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia and commenced in the Melbourne Registry from 3 October 2018 (02 October 2018). More...

In practice and courts

Review of national arrangements for the protection and management of identity information The Review will consider ways to enhance or strengthen arrangements for the protection, use and management of identity information in Australia. Public submissions will be received until 26 October. The review is to report by the end of November. More...

Law Council of Australia Submissions

05 October 2018—Law Council Review of the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Services

AAT Bulletins 2018

Issue No. 39/2018, 8 October 2018

ALRC: Discussion Paper

Published on 2 October 2018 - Consultation Paper

Review of the Family Law System: Discussion Paper

Reminder: Australian Digital Health Agency three month "opt-out period" for My Health Record

As announced by the Australian Digital Health Agency, every Australian will be offered a My Health Record unless they choose not to have one during the three-month opt out period which has been extended to 15 November 2018. A national communications strategy will be implemented to explain the opt-out process. During the opt out period individuals who do not want a record will be able to opt out by visiting the My Health Record website.

New South Wales

​Review of the Domestic Violence Justice Strategy

The Department of Justice is seeking feedback from people who have been the victim or perpetrator of a domestic or family violence incident in the last two years. Your feedback will inform our review of the Domestic Violence Justice Strategy and will help us to improve the NSW justice system’s response to domestic and family violence in the coming years. You can have your say online by 28 October 2018. More...

ICAC 2017-18 Annual Report

The ICAC 2017-18 Annual Report was furnished to Parliament and made public on 5 October 2018. More...

JUDCOM Civil Trials Bench Book

Update 37, 5 October 2018

The Preliminary chapter, Procedure generally chapter, Evidence chapter have been updated. More...

Register now for the 12th National Investigations Symposium

Early bird registration is now open for the 12th National Investigations Symposium, to be held in Sydney November 2018. More...

Cases

'PK' and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Freedom of information) [2018] AICmr 65

Freedom of Information — Whether documents contain deliberative matter prepared for a deliberative purpose — whether contrary to the public interest to release conditionally exempt documents — whether reasonable steps taken to locate documents — Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) ss 11A(5), 24A and 47C.

Quach v NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (No 5) [2018] NSWSC 1519

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – Prohibition order sought against Crown Solicitor appearing for NSW Health Care Complaints Commission in the ACT Supreme Court – previous proceedings seeking substantially the same order dismissed as an abuse of process – these proceedings an abuse of process – no constitutional issues arising – summons dismissed with costs.

DKF v NSW Trustee & Guardian [2018] NSWCATAD 237 ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – Merits review – where NSW Trustee & Guardian decided to lease and approve repairs to the former matrimonial home of the mother (a “protected person” and subject to a financial management order) of the applicants and the second respondent – the applicants disagreed with the decision and sought to have the first respondent approve the first applicant’s daughter move into the home as caretaker – the second respondent agreed with the decision of the first respondent – where paramount consideration is the welfare and interests of the protected person – correct and preferable decision.

Zidar v Department of Justice (No 3) [2018] NSWCATAD 230

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – Government information - excluded information – conclusive presumption against disclosure - legal professional privilege - complaints handling, investigative and reporting functions.

Roberts v Department of Justice and Regulation (Review and Regulation) [2018] VCAT 1560

Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), sections 19, 25A(5), 31(1)(a), 33(1), 35(1)(b) and 38 – whether apparent on the face of a request that all documents would be exempt so that the request did not have to be processed. This proceeding concerns Mr Matthew Roberts’ applications for information about the number and geographical locations of sex work providers in Victoria who are registered with the Business Licensing Authority (BLA) under sections 23 and 24 of the Sex Work Act 1994 (Vic) (SW Act).

Legislation

Privacy (Australian Honours System) Public Interest Determination 2018

This determination applies to the disclosure of certain information by the Department of Home Affairs to the Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet for the purpose of verifying the Australian citizenship and/or permanent residency status of individuals who are the subject of nominations for membership or honorary membership of the Order of Australia, or for other awards in the Australian honours system.

Crimes Legislation Amendment (International Crime Cooperation and Other Measures) Regulations 2018

This instrument amends six regulations, consequential to amendments made by the Crimes Legislation Amendment (International Crime Cooperation and Other Measures) Act 2018, the Crimes Legislation Amendment Act (No. 2) 2011 and the Telecommunications Interception and Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Act 2011.

New South Wales

Regulations and other miscellaneous instruments

Children (Detention Centres) Amendment Regulation 2018 (2018-576) — published 8 October 2018

Companion Animals Amendment (Access to Register of Companion Animals) Regulation 2018 (2018-580) — published 12 October 2018

Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Amendment (Restricted Associates) Regulation 2018 (2018-574) — published 5 October 2018