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New SA integrity chief named

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A senior prosecutor who helped reform South Australia’s child sex abuse and domestic violence laws has been appointed the new director of the now standalone Office for Public Integrity.

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Attorney-General Josh Teague appointed one of his former department workers and current senior prosecutor Emma Townsend as the new director of the Office for Public Integrity (OPI).

Townsend will take over from current acting OPI director Fraser Stroud on January 7.

It comes after the Government in October officially separated the OPI from the Independent Commission Against Corruption to create two standalone independent integrity agencies in line with recently-passed legislation.

Under the reforms, which were swiftly and unanimously passed through parliament in September to the chagrin of ICAC Commissioner Ann Vanstone, misconduct and maladministration investigations have been handed to the State Ombudsman, while the OPI is now tasked with assessing complaints about public officers to determine whether they warrant investigation.

Teague said Townsend had a 20-year background in the legal profession, including working as a solicitor and prosecutor within the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

During her time at the agency, she managed the vulnerable witness team, which is responsible for prosecutions involving child sex abuse and other matters involving vulnerable witnesses.

In her previous role working for the Attorney-General’s Department’s legislative services division, Townsend helped reform child sex abuse and domestic violence laws.

“As solicitor, prosecutor and senior prosecutor within the Office of the Direct of Public Prosecutions, Emma Townsend has had extensive experience in prosecuting complex criminal matters across a range of serious offences,” Teague said.

“She has been responsible for managing teams of prosecutors, instructing them and overseeing their trial work.”

Teague thanked Stroud for his “steady guidance and leadership” overseeing the OPI while it transitioned into a standalone agency.

Townsend said she was “committed to ensuring the Office for Public Integrity continues to perform to the highest possible standard, fulfilling its duties in supporting integrity, honesty and transparency in public administration”.

As well as assessing complaints about public officers, the OPI is also tasked with handling reports about corruption, misconduct and maladministration in public administration, and overseeing the assessment and investigation of complaints and reports about the conduct of SA Police officers.

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