New leadership in a time of change

New leadership in a time of change

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

We have appointed three new senior leaders in our Criminal Law program, who will play important roles providing support and direction to our lawyers across the state, private practitioners undertaking legal aid work, and the broader criminal justice sector.

After the departure of Trieu Huynh and Guillaume Bailin to become magistrates, Matthew Phillips becoming a judicial registrar, and Anoushka Jeronimous joining WestJustice, there were big shoes to fill as the Victoria Legal Aid and the broader justice systemdeals with significant change due to the COVID pandemic.

In the past few weeks, Emily Allan (Indictable Crime), Deirdre McCann (Appeals and Strategic Litigation) and Amanda Carter (Youth Crime) have been appointed as Program Managers, leaving our Criminal Law team well prepared for the challenges ahead.

‘I’m delighted to have Amanda, Emily and Deirdre join the criminal law leadership team following competitive recruitment processes that included strong internal and external candidates,’ said Dan Nicholson, Executive Director, Criminal Law.

‘Each of them brings to their roles a strong understanding of Victoria Legal Aid clients, expertise in criminal law, and strong commitment to working to improve the criminal justice system in Victoria.’

A breadth of experience

Each of the three new appointees brings with them a commitment to people’s experience of the justice system – an issue that has gained greater pertinence as the pandemic and Victorian restrictions complicate what already could be a confronting time in someone’s life.

‘Although each of them were recruited from other roles at VLA, they bring significant experience from across the criminal justice sector - from private practice, work at the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) and as a public defender,’ said Dan.

Emily joined us in 2016 in the Gippsland office after a career spent in Family Law, then as a solicitor at the OPP from 2009 to 2016.  During that time, she worked in multiple sections of the OPP, including in the Specialist Sex Offences Unit and Regional Prosecutions Team (Circuit).

‘Indictable work is high stakes, and our clients and the community depend on us to provide robust and fair advice and representation,’ said Emily.

‘This is something that we’ve always done well. However, the environment created by COVID-19 is a call to action for all of us, as we assess whether we can do things better.

‘My involvement with the Women in Crime organisation and LIV as well as my experience in a regional office and at the OPP has made me acutely aware of the importance of our program working collaboratively with other stakeholders in the system,’ said Emily.

Since 2017, Deirdre has been the Managing Lawyer of our Dandenong office, one of our biggest regional office practices. Deirdre brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role and a deep understanding of VLA’s practice and our clients, having worked in multiple roles across the organisation over many years including in Summary Crime, Chambers and Practice Standards.

‘Our Appeals and Strategic litigation program is not only about better outcomes for our clients; it is also about recognising and optimising opportunities for broader positive change for the community through litigation,’ said Deirdre.

Since 2018, Amanda has been managing lawyer, Therapeutic Courts, providing statewide leadership of VLA’s work in the Drug Court, Assessment and Referral Court, Neighbourhood Justice Centre and the Koori Court.

She’s been at the forefront of supporting participants in Therapeutic Courts and programs to tell their stories publicly and to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, as well as to inform and strengthen VLA’s policy submissions and advocacy.

With more than 20 years of criminal law experience, Amanda has practised extensively in the Children’s Court.  She is passionate about protecting the unique rights of children and young people, and has previously acted in the role of program manager for Youth Crime.

‘Lawyers in the Youth Crime Program provide expert legal help to children and young people involved in the justice system to ensure they are treated fairly, their rights are protected and their voices are heard,’ said Amanda.

‘We know that diverting young people away from the justice system and linking them with supports in their community reduces their risk of reoffending in the future. We can help connect young people with services, and advocate for therapeutic outcomes that address issues underlying their behaviour, while minimising the time young people are caught up in the justice system.

‘At VLA we use the experience of our clients, and work with others, to influence and effect positive changes to the youth justice system,’ said Amanda.  

‘Amanda, Emily and Deirdre have all spent considerable time working in our regional offices, which is vital given the statewide nature of each of their roles and the importance of supporting legal aid work across Victoria,' said Dan.

The three new appointees join Alice Cashen (Associate Director, Criminal Law), Kate Bundrock (Program Manager, Summary Crime), Prita Jobling-Baker and Josephine Parkinson (Managers, Strategic Policy) and Brighid Feeney (Manager, Reform) in the Criminal Law Directorate leadership team.

More information

Read more about our Criminal Law Services

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