A key human rights and legal aid lawyer, Heidi Yates, has been appointed the ACT’s Victims of Crime Commissioner, replacing John Hinchey who has retired.
Ms Yates at present is the Head of General Practice at Legal Aid ACT and has held a number of roles focused on the delivery of essential services to victims of crime in the Territory, particularly those subjected to family violence, sexual assault and harassment.
A champion for the development and funding of free legal services across Australia, Ms Yates served as a member of the Domestic Violence Crisis Service Board from 2004 to 2014 as well chairperson from 2010 to 2013, Executive Director of the Women’s Legal Centre and as a member of the former ACT Victims Assistance Board. She is a current member of the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council and the ACT Family Violence Intervention Program Coordinating Committee.
As inaugural chair of the ACT Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer Ministerial Advisory Council, Ms Yates advocated for landmark human rights legislation that removed the requirement for persons to undergo intrusive surgery in order to change their legal sex.
Ms Yates’s work was nationally recognised in the 2017 publication ‘Trailblazing Women and the Law: seven decades of Australia’s Pioneer, ‘Trailblazing’, Women Lawyers.
Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury said Ms Yates had been a well-known Canberra advocate for victims and a respected leader who has provided valuable advice on key reform to the ACT Government.
“I am looking forward to working with Ms Yates to ensure victims of crime in Canberra have the right support available to them when they need it most,” he said.
Ms Yates will join the ACT Human Rights Commission on 19 March.