BCLS Lawyer Elsie Stokie named Community Lawyer of the Year

Elsie award-795x637Our very own Elsie Stokie has been named the Law Institute of Victoria’s 2015 Community Lawyer of the Year and was also a finalist for the Regional Lawyer of the Year award.

We are incredibly pleased that Elsie’s decades of hard work and dedication to the legal service and her community has been recognised.

Elsie herself was taken aback by her nomination and subsequent win:

I was surprised by my unexpected nomination, and really touched by the letters of support from people I have worked with over the years. It was an honour to be nominated and to be aware of their good opinion of my work. The award night was a highlight of my career – an exciting evening.  It has been a privilege to be doing work that I believe is really worthwhile: providing access to justice for the disadvantaged and lobbying for law reform. It has also been a pleasure to work with past and present colleagues who share these views.

Elsie established the Geelong Community Legal Service (now the Barwon Community Legal Service) and became its first employee in 1986 and since then has advocated for further funding and expansion. Elsie also co-authored the innovative Family Law Booklet – a plain language document for the benefit of the community that inspired similar subsequent publications. Among many other tireless accomplishments, Elsie has worked on a number of group actions and was a lead litigator on behalf of consumers against the credit practices of Waltons Stores in the 1980s and 90s. It was a number of cases that CLCs ran against Waltons during this period that led to the introduction of our current consumer protection legislation.

Elsie was very passionate and vocal about developing and staffing a legal service in Corio. Due to her determination, ‘The Law Place Corio’ was launched in May 2011. Elsie now does outreach appointments at the Corio Community Health Centre every late Monday afternoon and is constantly booked out, proving just how valuable this service is.

Congratulations to all the finalists, in particular the other Community Legal Centre and Victoria Legal Aid award finalists:

  • Antoinette Braybrook, Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service, Victoria
  • Renuka Senanayake, Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project;
  • Findlay McRae, Victoria Police;
  • Skye Rose, Victoria Legal Aid;
  • Carolyn Howe, Emma House Domestic Violence Service Legal Program;
  • James Wardlaw, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.