Victorian barrister wins ALA Member of the Year
24th Oct 2023
A Victorian barrister who regularly acts for plaintiffs in prison and police tort matters, Ms Stella Gold, has received the Australian Lawyers Alliance’s 2023 Member of the Year Award.
Stella Gold was presented with the award during the ALA’s National Conference on the Gold Coast on the weekend.
“Stella is a truly deserving recipient of our Member of the Year Award,” said Mr Shaun Marcus, National President, ALA. “Stella’s work on critical civil liberty and human rights issues in Victoria is having a real and positive impact.”
Stella was co-counsel for Aunty Donna Nelson at the coronial investigation into the death of her daughter Veronica Nelson. Veronica was a Gunditjmara, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman. She was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting, denied bail and held at a maximum security prison. Veronica died in custody due to complications from heroin withdrawal and an undiagnosed medical condition.
Chief amongst the Coroner’s findings was a recommendation for urgent review of the Bail Act to repeal any provision having a disproportionate adverse effect on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In response the Victorian government has introduced legislation so people charged with minor, non-violent offences, will be spared remand and granted bail more easily.
“Stella’s advocacy helped the family find answers to questions about what happened to Veronica but also helped change the law in Victoria,” said Mr Marcus. “Her commitment to Veronica’s case and law reform for the Aboriginal community in Victoria is truly admirable.
“Stella’s willingness to share this passion and her learnings with other ALA members has helped us all grow in our understanding of, and determination to address, access to justice issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
This year two members were awarded ALA Member of the Year with WA barrister Graham Droppert SC also acknowledged for his work.