After being nominated and voted for by her community, Street Law Solicitor Michelle Barclay has been named a Westfield Woden Local Hero.
Michelle received the nod for her work helping Canberrans experiencing homelessness and helping women in the Canberra prison access legal services, in a trauma-informed way.
The Women in Prison Legal Empowerment Service (WIPLES) began in April last year and has since helped more than 50 women access a lawyer.
This program is an early intervention for evictions and has helped prevent homelessness upon release from prison and has helped more than $45,000 of debt be waived.
Michelle said that meant women released from prison could focus on reintegrating back into the community without additional financial hardship.
She has also helped a woman detainee who was a domestic violence survivor have ACT traffic fines removed from her name, and now once she is released, she will be able to get her driver’s licence back.
Michelle Barclay said she feels “very honoured” to be recognised for her work.
“I look forward to this opportunity to share the positive impacts that we are achieving for some of the most disadvantaged people in our community,” Michelle said.
“I enjoy working with the women at the AMC, and I feel privileged to be able to provide them with a trusted point of contact for legal services in the ACT.
“I can only achieve this through working collaboratively, and with the strong support of, ACT Corrective Services, Legal Aid ACT, the Women’s Legal Centre ACT, the Consumer Law Centre of the ACT, McKenna Taylor, Women’s Health Matters and Care financial counselling.”
Canberra Community Law Executive Director and Principal Solicitor Genevieve Bolton said they are incredibly proud of Michelle’s “outstanding leadership” in running the Women in Prison Legal Empowerment Sessions program.
“Michelle is committed to providing access to justice to the women at the AMC as well as to those who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness,” Genevieve said.
“She is passionate about providing information and advice, legal education and outreach, in plain and accessible language, so that people in crisis can understand”
ACT Corrective Services Commissioner Jon Peach said it was wonderful to see Michelle’s work with the WIPLES program recognised.
“I very much appreciate Michelle’s ongoing dedication and commitment to supporting our women detainees at the AMC and the positive difference that this program makes to them,” he said.