Words by Emily Ainsworth, photography by David Field
It was Vicki's strong feminism and work in women's domestic violence refuges during the 80s that led her to become passionate about the work that community legal centres can do for marginalised groups.
"I realised that community legal centres are amazing places that make the law accessible to people who are excluded from many of the privileges that life has to offer."
Vicki is currently the Centre Director of the Inner City Legal Centre (ICLC), a community legal centre known for its LGBTIQ expertise.
"As a lesbian, working at ICLC means I can meaningfully contribute to my community. Doing social justice work and working in the LGBTIQ community is a passion project really."
Her decision to have her portrait taken while working for Fair Play at the 2019 Mardi Gras is reflective of Vicki's passion for using the law to advocate for the LGBTIQ community.
"Fair Play symbolises a great relationship between the police force, the legal community, Mardi Gras and ACON. People really value it."
At ICLC, Vicki finds her work for transgender clients to be particularly fulfilling.
"It's good to be able to make a difference in such a specialised space. We have a Trans and Gender Diverse Advisory Committee which enables us to communicate with the community about changes they'd like to see in the legal space."
Since she first started working at ICLC, Vicki has seen significant changes in the types of communities ICLC works with. Recently, there has been an increasing focus on intersectionality.
She acknowledges that while fundamentally aligned in their views, the LGBTIQ community can be divided over specific beliefs. However, Vicki believes that disagreement and internal division is to be expected when you bring together a community of people who have, in some way or another, struggled to get where they are.
The marriage equality debate exemplifies this issue. For many LGBTIQ people, it is an incredibly important milestone, but simultaneously, it poses a challenge for feminists who might disagree with the institution of marriage as a whole.
Vicki herself felt torn between these two perspectives and acknowledged that these tensions can be challenging to face in her field.
"Our role is to support individuals with legal advice and representation. In that sense, we're removed from the advocacy framework. However, when you take direction from the community, you have to know what they want."
When asked about the potential challenges that marginalised communities face when protecting their rights, Vicki pointed to the potential inaccessibility of the law.
"I'm quite critical of the law as an institution. I think it can alienate those who don't have power, education or money."
Vicki explains how community legal centres help to bridge the gap. Through understanding the specific issues of marginalised communities, they provide a trusted and accessible source of legal help.
"We're really thinking about our audience. We try to come up with initiatives that are going to engage the people to whom we target our services. If someone doesn't qualify for our service, and we don't think they're capable of ringing another service, we'll do that for them. It's just about making the law as accessible as possible for people."
Copyright Field, Doraisamy, Standish and Ainsworth 2016-2019