Heidi Yates appointed ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner, John Hinchey steps down
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Heidi Yates appointed ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner, John Hinchey steps down

Trailblazing, a strong advocate and a respected leader are all terms used to describe Canberra's new Victims of Crime Commissioner, Heidi Yates.

Ms Yates will leave her position as head of general practice at Legal Aid ACT to join the Human Rights Commission in March.

Heidi Yates has been appointed as the ACT's new Victims of Crime Commissioner.

Heidi Yates has been appointed as the ACT's new Victims of Crime Commissioner.

Photo: Jamila Toderas

The appointment was announced on Friday, following the departure of long-serving former commissioner John Hinchey in late-2017.

A local in the true sense of the word, Ms Yates was born in Canberra, schooled at Kaleen Primary, Canberra High and Daramalan College. She studied at ANU, graduating in 2006, and since then had spent her career engaging in front-line victim support for Canberrans.

Ms Yates said the hundreds of victims and their families she's met over the past 13 years are the driving force of her work in the sector.

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"I think the best systemic advocacy is informed by front-line engagement with victims, and that is something that has been core to all of my systemic advocacy and law reform work here in the ACT," she said.

"One of the biggest challenges in the sector is being fortified by the change you can make to people that you are helping, and not overwhelmed by all of the unmet need."

Ms Yates played a major role in reforming family violence legislation in the ACT, and is a champion of the development and funding of free legal services across Australia.

Adding to her impressive resume, she was a Young Australian of the Year finalist in 2011, and was nominated Young Lawyer of the Year by the ACT in 2008.

Looking forward, Ms Yates said she hopes to continue to drive the development of a Victims Charter in the ACT, improve the accessibility of services, and ensure Canberra has the "best possible range of services".

She's pleased to be continuing the "fantastic" work of previous commissioners in the ACT, where being a small jurisdiction you could "get things done".

"There's a great deal of work to be done," Ms Yates said.

"It's a really exciting position because of it's breadth, and I'm really looking forward to getting started."

ACT Human Rights Commissioner Helen Watchirs described Ms Yates as "perfect for the job".

"We're very excited to welcome her on board," Ms Watchirs said.

"She has a very strong record of engagement with the community, and she's a very strong advocate."

Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury said Ms Yates was well-known and respected leader in the community for her work as a victims advocate.

"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.

Kimberley Le Lievre

Kimberley Le Lievre is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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