Our People



Jill Prior

Jill is the inaugural Principal Legal Officer of the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women, in addition to her role on the Board.  Jill is an accredited specialist in criminal law and has over 15 years’ experience representing clients in criminal matters.

Prior to establishing LACW, Jill was the Acting Principal Legal Officer at the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria.  This role provided a depth to Jill’s Family Law and child protection practice and allowed her to have great input into the policy framework of the organisation.

Jill was previously the Principal Legal Officer at the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) where she worked for over 10 years. As well as advising and appearing on behalf of clients across multiple jurisdictions, she was responsible for the management of the legal practice, comprising 21 lawyers across the criminal, family law and civil law practice areas, in addition to support staff.

Jill’s unyielding commitment and dedication to her work has made her a well-known and respected public figure, in and outside legal circles. Some of Jill’s notable speaking engagements include the Judicial College, the Victorian Bar, the Department of Justice, the Progressive Law Conference (hosted by Monash University), the Drugs and The Law Conference (Centre for Human Rights of Imprisoned People) and the National Association of Community Legal Centres’ National Conference.


Elena Pappas

Elena is a senior lawyer and practice manager at the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women, in addition to her role on the board.

Elena previously worked at Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service where she held the position of Senior Lawyer in the Criminal Law team. She advised and appeared on behalf of clients in complex criminal matters and shared responsibility for the mentoring and management of junior and support staff.

Prior to this, Elena was an Associate in the Workplace Relations team of a highly regarded private law firm in Melbourne. She has experience in the areas of employment, anti-discrimination and occupational health and safety law. She holds a Master of Public and International Law from the University of Melbourne, through which she undertook an internship with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Tanzania. She has worked as a volunteer with the Mental Health Legal Centre, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and Fitzroy Legal Service.


Diane McDonald

Diane McDonald is the inaugural Chair of the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women.

Diane has extensive experience and qualifications in business development and management in the healthcare and disability fields. She has held a number of senior positions in health organisations, including being the CEO of the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women’s Health, the CEO of Resolutions (an Occupational Health and Human Resources consultancy) and the Head of Organisational Development for PPC Worldwide, a global provider of organisational development and employee assistance programmes. She is currently the Chair of the Board of Melbourne City Mission.

Diane’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Applied Science, Graduate Diplomas in Education and Rehabilitation Counselling, and a Masters of Management from Monash University.

Steering Committee

LACW is guided by a steering committee of passionate and knowledgeable women from diverse backgrounds and professional experience.

Nola Karapanagiotidis

Nola Karapanagiotidis is a barrister practicing predominantly in the areas of criminal law, human rights and refugee law.  She signed the bar roll in 2002, having gained experience in criminal and community law as a solicitor.  She has volunteered with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) for over thirteen years.  She is a passionate advocate for social justice and has extensive experience in working with women in the criminal justice system.

In 2013, Nola was awarded the Susan Crennan AC QC Award for her work with the ASRC, in recognition of the estimated 100 cases in which she appeared on a pro bono basis in the Federal Magistrates Court, Federal Court, Full Court and the High Court of Australia.  In 2015 she was awarded the John Gibson Award by the International Commission of Jurists in Victoria for her work in advocating for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.

Crystal McKinnon

Crystal McKinnon is an Amangu woman from the Yamatji nation on the west coast of Australia.  She is currently the Project Coordinator at Elizabeth Morgan House Aboriginal Women’s Service, which provides crisis support, refuge, and case management to women and children experiencing family violence.  Crystal has served as a Research Officer with Native Title Services Victoria and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.  She is currently on the Board of Flat Out Ltd, and was a board member of Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Associated Ltd for over seven years.

Crystal is also a doctoral candidate in the Department of Historical and European Studies at Latrobe University.  Her thesis examines Indigenous resistance to oppression through the use of the creative arts, including music and literature.  In 2014, she was the course coordinator and lecturer for Australian Indigenous Politics at the University of Melbourne.

Crystal is the co-editor of History, Power and Text: Cultural Studies and Indigenous Studies (UTS ePress, 2014), and has had several articles published addressing indigenous politics, and the intersection between gender, crime and homelessness.  Her work has been published in Making Settler Colonial Space: Perspectives on Race, Place and Identity (Palgrave, 2010), the Alternative Law Journal, and Parity.

Jenny Samms

Jenny Samms has held a variety of roles with the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments in a public service career spanning 35 years.  She has served as Executive Director for the Task Force on Aboriginal Affairs, where she oversaw a whole of government strategy to more effectively target public investment and achieve better outcomes for indigenous Victorians, as the Director of Policy and Programming with the Department of Planning and Community Development’s Commonwealth Games team, and as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Education and Training.  She has also led the social policy area in the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Jenny is currently the CEO of Aboriginal Housing Victoria.  She is a Director of AFL SportsReady, a member of the Monash University Indigenous Advisory Council, a Fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs and Administration (Victorian Branch) and a member of the IPAA Indigenous Advisory Committee.

Terrie Stewart

Terrie Stewart is a Taungurung woman.  She is currently the Coordinator for the County Koori Court in Victoria, the first sentencing court for Aboriginal offenders in a higher jurisdiction in Australia, and is responsible for the management of the Court.  Prior to this she worked as the Koori Justice Worker at the Broadmeadows Koori Court for over ten years.  She has also served as a Director on the Board of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS), and has worked at VALS as an Office Manager, Financial Counsellor, Client Services Officer and Client Services Team Leader.  In addition, she has worked as a Youth Support Worker at the Bert Williams Centre, and a Koori Support Worker at the Melbourne Juvenile Justice Centre and Parkville Youth Residential Centre.

Terrie has an unyielding commitment to improving outcomes for Aboriginal people who have entered the criminal justice system.  In recognition of her work in this area, Terrie received a regional and state wide indigenous justice award in 2007.

Tammy Young

Tammy Young is the founder and managing director of Young’s List, a boutique barristers’ clerking service she founded in 2012.

Tammy completed both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws, with Honours in each degree, while raising two small children as a single parent.  As a solicitor, Tammy practised in commercial law and litigation in large and mid-sized law firms, and also undertook an associateship at the Federal Court.  Tammy signed the Victorian Bar Roll in 2008 and worked predominantly in commercial and taxation litigation.  After the birth of her fourth child, Tammy left the Bar and took the unprecedented step of becoming a barristers’ clerk.  This inspired her to start her own stable of barristers, with an emphasis on commercial law.