Award Nominees 2017 

Christopher Charles is a quiet yet indomitable spirit who has been a passionate legal advocate for the vulnerable for 40 years. His role as senior counsel for the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (SA) has seen him acting for hundreds of Indigenous defendants in addition to acting for Yatala residents in the SA Licensing Court and supporting Aboriginal communities in their dealings with police. Mr Charles’ other professional achievements include as acting as a key information source for the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in the 1980s, giving evidence in the Petrol Sniffers Inquests of 2002 and 2005, and in the Sleeping Rough Inquest of 2012, and most recently having given evidence to the Select Committee on the Administration of South Australia’s Prisons.  Chris has been the Chair of the Society’s Aboriginal Issues Committee since 1998 and is a Member of the Human Rights and Reconciliation Action Committees. 

Melanie Little has worked tirelessly in both South Australia and the Northern Territory to promote justice for Aboriginal people, firstly as a solicitor, then as a barrister and lastly as a Magistrate. She has been pivotal in establishing Aboriginal Sentencing Courts. RASSA’s Management Committee is comprised entirely of volunteers.  

The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service (WDVCAS) aims to improve access to justice for all sufferers of domestic and family violence, ensuring that their needs are heard and responded to.  The Service additionally assists with the termination of tenancy on the basis of domestic abuse through the SACAT.  Since 2015, the Service has provided over 1000 women with free legal advice or representation.  WDVCAS services are not means tested; it is very supportive of those from culturally diverse or Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.  The Service provides free translators of any language where required by clients.  WDVCAS works hard to meet the increasing demand across SA for legal assistance in domestic violence matters.  

In 2015 the Refugee Advocacy Service launched its Migration Assistance Project which aims to assist asylum seekers resident in South Australia, who cannot afford commercial representation, to access free, professional assistance to complete their application for protection. To date, the Service has assisted in the lodgement of over 175 protection applications, keeping refugees safe from the atrocities of war, persecution and political upheaval.  RASSA operates on an extremely tight budget under strict timeframes set by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.  The Committee has recruited over 50 lawyer/migration agent volunteers and 15 volunteer interpreters, has provided specialised training to all migration agent volunteers and workshops on migration law, with a particular focus on the provision of migration assistance to asylum seekers.  

Adrian Cartland is the creator of Ailira, the Artificially Intelligent Legal Information Research Assistant, which automates legal research and advice via use of algorithms. Ailira is currently used by hundreds of Australian tax advisers from ‘Big 4’ to small practices.  Ailira has been taught to provide tailored legal information to consumers, initially in the areas of domestic violence, business structuring and wills and estates.  Adrian won SA Government funding to deliver a prototype of Ailira to assist victims of domestic violence and has continued to himself fund the development.  By providing free (or cheap), convenient and fast legal information and assistance, Ailira helps to deliver access to justice to those who may not have been able to afford it.  Adrian has held specialised women’s self defence courses and contributed to books on female self-defence.  In 2007 Adrian won the National Golden Gavel competition with the persona of “the Taxinator”.  He is also an in-demand speaker on artificial intelligence and the future of the legal and service industry, presenting almost bi-weekly at various local, national and international seminars and conferences.  

Rebecca Sandford is a Senior Associate in the Litigation team at HWL Ebsworth Lawyers, specialising in intellectual property, defamation, media law and competition and consumer law.  She has made a continuous and outstanding contribution to the profession and to the community through her participation in a number of significant leadership roles.  Rebecca first joined the Society’s Council as a Junior Member.  She has been a Member of the Society’s Executive in 2016 and 2017 and has nominated unopposed to be a Vice-President of the Society in 2018.  Rebecca has made a strong contribution to many Society Committees, including the MCPD Regulatory Committee which operated in the early stages of the MCPD Scheme, Privacy Law Working Group and the Gender Equity Working Group.  She is an inaugural Member of the Corporate Governance Committee; and a past Chair and Deputy Chair of the Women Lawyers’ Committee, having participated in the introduction of the Women Lawyers’ Mentoring Program.  Since 2014 Rebecca has mentored a number of students including the Connect@Flinders Mentoring Program and the YWCA’s SHE Leads business leadership program.  Rebecca was a member of the Women Lawyers’ Association of South Australia and the YWCA of Adelaide’s Nomination Committee for several years.  Also since 2014, Rebecca has supported Whitelion’s annual “Bailout” event, assisting to educate participants about the impact of the justice system for underprivileged young people, in particular those of Aboriginal heritage and those affected by family violence. 

Chanel Martin is an Associate at Resolve Divorce Lawyers where she practises in family law.  Having observed the impact of litigation on separated couples and families using a holistic approach to resolve family law disputes. Chanel is collaboratively trained and aims for sensible and respectful negotiations.  She acts as a mentor to the firm’s younger practitioners.  In 2016 Chanel was a nominee for the Bulletin Article of the Year Award.  Chanel is an active volunteer and governance member of Australian Red Cross (ARC).  She commenced as a volunteer within the migrant support programs, assisting unaccompanied minors living in community detention.  Through the ARC Chanel provides governance mentorship to the Youth Climate Change Collective and has facilitated international humanitarian law seminars at High Schools.  Chanel was recently awarded the ARC’s Youth Meritorious Award which is granted to Red Cross people who have demonstrated exceptional service in the pursuit of effective youth engagement within the organisation.