Linda Gyorki - Winner of the 2017 Community Lawyer of the Year Award

IMCL is thrilled to announce that IMCL lawyer Linda Gyorki - Manager (Health Justice Partnerships) and Senior Lawyer - was recently named Community Lawyer of the Year 2017 at the Victorian Legal Awards!

This award recognises Linda’s pioneering Health Justice Partnership (HJP) work and deep commitment to redefining the way legal services are delivered to those most in need.

Linda is a familiar face around a number of metropolitan hospitals in Melbourne and as comfortable in her offices there as she is at IMCL’s HQ in North Melbourne.

This may make you pause for thought: lawyers don’t work in hospitals, right?

This isn’t the case at the Royal Melbourne, The Children’s and the Royal Women’s hospitals. There, IMCL delivers free legal services on-site to disadvantaged patients. At those sites Linda has overseen the provision of legal help to hundreds of patients and trained hundreds of health care professionals.

And, if Linda achieves her vision, legal services embedded within hospitals will be the norm. In accepting her award, Linda expressed her hope that “in the future lawyers will be considered a core part of the care team in every public hospital”.

Anybody who’s witnessed Linda’s enthusiasm and dedication over the last 5 years will know she’s determined to make this happen. She is firm in her conviction and backed by a strong body of evidence affirming the value of this integrated approach.

It is known that many people first turn to health and welfare professionals with their legal problems, often because they don’t know that their problems are legal or where to go to get help. Adding a lawyer to the healthcare team means that healthcare professionals are better equipped to identify legal problems and have someone nearby who can solve them. And because legal problems can significantly impact health and wellbeing, this means that patients also get better, more holistic healthcare.

In Linda’s view, community legal centres are well placed to deliver this type of integrated legal service because of their flexible, low cost structure and expertise in community law. But, integrating a small community legal centre into a major hospital is no easy feat. To find out how to do it well, Linda spent two months travelling the world in 2014 to investigate as part of a Churchill Fellowship.

She’s used this knowledge to set-up new hospital partnerships and advise others wanting to do the same.

Determined to see this large policy shift take place and enable more people to access justice, Linda’s now also knee-deep in a Masters in Public Policy and Management at Melbourne University.

We congratulate Linda on her achievement and thank her for her tireless work, which has seen IMCL placed at the forefront of the HJP movement.

IMCL would like to thank the Victorian Legal Services Board and Freehills for their financial support, and also the Royal Women’s Hospital and Clayton Utz for Linda’s nomination.

To find out more about our ground breaking HJP work, visit our website: https://imcl.org.au/our-services/health-justice-partnerships.

For information about other HJPs, see http://healthjustice.org.au/.