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Issue No. 412 April 2017

Keep moving forward

by Louise Nicholas ONZM

Louise Nicholas counts being Patron of Recruit Wing 290 as among her proudest moments.

On 31 January 2004 I told my story of rape and abuse by members of New Zealand Police.

The story was accompanied by a call I had made through the Dominion Post for a proper independent inquiry into a bad culture that I knew festered within Police.

I asked the Prime Minister, at the time Helen Clark, to set up a Commission of Inquiry ‘to ensure that as a victim of police abuses I can finally be treated fairly and decently’.

I was unable to tell my story to the Commission, as Police set about investigating my allegations. This I opposed as I knew results from an investigation would be swept under the carpet - in my mind that’s how the police rolled. But, whether I liked it or not, Operation Austin was formed.

The significance of Operation Austin for me was that, not only did they stick to their promise of ‘a full and thorough investigation’, they helped me finally realise that it wasn’t New Zealand Police that hurt me - it was individuals within the organisation that used their power and control to harm not only me but many others.

Over these last 10 years, the timeframe for the Commission of Inquiry, I can honestly say the culture within Police has not only taken major steps forward in turning the ‘bad’ culture around, but the passion and commitment by many police persons has had a resounding effect on those I support, New Zealand’s Survivors of Sexual Violence and their families.

A Ten One front page in April 2007 made Police’s intent clear.

The call for change went out loud and clear and the response has been nothing short of amazing, with obvious changes in attitude and responses to survivors.

It has been an honour and privilege to work alongside members of Police on different levels – from helping with the Information for Victims of Sexual Assault booklet to ASA Investigation training to one of my proudest moments, being Patron for Wing 290 – the ‘bestest’ Wing to ever come out of the RNZPC.

Most important has been standing alongside and supporting police who show true empathy and professionalism for Survivors of Sexual Violence. I congratulate New Zealand Police on how far you have all come in the last 10 years.

You have a right to be proud of what you have achieved, but - and yes, there’s going to be a ‘but’ - all I ask, all that every person in NZ asks, is please don’t take your foot off the accelerator.

Keep moving forward, keep challenging yourselves to be the best you can.

Sometimes you must look back in order to remember why you are moving forward; never let the past define who we are and why we do what we do.

Tu roroa - Stand Tall
Tu kaha - Stand Strong
Tu whakakake - Stand Proud.

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