"When victims' voices are heard throughout the justice system, everyone benefits."
Dr Kim McGregor, Chief Victims Advisor
Let me introduce myself. My name is Dr Kim McGregor and I was honoured to be appointed as the inaugural Chief Victims Advisor to the New Zealand Government at the end of 2015. My appointment was part of a number of Government initiatives aimed at addressing family violence and sexual violence and improving systems and services for all people who experience crime in Aotearoa.
Prior to taking up this role, for over 30 years I worked as a therapist, researcher, trainer, and advocate focusing mostly on the needs of child and adult victims/survivors of interpersonal violence. During this time, I was privileged to listen to many hundreds of victims/survivors of crime and harm. Yet, it has not been until my appointment to this role that I have truly come to understand the degree to which victims are marginalised by our criminal justice system.
Through recent consultations, particularly for the Hāpaitia te Oranga Tangata Safe and Effective Justice Reform programme, I have heard from Māori and Tauiwi (non-Māori) victims of crime share their tears, fears and frustrations, and sometimes the further harm and re-traumatisation caused to them by the justice system. Listening to victims/survivors has left me with a huge sense of responsibility to continue to do my very best to bring victims’ experiences and voices directly to decision-makers within the system.
Since my appointment, I have sought to highlight the justice, safety, and wellbeing needs of both Māori and Tauiwi victims/survivors of crime by consulting directly with victims, victim advocates, victim-focused non-governmental organisations (NGOs), victim-focused academics, and victim experts who work within and alongside government, and across ministries and commissions.
My aims include making systems increasingly safe, victim-friendly, responsive, and flexible. Victims/survivors come from diverse backgrounds, cultures, genders, ages, and experiences and our responses need to be tailored to cater to this diversity. I am keenly aware that I am not the expert on the range of harm experienced by victims/survivors and that it is the voices of those with lived experiences who are the experts.
Having had the benefit of working most of my life within bi-cultural structures in various NGOs, my hope is that sometime in the future this office will have a Te Tiriti partner, in the form of a Chief Victim Advisor Māori, and/or, there will be a bi-cultural Victims Commission in Aotearoa that is available to hear from Māori and Tauiwi victims, represent their concerns and needs, and be a watchdog for their rights.
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