BAppSci (Psych), Dip Ch&AdPsych, DipPsych, DipHlth&HumBeh

New Zealand Police - Waikato District Commanders Commendation awarded for Service to Family Violence



Debbs is the very proud mother of four amazing adult children, nanny to three precious grandbabies, a partner, a daughter, a sister, a sister in law and an aunty.


Debbs was a victim of serious family violence and harm for several years and upon her navigating a pathway to a life free from violence, made the decision to dedicate her career to the family violence sector. For 20 years Debbs has unashamedly been a squeaky wheel, continuing to push for greater local and national victim survivor and sectoral awareness, while striving to support an increase in systemic and workforce capability. 


One key advantage Debbs has is that of being a survivor of trauma and harm in the context of family violence, she recognises and presents the interconnected perspective of victim survivor and practitioner in a professional, healthy and informative manner.


Through Debbs’ career, she has built a diverse skillset and developed a cross sectoral tacit knowledge. Debbs has worked in several roles, her work has included - NZ Police in a nonsworn role, Oranga Tamariki, Department of Corrections and Specialist FV response organisations in the non-government sector. These roles have included everything from team management and front facing crisis response work, to being behind the scenes developing robust systemic process and capability. 


Debbs had three years’ service to the Family Violence Death Review Panel and sat on the Child and Youth Mortality Review Group where she gained clear insight into the systemic deficiencies that have and still exist within our response systems.


Debbs understands the resistance that our victim survivors engage, the strength and mana that exists within the hearts of those trapped in the cycle of family violence. She believes in supporting these strengths to be recognised in practice and allowing clients to be self-determining. To align with this Debbs has completed the Application of Response Based Training with world renowned Canadian doctors, Allan Wade (PhD) and Cathy Richardson (PhD) in order to support this in her professional practice principles.


Debbs has a clear passion for developing professional capability around family violence systems and practice knowledge, to better support strong sustainable outcomes for whānau experiencing harm, while increasing organisational accountability.


When cross sectoral workforce capability increases and frontline workers respond to our vulnerable and marginalised whanau experiencing family violence in an informed and dignified mana enhancing manner, there will be an increase in whānau safety, and reduced levels of re-victimisation and re-perpetration of harm.


Debbs is now at a place in her life where she is choosing to stand by her story and experiences. She has written a yet unpublished book of her journey through family violence called “One Women, One Soul, One Survivor” and recently shared aspects of her personal journey in the New Zealand on Air Breaking Silence 2021 documentary series.


If you wish to learn more about Debbs journey—please click on the link below:



 Debbs experience of coercive control -

Debbs experience of pet abuse -


The whole of Breaking Silence Series Two is also available - 




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Family Violence Team Leader

By far the best training and facilitator I have ever experienced.  Debbs rawness, courage, strength and empowerment intertwined with her story, knowledge and funny and charismatic personality made me feel at ease and safe to share

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NZ Police

It takes courage and a special person to stand up and speak openly about their story.  Debbs is resilient she used her past traumas to change the future with a strong sense of purpose.  It takes just one person to speak up and change hundreds of lives and that is exactly what Debbs is doing

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