14 Feb Noah’s journey from volunteer support worker to NZ Police officer
At 20, Noah Davies was one of Victim Support’s youngest support workers. Now he’s using the experience he’s gained as an officer with New Zealand Police.
“I was looking for something that was a bit of a challenge,” recalls Noah, although at the time he already had an eye on a career with the police. “Victim Support being about victims, that’s police’s business as well, so I thought the experience I could get from Victim Support would work really well with a career with police.”
While Noah comes across with a level self-assuredness that belies his age, the former Wellington Support Worker admits he found his initial Victim Support case work “pretty daunting.” His very first call-out was to a family dealing with a bereavement.
“We walked up to this house shaking like little kids thinking, what are we doing? But the specialised support worker training kicked in and it all turned out for the best.”
Noah went on to become an integral part of the Wellington team working on an incredible range of cases including helping serious crime victims cope with often traumatising court proceedings, supporting victims of family violence and family members who had tragically lost someone in suicide or a fatal car accident.
Following the March 15 Christchurch mosque shootings, he was one of a number of Victim support workers from around New Zealand who flew to Christchurch to be part of the organisation’s initial response. This was to prove to be his biggest challenge in his role as a support worker.
“Out of everything I’ve dealt with at Victim Support that was one of the hardest things, but it was also one of the most rewarding things. It was pretty complex just because a lot of the victims aren’t from New Zealand and there’s that language barrier.”
His training and previous experience could never have prepared him for his first nine-day stint in Christchurch.
“It was very, very full on. I remember the first few days this really kind of weird adrenalin. You just keep going and going, you start at 7am and then you get make it back at 10pm and you would wake up and it turns into a big bubble.”
“At one point I had to go to a house and look at immigration papers and decide whether we were going to pay for someone’s ticket for family members to come over. Stuff we weren’t trained for, but, making those kind of judgement calls.”
Noah returned to Christchurch for a further week before starting his training at Royal New Zealand Police College. He’s positive his time with Victim Support will be tremendously beneficial for his career as a police officer.
“I was dealing with a young kid in a family harm situation and my sergeant who was assessing me during my training at college was just really impressed with the amount of empathy I was able to give the child. We have legislation as a police officer that we have to work with, but it’s just on that personal level and really listening and understanding.”
“Being OK with the silence. A lot of recruits try and fill that space with words when victims aren’t talking. At Victim Support we’ve really learnt that if victims aren’t talking it’s OK just to sit with them. Dealing with victims the amount of experience I’ve got through Victim Support, I know exactly what I’m going into when I’m dealing with victims in my role as a police officer. It’s very, very helpful.”
Now part of the Police Safety team in Counties Manukau, Noah is very much aware that this will mean something of a role reversal as he will be the one now referring cases to Victim Support.
“For me as a Victim Support Worker I wanted to do the best for victims, but I know logistically for me as a police officer I won’t always be able to provide that really intensive support that victims need, and Victim Support can do. It’s a really comforting thing to know as a police officer that Victim Support is there for my victim.”