Timaru woman Kay Sim often gets asked why she is as at work so early, to which she replies, "I have a great job."
A former probation officer, Sim has settled into her new role as a victim adviser for Court Services for Victims, a free and confidential service under the umbrella of the Ministry of Justice.
Sims' role, based at Timaru courthouse, is to help victims understand their rights under the Victims Rights Act, provide information about their case and help victims take part in the court process.
The service is available from the defendant's first day in court until sentencing and through any appeals. "The courthouse is not all about the offender and it's important people know that."
Sim, who works part-time, said it was imperative that victims had a voice. She feels privileged to be working with victims.
"Meeting people and getting the opportunity to help support them through a difficult time is really so special.
"To be able to sit and listen to their stories is a privilege ... when they say ‘thanks for your help' it makes it all worth while."
Sim is no stranger to working within the justice system - she started more than 23 years ago as a probation officer in Timaru.
"It was an interesting job, especially working out of the old courthouse when the only way in for both offenders and victims was a small corridor. Sometimes it was quite intimidating - especially when Timaru had four gangs."
The change to working with victims instead of offenders has not been difficult for Sim as she said both jobs involved providing a service to the community.
"There's a lot of the same components in each job and I've been able to carry many of the same tools over."
Her experience has impressed her boss, Kylie Ehrich, who said "Kay is an absolute professional."
"It's all about providing victims a professional gold-plated service and Kay offers all of those things."
Servicing both Timaru and Ashburton courts, Sim said the biggest attribute a victims adviser needed to have was a great deal of empathy. Although most victims were referred by the police, people were welcome to self-refer, she said.
According to Sim and Ehrich, a positive change is on the cards for victim services with the amendments to the Victims of Crime Reform Bill.
- The Timaru Herald