Royal award a “tribute” to victim-survivors

Published 1:00pm 19 June 2024

Royal award a “tribute” to victim-survivors
Words by Jodie Powell

A Moreton Bay policewoman is one of seven Queensland Police Service officers recognised at a King’s Birthday Honours ceremony.

Sergeant Kelly Gurski, who has devoted three decades to policing – 14 as a domestic and family violence liaison officer – was awarded an Australian Police Medal for her dedication.

But she says the medal is not just for her, it’s a tribute to the people she and her colleagues work to support.

“This medal isn’t just for me, it’s in recognition of all victim-survivors of domestic and family violence and the impact of trauma, violence and abuse on your physical, mental and social wellbeing,” Kelly says.

“I humbled, I am in awe of all the victim-survivors who have shared their stories with me.

“Thank you for trusting me with your lived experiences.”

Network of support

Kelly was asked to start Queensland Police’s Petrie/Pine Rivers domestic violence office in the early 2000s, engaging with community organisations to support victim-survivors

“I didn’t know much about domestic violence in those days and I linked in with local domestic violence services and spoke to lots of people and quickly realised we also needed to be talking to other services like Child Safety and the Department of Housing.

“All those agencies were talking to the same people we were.”

Kelly worked with those agencies as they adopted the Duluth Model, a co-ordinated response that drew on the experiences of a small community in the US of dealing with domestic and family violence.

“Those service providers were then reaching out and providing support to families or persons affected,” she explains.

Dedicated cause

Royal award a “tribute” to victim-survivors

Kelly was joined by another police officer in 2012 and, with both working part-time, they regularly fundraised to support people transitioning from refuges to their own homes.

“We heard about RizeUp and how they made houses into homes and I reached out to the CEO – they were quite small then and as RizeUp grew, I grew with them.”

Since then Kelly’s been an ardent supporter of the charity, fundraising, advocating and giving her time as a guest speaker to raise awareness of RizeUp’s work, with her fundraising efforts tallying more than $100,000 so far.

The organisation helps people escaping domestic violence by setting up a new home before they move in – each setup costs about $5000.

“What RizeUp does, apart from practical support, is it lets people know they’re worthwhile and their community cares.

“If you’ve been constantly told you’re useless, then being told you’re worthwhile really means something.”

Adventure for charity

Royal award a “tribute” to victim-survivors

This month Kelly joined a team of 12 cast members in Canberra to film the latest episode of reality TV show Adventure All Stars, which will air next year.

It’s reality TV with a difference – each cast member must raise at least $10,000 for a charity of their choice to earn a place on the team. In Kelly’s case, RizeUp was the beneficiary.

Once they’ve booked their berth, their time on Adventure All Stars, is not about tortuous challenges or back-stabbing teammates – it’s all about the thrill of experiencing adventures together.

The Canberra episode is Kelly’s third time on the program – she filmed a Fraser Coast version in February 2023 and was invited to appear in Adventure All Stars Legends, which was filmed in Vanuatu later in the year.

Kelly took five other RizeUp supporters along for the ride this month, including her 23-year-old son.

Together the RizeUp team had raised about $75,000 and she says while she’d never have equated Canberra with adventure, she had a blast.

“I didn’t know Canberra was fun,” she laughs, “but it was wonderful.

“I didn’t know snow-sledding would be fun either but we had the absolute time of our lives.”

Looking to the future

So what’s next for Kelly?

“I’m fundraising all the time, so I’ll have a little break and then I will come back and regroup…maybe with a talent quest of some kind.

“I hope my Australian Police Medal can help me do more good and make more of a difference for my community.”


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