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Sexual abuse prevention research wins award

September 3, 2019

Media Release

Sexual abuse prevention research wins psychological society award

University of Auckland psychologist, Dr Gwenda Willis, is this year’s recipient of the Hunter Award from the New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPsS).

Dr Willis was presented with her award at the recent NZPsS Annual Conference in Rotorua in recognition of her impressive body of research in the fields of forensic/correctional psychology and sexual abuse prevention.

The Society noted her published work and innovations in clinical practice have gained her international recognition among those working on the treatment of sexual abuse and that the International Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abuse (ATSA) made her a Fellow of the Association in 2018.

Dr Willis has conducted research into the treatment of those who have sexually abused, and her work has made an important contribution to their effective reintegration in society.

Other 2019 award recipients were: Dr Waikaremoana Waitoki (the Ballin Award); Val Bridge (Dame Marie Clay Award); Dr Matthew Hammond (Early Career Goddard Award Research and Scholarship; and Caitlin Helme (NZPsS Postgraduate Student Social Justice Research Scholarship).

Waikato University clinical psychologist, Dr Waitoki, has made significant contributions to the development of culturally safe, effective theory and practice in clinical psychology achieved through the advancement of indigenous psychologies here and overseas.

Her published research draws on tikanga and mātauranga Māori to better understand and improve Māori people’s experiences in and of psychology.

Educational psychologist, Val Bridge, has specialised in work with students with a mental disability or other complex needs. The Society believes she has been an exemplary practitioner, mentor and leader in the profession of educational psychology within Aotearoa New Zealand for more than 30 years.

Wellington Victoria University’s Dr Matthew Hammond’s research focuses on the area of relationships and sexism. His research involves sophisticated methodological and analytic tools that are employed in pushing the bounds of contemporary social science research in important areas. In making this award, the Society recognises that Dr Hammond has achieved and displayed excellence in his early career research and scholarship.

Caitlin Helme’s Doctoral research at Massey University addresses the important issue of sexual violence and access to services for people in the disability community. The particular needs of people with disabilities when attempting to access services following experiences of sexual violence are often overlooked in both research and service provision.

This research will provide an important and original contribution to the development of our understanding of sexual violence, along with access to appropriate treatments and services in New Zealand.


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