Working to address the scourge that is domestic violence has been the driving force behind the working life of Robyn Auld from Wentworth Falls.
For her literally lifesaving efforts Ms Auld has been awarded the Public Service Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for outstanding service to victims of domestic violence and to the NSW Police Force.
Ms Auld, 58, was "extremely humbled" and said she received the honour "not just for myself, but for my colleagues, mentors, elders, friends and family who have supported me since 1986 to offer my service to the community, first as an NGO (non governmental) worker and then as a public servant".
Ms Auld studied community welfare at TAFE in the mid 1980's and was "fortunate enough to be offered a job at a women's refuge in Glebe" after a student placement. She also worked as a youth worker with homeless young people in inner Sydney and said "98 per cent of them were homeless due to domestic violence".
Several other incidents motivated her to focus on domestic violence.
"I accompanied a woman to court for what was then known as a 'restraining order'. After court her husband (unbeknownst to me) followed us back to the refuge and once we were inside came to the office and pointed a shotgun through the bars in the window demanding his wife come home with him. It was at this early age I realised the extent these type of offenders would go to to retrieve their 'possessions', being their wife and children."
While at the NSW Department of Community Services (DOCS) a few years later, she helped establish their 24/7 Domestic Violence Line, working within Child Protection, including being the DOCs team leader at one of the first joint investigative teams rolled out state-wide in 1995.
"These teams had responsibility for investigating all serious physical abuse matters against children and all criminal sexual abuse matters. This is where I first worked alongside police conducting joint interviews of children."
Ms Auld joined the NSW Police Force in 2006 and up until 2008 was the only dedicated domestic violence policy officer. She has since been instrumental in shaping police policy and implementing reforms to help victims of domestic violence.
"There have been many government reforms ... the organisation was subject to a specialist parliamentary report by the NSW Ombudsman due to the poor response by police at the time to domestic violence. The organisation accepted 43 recommendations to improve police practice and I had responsibility to support the executive with the implementation of these."
One reform she implemented was helping police determine the level of threat to a victim and prioritising those at serious threat of future harm.
Ms Auld said the police response to domestic violence "has improved significantly over the last decade and it's been great to be part of an organisation that is open to change and making major reforms to police practice and cultural attitudes".
Ms Auld has worked with her team to advocate for changes to legislation over the years, including the introduction of police issued apprehended domestic violence orders and the development of community awareness campaigns, such as the No Innocent Bystander campaign.
Last year the highly respected public servant delivered the inaugural Australasian Police Domestic Violence Forum which brought together police from around the world to share information about domestic violence.
"It's not until you work alongside police that someone can fully appreciate how difficult their job is and I saw joining the organisation as an opportunity to use my skills to make a difference in the policing of domestic violence."
She said there were now more than 100 domestic violence liaison officers working across the state and many male officers were seeking to work in this area.
Ms Auld saved the biggest thanks for her "life partner, Sue Lightfoot, an inspiration to me and one who has given me her full love, support and encouragement during what has often been a very challenging career".