Advocate Profile: Gillian

The advocacy service has become more focused on its core business over the years, but the skills of advocates are more relevant than ever, says long-term advocate Gillian Adams, Dunedin. “You have to balance the concerns of the complainant with the reality-check of the situation. I enjoy helping people see things from other perspectives.

It’s never linear, you have to clarify the complainant’s concern and do some straight-talking, and it can be difficult to assign the impact of a situation. It’s endlessly fascinating.” Gillian has been an advocate for 19 years and says, compared to when she began, there is now a clearer understanding of the function of the Trust and the role of advocates. She’s noticed some of the benefits of the COVID-19 lockdown in some parts of the community. Corrections facilities reported a feeling of security and safety, and there were no complaints about restricted access for visiting family.

In her own education outreach, an unexpected outcome was the benefit of using video conferences, particularly among medical students. “The students were far more engaged, participating more and the usual group dynamic changed. I noticed a huge difference, there was so much more participation. They were more confident calling in from their own homes and able to text in questions. I’ll be suggesting we use video conferencing more in the future.