The BRAVE Foundation has had an evolution through time. The heart of our foundation started out as an idea way back in 2001 when two young female police officers, Senior Constable Sue Guy and Sergeant Su Robinson, saw a real need for young wāhine that had suffered sexual assault to have support.
After the initial police involvement, victims were often left to fend for themselves, with little or no support to manage symptoms of PTSD, feelings of isolation, fear, lack of understanding from others, and sadly, bullying from their peers.
Off their own bat, these two marvellous women petitioned for police funding to run the initiative called Wāhine Toa – a retreat that offered a 4-day programme they ran yearly for young wāhine to help them manage life after sexual assault, and give them hope for the future.
It was a struggle at times as they became aware that they needed help from youth health professionals to really make its impacts lasting and the programme safe. From 2016 onwards, Karen Hart (counsellor), Vanessa Gillespie (social worker) and Stacey Tito (youth worker) became involved and offered their much-needed skills.
Sue Guy passed the baton, with love and confidence, to this trio in 2020 with the sad and unfortunate news that the police funding was on pause. It was with great delight that The BRAVE Foundation was officially Incorporated as a charity in 2022, with the blessing of Sue Guy.
Since then, the foundation has offered three 5-day retreats yearly, with follow-up opportunities monthly through workshops and activities. Times have been tough through the journey of BRAVE as Karen, Vanessa and Stacey have funded everything themselves. With amazing support of some key sponsors and opportunities to collaborate with people who believe in our work, they have been able to meet some of the needs in our community to address the harm caused to young wāhine from the impacts of sexual assault.
The BRAVE Foundation has been working really hard to put its philosophy, successes, and opportunities for support into this website so they are able to get the word out there about what they do, and why they do it – in the hopes that the people out there believe in us enough to offer funding.
The priorities of the foundation are to continue to empower young wāhine and break the destructive cycles that sexual harm causes, and this means funding is essential. Other priorities for the foundation include finding a home for BRAVE and to pay the salary of at least one of our team so that she can concentrate solely on growing the foundation, ensuring that we can continue to offer this very valuable service to our community. And who knows – our dreams may prosper to provide support nationwide.
We believe in our future, as we believe that survivors of sexual harm can heal.