William (Bill) O’Brien, trustee and manager of the Sophie Elliott Foundation was awarded the NZ Order of Merit over the Queens Birthday Weekend for services to victim support and the prevention of domestic violence.
Bill is responsible for the trust’s day-to-day operations, including its work to help young people foster healthy relationships through its Loves-Me-Not programmes in schools. The Loves-Me-Not programme has reached over 10,000 students in 105 secondary schools so far, and is being rolled out to new schools every year.
All the Trustees of the Sophie Elliott Foundation are proud of Bill and the recognition for his tireless efforts in advocating for victims as well as driving education of healthy relationships for our young people.
In an article published in the Otago Daily Times over Queens Birthday Weekend noted the following:
A tireless advocate for victims who has been appointed Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit said the honour re-reinforced the importance of family violence prevention.
For several decades, Mosgiel man William (Bill) O’Brien (72) has made significant contributions to programmes aimed at preventing violence and supporting victims’ rights.
Mr O’Brien, who had a 35-year career in the New Zealand Police, has been manager and a trustee of the Sophie Elliott Foundation for six years.
The foundation was established after the murder of Ms Elliott by her ex-boyfriend, to shift New Zealand’s attitude towards violence in relationships and facilitate violence-prevention education.
“It’s a hell of a good retirement job. I’ve had more satisfaction working for the foundation than I ever had in all the years I worked for wages,” he said.
Together with Ms Elliott’s mother, Lesley Elliott, he co-authored the book Loves Me Not: How to Keep Relationships Safe. He also helped Mrs Elliott write her book Sophie’s Legacy.
All royalties from both books went to the Foundation. He was also a key driver of the “Keeping Ourselves Safe” programme, which has been run in primary schools for 30 years.