Moana Parsons

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[00:00:00] This recording was made at the second the Asia Pacific Outgames human rights conference held in Wellington, New Zealand in March 2011. [00:00:09] My name is Monique Parsons, and I joined the place at the age of 23. Because that was my childhood ambition to join the place. I can't remember when I first decided I was going to be a police officer, but it was just always there. And I guess, because that's what I wanted. I made it happen. Yeah. So I was a university student underneath and at the time, and I was just finishing off my degree. And I had started the application process. And I went for my first interview with the recruitment officer, Dan and Janine at the time. And this was back in 1998. So 12 years ago, and we sit down to have our interview, and the interview was proceeding, okay. And then after a few minutes, he said to me, that he just wanted to check that I was joining the place for the right reasons. Because women had a habit of joining the police in in within two years getting pregnant and then leaving. And I was quite gobsmacked that he'd even suggested it to me, and I, you know, hadn't even occurred to me that I might get pregnant or that that might be an issue. And I didn't really have a reply from there, other than assuring him that I had no intentions of getting pregnant anytime in the near future. And so then the interview progressed on from there. And within a couple of minutes, he looked down at his paper, and said to me, I see that you've listed your partner is female. And again, it hadn't can, you know, I hadn't crossed my mind to be anything. But when I went into the interview process, because I was out in my own life in it University. And, you know, it hadn't hadn't been a problem. And it hadn't occurred to me that there might be an issue within the organization. And he said, again, I need to just check the the, you know, the you're joining the organization for the right reasons. And I looked at him sort of quizzically and and he said, you know, because some people have a habit of, you know, they joined to push their own bandwagon. And, you know, again, I didn't have a response with it, other than assuring him that I had joined because I wanted to be a police officer, I had wanted to be a police officer, since before I even knew that I was a lesbian. And that's why I was joining because I wanted to be part of the organization, and nothing to do with my own sexual preference or identities here. [00:02:35] And with the training, did you find there was any discrimination? Or did you feel there were situations where it was different, because, you [00:02:42] know, when I got to the place college, they were it in my wing, they were 14 women and four of us were at lesbians. So I was in good company. And I felt really supported throughout that process. Whether that's been the same experience for everyone, I don't know. But I certainly knew came up against any discrimination because of my sexual orientation. [00:03:04] What about in terms of women in the police force? And I'm just wondering, how the genders writers, and how does that relate to sexuality as well? [00:03:12] Yeah, it's an interesting and topical question. There's been a lot, you know, there was a report put out recently sort of talking about women and the police and how the organization perhaps isn't advances as quickly as it could have. And the the police as a male dominated occupation, and women are the minority. When I joined the police, when I first started working on the street, I was the only female on my section. And it was three years before I got to work with another woman. And, and I think we can't help but be differences because of the imbalance between men and numb and physical numbers between men and women. The whole sort of structure and thought processes that go on day to day work is dominated by male thoughts, and in mile directions, and the full, you know, I think it is harder for women to be able to sort of stand up and in to do the job, they do the job they want to do in the way that they want to do it, which is often quite different from the way that mean, do things because men and women are inherently different creatures. So, yeah, I think there's still a long way to go. But there has been a lot of changes. For example, now on section on on a female surgeon, I have seven constables on group and two of those are female. So on a group of seven, there are three women. So that's, that's come a long way from, from my early days, when I was the only woman. [00:04:40] What about in relation to gay men being in the police force, other openly gay officers, [00:04:47] openly gay officers, and sadly, not as many openly gay male officers is openly gay women, officers, and I feel that it's easier to be a gay woman in the organization that has to be gay men. And again, I think it's because as it as a male dominated organization, and traditionally, it's been seen as a heterosexual male occupation, you know, for all the legal reasons. But obviously, since the the changes since the human, the changes of the human rights, I mean, minutes around law, employment law, so you know, you can't be saved for being a gay male anymore. The opportunities easier for me now than they would have been, but there's still a long way to go. And it is easier for women than me. And I think because what, you know, lesbians aren't seen as a threat to, to masculinity, and to the men within the organization, and we're accepted as one of the boys far more easily. And we're as gay men are still and you know, and I guess it's an inherent homophobia that goes across our society, not just with on the place organization, you know, gay males often seen as a threat to masculinity, and therefore, it is harder for them to come out and to be openly gay, it would, do you [00:06:10] have any examples of homophobia in the place? [00:06:13] That I think there is still a lot of homophobic banter. That is as again, sadly part of our culture as a whole, that it's so gay, the frequent use of the, you know, derogatory, homophobic comments, forget, etc. And I do hear those in the workplace. And, you know, as a gay female, and as a yellow make it my job to challenge those. It's time place and circumstances, though, and I'm only one person. Yeah, that would probably be the most common form of homophobia would just be that, that they use the use of homophobic language and every day, the year in the workplace, I'd like to say that it doesn't happen out there on the street, that we're professional when they're out there, and that people meet the guard down perhaps when they're back at the office. But yeah, but as far as actual, but actual discrimination is such, I can't think of anything off the top of my head that I personally have witnessed. But then I've only been here for 12 years, and perhaps some of the members that have been around longer, would be able to come up with some some really interesting stories. [00:07:27] I'm wondering about, are there any instances in the work that you do that kind of jar against kind of gay and lesbian culture, I mean, I'm thinking of, for instance, like, say, pride parades, where there might be a bit more flesh exposed, or the gay beats for public six and stuff. Are there instances where the whole idea of being queer and being the police kind of job against each other? [00:07:54] Yeah, and I think the gay beats is probably a really good example of it, because we're the hero for it doesn't exist anymore. Unfortunately. And I don't think we've had a parade for a long time and Wellington, but Bates are certainly still alive and well, and part of our community throughout the, you know, we can put it through. So throughout the Wellington district, there's a lot of beats that are frequented, and I'm sure there are probably staff members that frequent those beats in from time to time, we still get called jobs, at the beats, you know, popular public toilets that are that are part of the sort of beats of it, if you like, and, I guess, educating in talking to my colleagues about how to handle those situations as part of what I do, and part of the process of, of making at least have an issue in in making that whole process smoother. So it can be handled correctly, and not dealt with an immediate reaction that could have sort of long lasting damaging repercussions for the people that are involved. [00:08:57] When you say dealt with correctly, what does that mean? [00:09:00] Well, I think these historically, these, [00:09:04] you know, it hasn't been dealt with particularly well in in back in the 70s. And 80s. There were certainly the beats were targeted by the police, and there were cases of entrapment. And they were, you know, upstanding members of society who frequented debates who whose lives were destroyed by the way that the place reactions. And I would like to say that we're all a bit more enlightened these days, in part of the deal, our role is to is to reinforce those messages, that there's a right and wrong way for dealing with people who are frequenting Bateson. And certainly, if the behavior is overtly offensive, then it can be dealt with because it's overtly offensive, and not simply because it's a beat. And that's a gay issue. Here. [00:09:45] You've mentioned a couple of times do what does that [00:09:48] sorry, deal O stands for diversity liaison officers in were a safe point of call within the organization from members of the jail BTR community, if they don't feel comfortable fronting up to the, you know, home station with a complaint, or they feel that they haven't been dealt with, as they would have liked they can contact to do and then we can help get the ball rolling from there. [00:10:10] Also, part of that role was is that education was actually in the force itself. [00:10:14] Yeah, absolutely. Some of us deliver training, I've delivered training to senior courses at the place college, the the community constables courses, the senior sergeants courses, and and it's all simply around what we used to call it inclusiveness training, but its diversity training as well and just familiarizing them with the terms, talking to them about beats those sorts of things and, and sort of common common issues that they may come across when they're dealing with the govt I community. Yeah, how much [00:10:44] how much training is given in that area? [00:10:48] It sort of depends on where you are in Wellington, we're quiet. You were lucky, we've got the police college right there. So we can hook into the training that's already happening there and, and get our message across that some of the some of the sort of the smaller centers probably don't get any exposure to training events or whatsoever. Yeah, we also have a program once a year, we'll run a training session with the frontline constables. And we'll, we'll run the same training session for five weeks to cover off all the different sections that are working in the district. And it's part of the main data training program. So that's another way of working in the [00:11:26] so this conference is the first time the police have been represented at a conference in New Zealand. [00:11:32] Now, we've been to a few of the last one that we went to it was the agenda, the annual or biannual, a gender conference that was here in Wellington a couple of years ago. And it would probably be the the the last big conference that we were at. And mostly it's a PR exercise, because a lot of people don't realize that the Delos exists. But there's also a lot of issues that we can help discuss with all the different groups, and it's a good networking opportunity to hook on with all the other agents. [00:12:01] And what do you personally get out of it? [00:12:03] job satisfaction. [00:12:06] Now, it really is, my full time job is on the front line Sergeant or we can put it on it's a pretty difficult job. And it's often very negative. And often when people meet me on on the wrist somebody or deliver bad news. In my deal, I work as a positive injection into my work. And it's a portfolio position. So it's something that I do on the side and in my spare time. And it gives me a lot of satisfaction of doing something positive for my own community. [00:12:39] Now skipping ahead 30 years if somebody was to hear this in 50 years time, what would you say to that person? [00:12:45] I hope that things have changed and that things have progressed. And I hope that the dealers are no longer needed because ultimately that's what we want to do is we want to do ourselves out of a job, because I would like to think that will reach a point sometime in the future. We're everybody's diversity liaison officer. Everybody understands the issues that are specific to the queer community. And there's no longer a need to have somebody specific there to do that liaison.

This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.