Leslie Elliott

From the grim tragedy that was Sophie Elliott’s murder in Dunedin almost 11 years ago, a genuine ray of sunshine has emerged.

The work of the Sophie Elliott Foundation in making young New Zealanders aware of potential manipulation and bullying in relationships, and in raising the level of discussion around the dinner table, was outlined at the final Club Otago lunch of the year.

Foundation co-founder, Sophie’s mother Lesley, and Foundation manager Bill O’Brien gave an oversight of the progress made in lifting violence protection through education, awareness and empowerment. The Foundation’s Loves-Me-Not programme has been adopted by 126 secondary schools throughout New Zealand and the number introducing the day-long course for Year 12 students – where the often-difficult subject of relationship abuse and consent is front and centre – grows by the day.

New Zealanders in the 15 to 24-year age bracket are especially vulnerable.

In answering a number of questions about the Foundation and Loves-Me-Not programme, Lesley and Bill enlightened our members and guests to the point where they now have a greater understanding of the one of today’s more troubling issues.

One thing is clear … if the work of the Sophie Elliott Foundation was in vogue in January 2008, it is almost certain Sophie would be alive today.