She is now one of head honchos in the NSW Police Force but Detective Superintendent Deborah Wallace is adamant everyday people can and do make a positive influence on their community.
The Gang Squad commander spoke at a International Women’s Day (IWD) luncheon at the Sage Hotel in Wollongong on Saturday.
Det. Insp Wallace told the hundreds of women gathered at the event organised by the VIEW clubs of Illawarra and Southern Highlands, to never underestimate their influence to be able to improve things.
Miss Wallace quoted a Canadian sociologist to make her point.
‘’Never doubt that a small group of committed, dedicated people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever does.’’
‘’I think what I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to be a megastar to change the world, you do it one step at a time,’’ Miss Wallace said.
‘’I find that the only inhibitors to us doing whatever we want is ourselves. I think sometimes we put the glass ceilings there ourselves.’’
The experienced police officer has been breaking these so-called glass ceilings throughout her decorated 34-year career to date.
Miss Wallace started her career in a male-dominated organisation and has faced challenges in her journey but has also celebrated inroads made by the women who proceeded her.
‘’I hope to leave a legacy for the women that will follow me,’’ she said.
’’When I joined it probably would have been unheard of for a women...but here I am today working at a place called State Crime Command, where over 1100 detectives are based focusing on serious and organised crime.
‘’In my journey I’ve been the Commander of the Asian Organised Crime Squad, the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad and now the Commander of the Gangs Squad.’’
Miss Wallace also shared her story and admiration for Grace Lynch, the mother of murdered Sydney nurse Anita Cobby.
A week after Cobby went missing on February 2, 1986, Miss Wallace dressed in clothes similar to those warn by Cobby in a re-enactment police hoped would lead them to the killer.
‘’I continued on the investigation team and developed a strong bond with Grace after the death for a whole range of reasons. The family turned the tragedy into something really positive.’’