Ms Kirsty Dempster-Rivett

Kirsty Dempster-Rivett

Teaching Fellow

Qualifications: MSocSci, PGDipClinPsych

About Kirsty

Since graduating from the University of Waikato, I have accumulated a diverse range of experience as a Clinical Psychologist. This has involved multiple roles within government agencies such as The Department of Corrections, Waikato District Health Board, as well as community based practice especially in collaboration with Waikato schools and Non-Government Organisations. Specifically, my career has focused on working with young people who have experienced significant childhood maltreatment that go on to offend. A significant proportion of my work has been with children and young people in care with a specific focus on suicide and self-harming prevention and postvention.

It has been my experience that the community is very interested in what university based research can offer them in terms of developing best practice models. This in turn has become one of my main motivators for doing my PhD and to continue teaching the next generations of Psychologists. I am currently completing doctoral research entitled: Exploring the mechanisms linking child maltreatment and the perpetration of family harm. My current focus is on disseminating this research highlighting the practical implications for psychologists working in Aotearoa New Zealand. Consequently, I have been invited to work alongside governmental and community agencies to employ trauma-informed practices to help interrupt the inter-generational transmission of trauma and violence.

I am currently the chair elect for the New Zealand Psychological  Society's Institute of  Clinical Psychology with a special interest in advancing mental health care in Aotearoa New Zealand. In addition I provide training and support to Lawyers and Judges practising in Australasia on providing services that encompass trauma and mental health informed practices.

Papers Taught

Research Interests

Nationally and internationally research has identified a high prevalence of exposure to childhood traumatic events in offending populations.  Subsequently, researchers have hypothesised that a history of child abuse and neglect are risk factors that predict a higher likelihood of contact with justice systems. More recently there has been an increasing push from the ground floor up to move towards the inclusion of trauma informed care in the rehabilitation of offenders.  Thus,  the first part of my PhD research focused  a review of existing theoretical rationales that help explain the potential pathways for this phenomena.  The second phase is exploring the links identified by my participants with a particular lens related to culture and gender.


Dempster-Rivett, K. (2020). The Need for Implementing Trauma-Informed Practices within legal ServicesLegalwise, March.

Dempster-Rivett, K. (2018). Development and implementation of trauma-informed training for women's corrections facilities in Aotearoa New Zealand. Practice: The New Zealand Corrections Journal, 6(2), 43-46.


Provided two-hour workshop to Prosecutors as part of Meredith Connell: The Law Firm entitled: Developing a Trauma-Informed Practice ( March 2020);

  • Provided one hour webinar for Legalwise a company that provides Professional Development for Lawyers practising in New Zealand and Australia entitled: The need for implementing trauma-informed practices within legal services.

· Ongoing provision of workshop for Waikato Bay of Plenty Branch of Grandparents raising Grandchildren: Strategies for supporting their grandchildren/mokopuna with significant trauma histories.


Children; Law; Psychology; Social Science Research; Youth