FROM left, guest speakers at the International Women’s Day lunch at Ballina, former NSW detective inspector Anne Langford and ABC journalist Sally Sara with Nadia Eliott-Burgess of the Ballina Chamber of Commerce.
FROM left, guest speakers at the International Women’s Day lunch at Ballina, former NSW detective inspector Anne Langford and ABC journalist Sally Sara with Nadia Eliott-Burgess of the Ballina Chamber of Commerce. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Policewoman pioneer tells of tough early days and success

WHEN Anne-Maree Langford became a New South Wales police officer in the late 1970s she was one of only 125 women in the force alongside 10,000 men.

At the Ballina Chamber of Commerce's International Women's Day lunch yesterday, the former Richmond Local Area Command crime manager told the 200 women there about those tough early days.

"Times have changed," she said. "But when I started, the women were thrown into police stations when there had never been women before.

"We had to ignore the standover tactics, the leering, the harassment - and that was just from our own colleagues. I thought to myself, 'What the hell am I doing?'."

But while Ms Langford was still a young constable, the deputy commissioner asked her to join a specialist unit. It was the start of an illustrious detective career.

"We worked on murders that were so difficult that they remain unsolved to this day," she said.

Ms Langford said she was often confronted by violence against women while in the line of duty.

"Once we were investigating a series of kidnappings and rapings of women," she said.

"I recall being in total terror, walking these areas in the darkness waiting for someone to attack me.

"I had support ... but it was terrifying. It makes you realise the absolute courage of women who even stepped forward to talk about violence or rape."

A sell-out crowd of 225 attended the International Women's Day breakfast at the Lennox Head Cultural and Community Centre.

The event was organised by the Lennox VIEW Club.

Special guest was federal politician Bronwyn Bishop, a sitting member of the male-dominated House of Representatives since 1994 and a senator for six years before that.



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