of age, background
The Family Works Central team is passionate about creating a New Zealand that is, truly, the best place in the world to raise children. Each and every one of the Family Works, and wider Presbyterian Support Central team, truly cares about children, families and communities. This is at the heart of everything we do.
Meet some of our team and learn about why we love the work we do.
Julia is the General Manager of Family Works Central. She’s been a practicing social worker and senior manager in the area of children and families for more than 20 years. During this time she has spoken to audiences and led training world-wide, as well as contributing to a number of printed resources.
An experienced leader, Julia has led projects in both the UK and New Zealand. This includes the introduction of Family Group Conference and Restorative Justice practices into mainstream service delivery in the UK. She was nominated for the UK Public Servant of the Year award for this work.
Julia is one of two New Zealand representatives on the board of Restorative Practices International (RPI), and is the current Deputy Chair of the organisation, elected in December 2015. Julia is also an elected executive member for the Wellington Community Network and an elected Board member on the Cannon’s Creek Opportunity Centre, a community centre in east Porirua.
She has previously been the Chair, and Deputy Chair of Restorative Justice Aotearoa (RJA), the national association for restorative practices in New Zealand. She resigned from the RJA Board in August 2015.
Cheri is the Business Development Manager for Family Works, based in the Wellington centre. Cheri is an approved MSD mentor and is planning to write her Master’s Thesis on the educational inequalities among gang affiliated tamariki in 2018.
Cheri has worked 30 years across the public service sector and not-for-profit sector. She has worked with gang whānau and managed a Māori teen mums parenting programme in the community. Cheri is currently co-opted as a Board member with Te Puke Karanga Hauora.
Nici has worked in Social Work for more than 20 years, with a focus on children and families. For the last 16 years she has held supervisory and management roles in both government and NGOs. She has a Master of Arts in Social Work and a Certificate of Qualification in Social Work.
Nici is passionate about family support and child safety, and in many of her roles has been involved in care and protection services. She has solid experience working with high-needs families and ensuring that quality services are delivered safely.
Nici and her family moved to New Zealand in 2011 – she has three teenage children that keep her busy. In her spare time Nici relaxes by walking the family dog and taking part in creative hobbies including painting and drawing.
Jim joined Family Works in July 2016 as manager for the Whanganui and Manawatu regions.
Having worked with the Department of Corrections for almost 30 years, Jim has a passion for prevention and helping at-risk families.
Jim has a Diploma in counselling and he has completed training in management, conflict resolutions, communications, crisis management, health and safety, children’s issues (Child Matters) and incident management.
His career has been spent largely with the Department of Corrections where he started as a prison officer in Whanganui. He became a manager at Whanganui Prison and moved around New Zealand managing various prisons before becoming a prison inspector.
In-between his roles with the Department of Corrections Jim was a community services manager with Idea Services in Tauranga and has also worked in the social services sector in Australia.
Megan has managed Family Works Taranaki since April 2004. In her role she oversees service delivery across three sites in New Plymouth, Stratford and Hawera. She has many years’ experience working as a mental health social worker. She has worked in a therapeutic community for women with substance abuse problems and she has also held a specialist role in early intervention for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team, Taranaki District Health Board.
Megan has facilitated a range of therapeutic and educational groups, including groups for women suffering depression, parents, children and for clients suffering first-time mental illness.
Megan has a background in nursing, is a registered social worker and she is a qualified cognitive behaviour therapist. She holds a number of qualifications including a Masters in Social Work (Applied) (Hons).
Robern Austin is the social worker in schools (SWiS) team leader for Family Works. Robern has been with Family Works in her role since January 2017 before this she worked as one of the social workers and FDR mediators for Family Works Upper Hutt for 2 ½ years.
Robern has 17 years experience as a social worker in a variety of roles; from working as a rape crisis worker to working with vulnerable children in the care and protection team at Child Youth and Family. Robern has a passion for supporting our most vulnerable and ensuring the delivery of safe practice.
Robern has facilitated a range of parenting programmes and youth groups and has her Diploma in Counselling and is a registered social worker.
Taiana is the Family Works Programme Manager for the Department of Correction’s Out of Gate programme and the Ministry of Justice’s Family Dispute Resolution service (FDR).
Taiana has a bi-cultural degree in Social Work and has significant experience in supporting children, families and young people in the community. She is an experienced group facilitator and fully trained professional supervisor.
In her spare time Taiana enjoys volunteer work, particularly leadership within the Girls Brigade and other church-based programmes.
Puti joined Family Works Whanganui in August 2017 in her role as Family Violence Practice Leader. Puti previously worked at Child Youth and Family Services in Palmerston North in investigation and assessment, youth justice and care, and protection social work. She has also been a social worker, Maori health worker, programme facilitator and cultural advisor in a men’s only psychiatric forensic inpatient unit. Puti has co-facilitated Te Tiriti O Waitangi training for the Whanganui District Health Board. In previous roles in Western Australia she worked with female offenders 6 months pre and up to 18 months post release from prison, and transitioned refugees into the community.
In her current role Puti co- facilitates parenting programmes, children’s safety programmes and women’s domestic violence programmes.
Puti holds a Bachelor in Social Work, as well as certificates in counselling, psychiatric forensic care and community services. She is a registered social worker and a member of the Family Violence Intervention Service.
Mary joined Family Works in 2016 as Practice Leader based in Featherston. She is part of the team who delivery social work, counselling and Restorative Justice services. Mary has worked with Wairarapa children, whānau and families for 40 years across both education and social work.
Mary is a registered social worker with particular experience working with children to ensure their voice is heard. She has worked with children in care and their foster parents, providing education and support to help carers to understand and build strategies to deal with the impacts and behaviours this can have on the children.
Mary is also an experienced professional supervisor and has delivered supervision and solution-focussed safety training to social work teams who work with families.
Shelly has been with Family Works since 2011 as a Practice Leader and Social Worker. In her role Shelly undertakes counselling, social work and advocacy, and case management. She provides internal supervision to other Family Works staff as well as auditing files and case management.
Shelly is an experienced and accredited Restorative Justice facilitator (including family violence RJ), she is also a Parenting Through Separation and Incredible Years group facilitator.
Shelly holds a Bicultural Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, as well as certificates for Biculturalism in Practice, Teacher Aide, and Child Protection Studies.
Outside of work Shelly volunteers for local organisations and schools, play softball and manages both softball and rugby teams.
Melle joined Family Works Taranaki as practice leader in early 2018. Mel is experienced in undertaking risk assessments for children and families and works in a child-centred way. She has facilitated social work and foster parent training, focussing on trauma and therapeutic foster care.
Melle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science and a Certificate in Human Sciences. She is a member of the Aotearoa New Zealand Association for Social Workers and the Social Workers Registration Board.
Kat Steeneken is the programme coordinator for Family Works Palmerston North, which provides a range of services including counselling, social work and family therapy. The Manawatu office is also a base for Family Works Out of Gate navigators and Family Dispute Resolution services.
Kat started working with Family Works in 2013 as a community navigator for the Out of Gate programme. She was finishing her Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Psychology at the time, and had her eyes set on becoming a Family Dispute Resolution mediator.
When Family Works Palmerston North opened its doors in January 2015 Kat took on the responsibility of coordinating the site. She is an accredited Family Dispute Resolution mediator and says her mission is to help parents and caregivers come to win-win agreements around the care of their children. Kat is a full member of the ANZASW and regularly trains social workers on placements from Massey University, The Open Polytechnic and Te Wananga Aotearoa.
Miia provides part time project and administrative support for Family Works services, including processing and collating evaluations of Family Works programmes, supporting Family Dispute Resolution and helping with other data aggregation and process tasks as needed.
Miia is completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and German, as well as a Bachelor in Music. She says working for Family Works has given her an insight into the work Family Works does in the community, and she finds the work both interesting and different.
Sharon is the Executive Assistant to the General Manager, Family Works Central – Julia Hennessy. She is a talented and super organised administrator with experience in both the not-for-profit and public sectors.
Sharon’s career highlights include a role with Parliament’s Visits and Ceremonial Office where she was part of a team that hosted international dignitaries including President of South Africa Nelson Mandela (1995), American President Bill Clinton (1999), and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair (2006).
Sharon lives in Wellington with her husband and two daughters.
Deidre, more commonly known as Dee, joined Family Works in October 2018 as the regional manager for Hutt Valley, Porirua and Wairarapa. Dee has more than 15 years experience in managing teams and providing facilitation for community groups in the NGO sector both here and in Australia.
A large part of her previous work included facilitating and training people to use creativity as a way to gain confidence and skills in recognising their own abilities, problem solving skills, as well as providing creative business opportunities.
Dee has completed a range of training in mediation, management, supervision, health and safety, funding, Māori concepts in wellbeing, understanding cognitive behavioural interventions, mentoring, and is currently completing a degree in sociology.