IHC Family-Whānau Liaisons

The IHC Family-Whānau Liaison programme runs in Northland, Christchurch and Auckland Central.


Objectives of IHC the Family-Whānau Liaison programme

  • Provide knowledge, experience, and direction to families about the range of services and supports available in their community
  • Support families to access these services and resources
  • Enable social inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities and their families
  • Maintain a strong community presence

What are our responsibilities in the community?

  • Establish and maintain connections with families; especially those who have a young family member with intellectual disability
  • Ascertain and maintain links with community organisations to keep abreast of any initiatives that support people with intellectual disability
  • Identify and keep up-to-date on issues relative to intellectual disability and supporting families
  • To build relationships with government agencies
  • To liaise with key teaching staff at local high schools to inform parents of options past high school


Examples of key connections

  • Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC)
  • Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ)
  • Enabling Good Lives (EGL)
  • Educational facilities, especially high schools
  • IHC Associations
  • People First NZ
  • Regional organisations (e.g. CCS, CAB, Spectrum Care, etc.)
  • Parent to Parent
  • WEKA (equipment)
  • Community Connectors
  • Personal Advocacy Trust (PAT)



Family-Whānau Liaisons

What is our focus in the community?

  • Communicating with families to support a person with intellectual disability
  • Connecting families with organisations/supports
  • Maintaining a strong community connection
  • Point of contact for families to help them navigate the system to access services for their family member
  • Source of knowledge of what people are needing and report on this
  • Some minor advocacy or refer to IHC Advocacy

Jim Callaghan

Jim has more than 20 years’ experience working in communities to promote healthy lifestyles, including developing health related policies and materials.

Over this time Jim has advocated at both local and central government levels around health issues, and worked collaboratively in partnership with all three local Northland councils as well as the local DHB.

Jim’s strength is creating supportive environments and working with service providers to achieve desired outcomes.

Jim is based in Whangārei.


Email: Jim.Callaghan@ihc.org.nz

Suzanne Downes

With more than 30 years' experience in the education sector, primarily supporting learners with intellectual disability, Suzanne is always inspired by the idea that people supporting people is a powerful platform for creating change on both a small and grand scale.

Suzanne joined IHC in October 2015, holding previous roles within the organisation before taking on the role of Family Whānau Liaison.

Suzanne is based in Levin.


Email: Suzanne.Downes@ihc.org.nz




Sheridan Myall

Sheridan has worked for more than 25 years supporting people with intellectual disabilities to have a voice in their community and to tell their stories, with a particular focus on supporting people to develop strategies for reaching their goals.

Sheridan brings a diverse range of skills to the Family Whānau Liaison role including experience teaching sign-language, and has worked in partnership with numerous community organisations to provide people with the support they need to succeed.

Sheridan is based in Christchurch.


Email: Sheridan.Myall@ihc.org.nz

Anna Wong

Anna has worked in the education sector for eight years, supporting children with intellectual disability and autism. She joined IHC in 2017 as a volunteer coordinator, where she recruited and supported volunteers in their friendship with people with intellectual disabilities. During this time, she established numerous community contacts within the sector, and furthered her passion for helping others.

Anna is joining the Family Whānau Liaison team to continue supporting people with intellectual disability and their families by connecting them with information and local services.

Anna is based in Auckland.


Email: Anna.Wong@ihc.org.nz


Or contact one of our Family-Whānau Liaisons by calling 0800 442 311.