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Meet the Family Works Resolution Service team

Julia Hennessy, General Manager Family Works Central

Julia has been a senior leader in the social services sector for over 20 years. She has been working in children and family services, in both government and non- government roles, throughout her career. Julia qualified as a social worker and has moved from being a practitioner to a senior manager in both the UK and NZ. Julia has managed numerous projects, from design through to implementation, and ensured quality was a core component in every project. Julia sits on several local and international Boards within her scope of practice. These Boards are all promoting quality practice and supporting mechanisms for community engagement and empowerment.

Cheri Ratapu – Foster, Business Development Manager (No Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou, Ngai Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga ki Wharekauri me Tapuika)

Cheri has worked in the public service and not for profit sectors for over 30 years. Cheri has a long and accomplished history of working in communities supporting whānau/iwi in developing their goals and aspirations. Cheri is a member of the Family Works Senior Management Team, using her business skills and Māori world views to influence and design our service delivery models. Cheri leads the Māori caucus group, He Korowai Ratonga Māori Ratonga Whānau, and represents Family Works Central on the national Presbyterian Support New Zealand Te Roopu Pa Harakeke Cultural Advisors group.

Nici Nixon, Family Works Resolution Service Manager

Nici has been a social worker for more than 25 years, with a particular focus on children and families. For the last 20 years, she has held supervisory and management roles in both government and NGOs. Nici is passionate about family support and child safety, and in many of her roles has been involved in care and protection services, supporting on issues of risk, child protection concerns and complex family dynamics. She is also an accredited family resolution mediator and has combined her experience of social work with vulnerable children and families to ensure delivery of Family Resolution Service is safe and responsive. She can also advise and guide in respect of our children’s voice approach.

Nonie Donovan, Family Works Resolution Service Coordinator

Nonie has worked for Family Works Resolution Service since May 2015. Nonie enjoys working as part of the Family Resolution Service team as she thinks it’s a vital and important service. She believes that when people fully engage with the process, a resolution can typically be achieved in a more timely and civil manner.

Fiona Drinnan, Family Works Resolution Service Coordinator

Fiona has worked for Family Works for the past year as a Family Resolution Service and Out of Gate coordinator. The Family Resolution Service is something Fiona really believes in, as it engages clients of all ages, especially children, and offers them skills they can use for conflict resolution to use throughout their lives.

Megan Wilson, Family Works Resolution Mediator

Megan is a mediator accredited to do Family Dispute Resolution. As a registered nurse with over 20 years’ experience, Megan has extensive knowledge around child development and complex case management enabling her to engage and work with families during stressful situations. During this time she has worked in marae based clinics in New Zealand, with remote Indigenous communities In Australia and with refugees. She has been involved in various policy and steering groups at national and local levels both here and in Australia. Megan is also qualified to provide professional supervision.

Phillippa Elliott, Family Works Resolution Mediator

Phillippa Elliott is a Resolution Institute (LEADR) mediator, alternative dispute resolution mediator and ADR conflict and communication coach. She has owned an operated her own consultancy for 25 years and has worked nationally and internationally in training design and delivery.

Dr Robert Shaw, counsellor & Family Works Resolution mediator in Taranaki

Robert has a strong interest in achieving outcomes that are in the best interests of children. He is an executive member of the Institute of Educational and Developmental Psychology and a professional member of the New Zealand Psychological Society. He is an associate of the Arbitration and Mediation Institute of New Zealand who accredited him to provide mediation for families. He provides individual and family counselling, and works with adolescents. Previously, he was a secondary school teacher in South Auckland and has worked in universities in New Zealand and overseas.

Sue Hurst, Family Works Resolution Mediator

Sue Hurst is a Resolution Institute (LEADR) mediator, and has completed a graduate diploma in Business Studies, dispute resolution and was awarded the FairWay Resolution Prize in Mediation. Sue facilitates our Parenting through Separation Courses and her previous experience as an early childhood teacher and centre manager has given her an in-depth understanding of family dynamics and child development.


Sue Adams, Family Works Resolution Mediator

Sue is a qualified and experienced counsellor who started private practice in 1992, having worked in many different government organisations and medical health centres since 1980. She has worked in the area of Family Court counselling and communication and conflict for 25 years. Sue is a member of New Zealand Counsellors and New Zealand Christian Counsellors. She is an experienced Resolution Institute (LEADR) mediator since 2010. She is also an experienced professional Family Dispute Resolution mediator, having completed training in 2014 and has completed many successful Family Dispute referrals. Sue is also qualified in child mental health and is able to act as a child inclusive specialist in mediation cases when requested.

Kate Walkinshaw, Family Works Resolution Mediator

Kate is a Resolution Institute (LEADR) mediator since October 2014 and a social worker with Family Works in Christchurch. She provides parenting support in the home, works with children in the school and home environment and advocates for families/whanau and children. Kate facilitates parenting programmes such as the Incredible Years Parenting programme and the Ministry of Justice Parenting Through Separation course. She also offers pre-mediation coaching and is a child voice practitioner.

Shona Hickey, Family Works Resolution Mediator

Shona has had a long term goal to work in the field of Family Dispute Resolution. She has a particular interest in ensuring tamariki/children have a voice and have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to finding workable solutions to issues that impact on the whole whanau/family.

Nigel Dunlop, Family Works Resolution Mediator

Nigel has been practising family law for over 30 years. He first trained in mediation 25 years ago and has since conducted over 3,500 hours of mediation in New Zealand. He has a high settlement rate for the 2,000+ mediation cases he has handled. Over his career he has represented hundreds of children in the Family Court and has published numerous articles about family dispute resolution.

Jackie Fitzsimmons, Family Works Resolution Mediator

Jackie is a NZAC and Resolution Institute (LEADR) mediator. She has been working in the industry for over 27 years as a family court counsellor, family disputes resolution mediator, preparation for mediation contractor and family therapist. She has a background in providing trauma informed therapy, group facilitation for stopping violence programmes and survivor groups, family court counselling and family therapy.

Helen Goatley, Family Works Resolution Mediator

Helen is a registered mediator and has been working as a social worker for the past 13 years working mostly with children and families. She is currently the Team Leader for a variety of family support services with Family Works, Presbyterian Support Southland.  Helen has been a Family Resolution Services mediator since December 2014 and enjoys assisting people to find their own solutions and the best way forward for their families.

Julie Forman, Family Works Resolution Mediator

Julie is a LEADR accredited mediator. She specialises in pre-mediation coaching and is a child’s voice practitioner.  Julie is an advocate for children, families and whanau, and provides family therapy, trauma counselling and counselling for individuals and couples.  For the past five years she has been involved in facilitating parenting programmes, such as Tuning into Kids and the Ministry of Justice Parenting Through Separation course.

We’re local and we’re here to help. Contact Family Works to register for Family Works Resolution Service (FWRS) or a Parenting through Separation course near you.