Rising to the Challenge - About us

The service development framework process is being led by the Mental Health and Addiction Strategic Planning Group (MHASPG) established in June 2013. The membership of this group is:

Frank Bristol, Consumer Expert
Frank is a fourth generation Whanganui citizen and has worked as a partner in a horticultural operation with his wife Joy for most of his working life. They now specialise in vegetable seed and plant growing but perhaps are best publicly known for their work with “Wanganui in Bloom”.

Since 2004 Frank has been increasingly involved in developing community based peer run mental health services. He has been a speaker on self-management at various mental health conferences in New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, USA and Canada in the last seven years. He is a keen and passionate facilitator of approaches based on self-care, relationship-care and community-care philosophies embodied in Intentional Peer Support.

Frank is the current manager of Balance Whanganui which provides peer support and consultancy services to the Whanganui DHB area, and he also manages Balance NZ (a national peer network).

Mike Ward, NGO Expert

Mike Ward is a business administrator, originally in the corporate sector. For the past 20 years, he has managed the Whanganui Community Living Trust, a not-for-profit NGO that supports people with psychiatric disabilities in their daily lives.

Mike has a comprehensive background in the disability sector, and is a keen advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. He believes that a focus on human rights acts as a vital test for checking the robustness of effective health services delivery generally. That is, if health systems work well for marginalised populations, then they are likely to work well for the entire population.

Mike has extensive experience in the governance of community organisations, particularly in the disability and health not-for-profit sector, at both local and national levels. He believes a focus on the social determinants of ‘Health’ is particularly important.

Grace Taiaroa, Maori Expert

Tena Koutou,

Ko Grace Taiaroa ahau. Ko Ngati Apa, Nga Rauru, Ngati Maniapoto me te Iwi Morehu aku Iwi.
Ko Ratana Pa taku turangawaewae.

I am currently the manager of Hinengaro Hauora – mental health and addictions service Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority.

I am also a registered nurse and have worked in a number of roles over the years – with some time spent in the rural areas.

I have a range of experience gained through experience over the years and am committed to being able to provide a Maori view into the work that the team is developing.

Due to the nature of our relationships, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the Iwi Maori Rural Providers in regards to provision of mental health and addiction services.

Barbara Branford, Family Expert

I have worked in various roles for Supporting Families in Mental Illness for 24 years. For the past few years, I have been the manager for Supporting Families in Mental Illness, Whanganui. Currently, I am employed by Whanganui DHB as a senior family advisor. Supporting Families provide services to urban and rural areas across the Whanganui region similar to the areas covered by the WDHB. Services are provided to family, whanau of child and youth, adults and the older persons (those people with dementia/challenging behaviours).

My role as senior family advisor is to promote and enhance family inclusiveness by strengthening partnerships and trust between family, whanau, consumers and staff. I represent the interests of family, whanau by bringing a family, whanau perspective to service improvement within WDHB Mental Health and Addiction Services. I also help to develop process and procedures that recognise, support and facilitate the family, whanau role in the service user’s recovery journey.

Julie Nitschke, Primary Care Expert

Julie is a registered comprehensive nurse, MA with extensive experience in health. She has a clinical and leadership background having worked across hospital and primary settings. Previous roles include nurse advisor mental health services for the Manawatu/Whanganui district, service development manager, operations manager Palmerston North Hospital. For the last seven years she has worked as a clinical leader with Whanganui Regional Health Network.

Currently Julie is involved with a number of groups:

  • Clinical Director Primary Care, Whanganui Regional Health Network
  • Chair Whanganui Accident and Medical Board
  • Board Director and Chair Quality Governance MASH Trust
  • Member GPNZ Nursing Executive
  • Advisory member WDHB Hospital Advisory Committee
  • Member of the alliance leadership team
  • Member of the WRHN clinical governance
  • Sits on various regional steering and working groups.
She has expertise in the following areas:
  • Project management
  • Innovative projects and their implementation
  • Transformation change in primary care
  • Clinical Governance
  • Quality and risk
  • Process and system management.

Dr Terry Johnson, Specialist Mental Health Expert

Dr Johnson is a psychiatrist who did his basic medical training in Scotland and worked initially as a consultant psychiatrist in the United Kingdom before coming to New Zealand in 1984. He worked with the Canterbury DHB, initially as a psychiatrist at the old Sunnyside Hospital and then as medical superintendent/manager at Templeton Hospital.

Dr Johnson engaged in private practice before working again with the Canterbury DHB as a community psychiatrist. He came to Whanganui in 1997 to work as a community psychiatrist and shortly after was appointed to the position of clinical director of mental health and also director of area mental health services. Three years later he was appointed Medical Advisor to the board, a position that he retained for a further 6.5 years.

Currently he works as a psychiatrist to the elderly and has also been involved in setting up a Consultation Liaison Service to the general hospital.

He provides input to the Medical Council as a performance and competency assessor, is an accredited supervisor with the Royal College of Australian and New Zealand Psychiatrists and has provided numerous reports and reviews of mental health systems and hospitals, including being the college representative for the committee that set up Standards New Zealand 2002.

In addition to his medical qualifications and higher psychiatric attainments, he also holds a Diploma of Health Administration from Massey University and is well versed in health management.

He still enjoys input into the establishment and oversight of innovative systems as they apply to mental health.

Dr David Montgomery, Child and Youth Expert

Dr David Montgomery is the clinical director of paediatrics at Whanganui Hospital, and also works at Kidz First Children's Hospital in Auckland. He has been involved with the paediatric services in Whanganui since 1998 and has been the head of the paediatric department since 2007. In 2007, he was involved in setting up the Health, Education and Disability Services (HEADS) group in Whanganui, which is a multiagency team which meets weekly in order to collaborate in the management of children and young people with behavioural, developmental, educational and mental health problems. This type of integrated approach removes barriers which might otherwise impede children accessing the most appropriate care and expertise, and the success of the HEADS group is an encouraging indicator of the sort of gains which might arise from the Whanganui Rising to the Challenge process.

Andrea Bunn, Senior Portfolio Manager: Mental Health Services

Andrea is Whanganui DHB's senior portfolio manager for mental health and addictions, health of older people and palliative care. Andrea has a clinical background having trained as a registered nurse and social worker and has previous experience working with the Ministry of Social Development. She has strong rural connections through farming in Westmere and Waitotara areas and have a son farming in the Taihape district.

Tracey Schiebli, General Manager, Service & Business Planning, Whanganui DHB

Tracey's background in commerce, tax law and tax policy and her continued interest in policy development led her to the health sector in the mid-1990s. Tracey's early career at the DHB started in mental health, firstly in business management and with the introduction of DHBs in 2001, into a mental health planning role. She was appointed general manager to the DHB in 2006.

Tracey is passionate about the health sector and believes there are still many opportunities to achieve further health gains for our community. Rising to the Challenge is an opportunity to work with our communities to create a system that supports mental health and wellbeing.
Dr Frank Rawlinson, WDHB Mental Health & Addiction Services Clinical Director (chair)

Dr Francois (Frank) Rawlinson is a consultant psychiatrist and clinical director of mental health services with Whanganui DHB.