Hui 2023 Presenter Information

You'll find information on our presenters for the FASD-CAN Hui 2023 here as they are confirmed and in order of appearance.


Saturday programme

• Welcome – Dr Leigh Henderson & Diana Kawana

Leigh Henderson is Chair of the FASD-CAN Board. She lives in Wellington with her husband and family. Their son was diagnosed with FASD when he was a teenager. She has held a variety of roles in industry, academia, consultancy and government and brings a huge range of management, negotiation and financial experience to the Board. Leigh is passionate about assisting families who are impacted by FASD and to raise society’s awareness to enable whānau to achieve the best possible life outcomes.

Diana Kawana (Ngā Wairiki) is currently employed at Te Puni Kōkiri as a Regional Coordinator, and has 14 years working alongside Watene Māori residing in Palmerston North. Passionate about the betterment of hapū, iwi and Māori organisations, Diana has worked in education for Te Wananga o Aotearoa and is a member of other governance boards. She has lived experience around challenges faced while raising a tamaiti with FASD over the last 14 years. 


Looking back: Reflecting on FASD in Aotearoa

• Ten Years of FASD-CAN – Claire Gyde

Claire was the founder of FASD-CAN ten years ago, along with others who played key roles in raising awareness and advocating for those with FASD in Aotearoa. Her contribution led FASD-CAN to secure some Government funding to enable the development of much needed support services. Claire lives in New Plymouth with her husband Paul and has raised two sons, now young adults, one of whom has FASD. Claire currently chairs Oranga Tamariki's Disability Advisory Group; she brings her background in FASD to this role.

• From Small Beginnings: a brief history of FASD in Aotearoa – Christine Rogan ONZM

Christine Rogan was a Health Promotion Advisor for Alcohol Healthwatch, a Charitable Trust funded by the Ministry of Health over several decades to work on alcohol harm reduction. Christine specialised in bringing attention to the harm of prenatal alcohol exposure, connecting with and working alongside people in policy, research, service provision and whanau living with FASD, to improve life outcomes. Christine retired after 25 years of health promotion & was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) this year for her years of service to the people of Aotearoa.  

• Development of Diagnosis and Clinical Practice in Aotearoa – Dr Valerie McGinn

Dr McGinn is a founding member of FASD-CAN. She is recognised as New Zealand’s leading expert in FASD, having made hundreds of diagnoses since training at the world-leading Asante Centre in Canada in 2008. She provides FASD-informed workshops, diagnostic training, supervision and advisory services. Dr McGinn has provided over 100 forensic assessments to the New Zealand Courts, resulting in FASD now being more understood within the legal system, but her primary focus is to support individuals with FASD and their families. 

• FASD in the justice system over the past decade – Judge Tony Fitzgerald

FASD-CAN patron Judge Fitzgerald has been a District Court Judge for 23 years and spends about half his time in the Youth Court. Judge Fitzgerald has spoken many times on justice issues around FASD both nationally and internationally. 



Parallel Session One: FASD and Mental Health

• Gilbert Taurua (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kāwa)

Gilbert has a distinguished career in the health sector in Aotearoa. With early roots in social work, his path has traversed significant roles in drug and alcohol addiction services and law reform. Gilbert has extensive governance experience and is passionate about improving health outcomes for Māori. He is a FASD-CAN Board member.

• Kim Milne – FASD-CAN Principal Advisor 

Kim has qualifications in history, political science, international politics, social work, and business management. She has held management positions within government and has organised and participated in multi-country science and technology delegations. Kim's energy is legendary and she is constantly upskilling to find more ways to help support whānau with FASD. She has lived experience with her partner in caring for their 22 year-old son who lives with FASD.

• The Lay of the Land in Aotearoa – Dr Jamie Speeden

Dr Speeden is a specialist Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist working with children, young adults and their whānau from a private clinic on the North Shore and also in the Waitemata DHB in a local CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) team. Jamie works with children and young people with neurodevelopmental issues such as ADHD, ASD and FASD, mood disorders, anxiety disorders and those that are gender questioning or transitioning.

Growing Pains website here.

• FASD and Psychiatric Diagnoses and Interventions


Dr Mela is an academic forensic psychiatrist and a founder of the forensic subspecialty in Canada. He is a Professor at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Saskatchewan and is also the Director of the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science and Justice Studies at the university.

As an expert, he regularly testifies on various aspects of the interface of law and psychiatry. He is the co-lead of the patient-oriented research hub in forensic mental health in Saskatchewan and vice Chair of the Forensic Research Network.

He is also an associate faculty member of the College of Law at the University of Saskatchewan and teaches medical and law undergraduate and post graduate students. 

Dr Mela was recently part of a team which developed a ground-breaking clinical algorithm for prescribers to help decide which psychotropic medication to use for those with FASD and Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (PAE). 

In 2021 he wrote ‘Prenatal Alcohol Exposure: A Clinician’s Guide’, which ‘equips professionals with the requisite skills and clinical acumen to identify individuals with PAE and provide them with optimum care’.

Dr Mela's research focuses on psycho-legal implications of cognitive deficits. He has specific interests and expertise in the area of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and is a lead researcher with Canada FASD research network (CanFASD). 

His other research interests include the role of spirituality, religiosity and forgiveness in moderating criminogenic factors. Reducing victimisation and improving patient outcomes, especially among the vulnerable, form the foundation of his clinical and scholarly activities.

• FASD and Anxiety, Depression, Substance Use and Self-Harm

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: (Fatima) Natascha Lawrence, MA, RCC, BCRPT

Natascha Lawrence (she/her) M.A., RCC, BCRPT is a Registered Clinical Counsellor, BC Registered Play Therapist, Certified Synergetic Play Therapy Supervisor and EMDR practitioner. She is a BIPOC first-generation Canadian settler of mixed Asian ancestry, an ADHDer, Queer and has a mobility disability due to a chronic pain neurological condition.

With almost 20 years of experience, Natascha specialises in neurodiversity, particularly FASD. Natascha has experience working with clients across different modalities and systems, including schools, hospitals, community mental health, and private practice, and has worked with individuals from birth to adulthood, couples and families. 

Natascha is the co-founder of the FASD Institute, which provides counselling, supervision and education to clinicians, individuals, and families. Natascha is the creator of the Empowering Neurodiversity (END) Model™, a framework that guides clinicians on dismantling racism, ableism, oppression, and decolonizing their practices to empower neurodiversity. 

Most importantly, Natascha is the parent of two neurodivergent children, one of whom has FASD. 

• FASD & Mental Health - A Māori Perspective

Speaker: Dr André McLachlan, Clinical Psychologist, Waikato 

Dr André McLachlan (Ngāti Apa / Ngāti Kauae, Muaūpoko / Ngāti Pāriri) is a Clinical Psychologist and researcher at Te Rau Ora and WINTECFor many years now André has led the advancement of innovative and dynamic kaupapa Māori-based therapeutic resources. He nurtures rangatahi who enter into this field and has maintained an integral role of manākitanga for emerging Māori psychologists, both informally as a leader in clinical psychology, and formally as a lecturer for Otago University and Wintec.


Parallel Session Two: Caregivers – Help is on the way!

• Life with FASD: Practical Accommodation – Anna Gundesen & RuruHana Brownie

Anna was our first FASD Navigator in Tāmaki Makaurau, appointed to the role in 2021. She provides support, education, networking, training and advocacy for parents, caregivers, grandparents, whānau and professionals. She is constantly updating her FASD kete and has recently completed the year-long training for facilitators in the USA. Anna is navigating the social, education and health services in Aotearoa to support her third child, a young teen who has FASD. 

is the FASD-CAN Navigator for Northland. She had a background in the Ministry of Justice prior to taking a part-time role with Caring Families Aotearoa. With her husband Dennis she has fostered many tamariki with FASD over 12 years for Oranga Tamariki. RuruHana is committed to growing her knowledge about the many forms of alcohol harm experienced by individuals and whānau in Aotearoa. 

• FASD and the 4 Bs: Brain, Bowels, Bladder and Behaviour – Lisa Smith

Lisa Smith has been a paediatric nurse for over 35 years; first in the UK, where she was also an Associate Lecturer at Dundee University, and then from 2004 in Aotearoa. In NZ, Lisa started in the children’s ward at Hastings Hospital where, 17 years ago, she set up a nurse-led paediatric continence service. Lisa credits her adopted son Aaron, who lives with FASD, in helping develop her mantra of ‘turn bad into good’ and says she never tires of hearing a child say ‘Mr Poo is a happy poo and comes out in the toilet every day’.

• A flavour of FASD in the Waikato – chaired by Rose Hawkins

Speakers: Kathryn Gilchrist, Clinical Psychologist Corrections; Nikki Craddock, Social worker Oranga Tamariki, Karleen Dove, Supervisor Social Worker, Oranga Tamariki; Leah Thompson, Resource Teacher Learning and Behaviour, Education Sector; Nyvonne Krause and Nu’umoe Collins, Caring Families Aotearoa; Jo Cottrell, Health Improvement Advisor, Waikato Public Health, Te Manawa; Jasmine Morrison, Director of Enabling Good Lives, Waikato.

Rose Hawkins is a Regional Disability Advisor in the Waikato for the Ministry for Children. She works to create awareness of FASD and other disabilities and to support people living with these differences and those around them to live their best lives. Rose has created FASD resources and has presented about FASD at many workshops, forums and conferences in Aotearoa and internationally. 

Nikki Craddock is a registered social worker who has a wealth of valuable social sector experience, having worked alongside youth and their whānau for 24 years, mostly for Oranga Tamariki. She has met many rangatahi with FASD and through this has developed a keen interest in working with those affected by it.

Karleen Dove has worked as a social worker and counsellor for over twenty years in New Zealand and Australia and is currently a Care and Protection Supervisor for Oranga Tamariki. She completed an FASD on-line course through University of Washington developed by Susan Astley and diagnostic training at the FASD clinic on the Gold Coast Qld. In 2023 Karleen completed a Post Graduate Certificate in the Clinical Diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder at University of Western Australia.

• Whānau, Whanaungatanga, Whakawhanaungatanga:
Creating Supports through Connections – Tania Henderson

Tania is the FASD-CAN Navigator in Ōtautahi / Christchurch and works within a tikanga Māori framework. She has delivered education on FASD in multiple workshops and courses such as within the Tikanga Mātua Te Ao Māori Parenting Programme and workshops in schools for those working with FASD tamariki. Tania was part of the panel which fed back to the Government on the 2016-2019 NZ FASD National Strategic Plan and has also been a board member of FASD-CAN. 


Pushing Forward - what does the future hold? 

Chair: Claire Gyde (see above)

• Addressing FASD in Whaikaha – Ben O'Meara, Deputy CE Whaikaha / Ministry of Health

Ben O’Meara is a Deputy Chief Executive of Whaikaha and is leading the Policy, Strategy, and Partnerships business group. His background at the Ministry of Education gave him significant experience in policy development, leadership within a policy context, and advising Ministers on strategic and operational policy matters. In 2021 Ben joined the Enabling Good Lives Governance Group. In 2022 he was part of the Government delegation to the United Nations, as part of the UNCRPD examination of New Zealand.
Ben and his team are leading the policy work on the way disability supports are provided, as well as leading Whaikaha's stewardship function across government and developing partnerships. 

• Embedding a Consideration of Neurodiversity with Oranga Tamariki – Claudia Boyles, Chief Advisor, Disability and Peter Whitcombe, Chief Social Worker

In addition to her lived experience with disability, Claudia has an extensive background in public policy including work in America and Australia with leadership experience across different sectors. In 2021, she joined Oranga Tamariki as the Chief Advisor, Disability. The purpose of the role is to lead a significant shift in disability policies, practices and supports aligned to the New Zealand Disability Strategy, Whāia Te Ao Mārama and the social- and rights-based models of disability.

Peter Whitcombe joined Child, Youth and Family in 2001, beginning in residential services in Ōtautahi. He moved to supervise a Care and Protection team and then took up the South Island Executive Manager role. Since then Peter has worked as a site manager, Director of the Canterbury Children’s Team, Youth Justice Regional Manager and a General Manager responsible for the 5 youth justice residences. Peter led the creation of the first National Strategic Partnership between Oranga Tamariki and Ngāi Tahu and was responsible for the development and early implementation of the National Care Standards. In April 2022 he was appointed Te Tumu Tauwhiro. Peter is a registered Social Worker.


Sunday programme

FASD Action Plan, Projects & Research in Aotearoa

• Overview of Progress on the FASD Action Plan, Research Projects and Future Steps

Speakers: Harsh Vardhan and Peter Carter, Te Whatu Ora

Harsh Vardhan is employed as the Programme Manager, Family and Community Health for the Commissioning Directorate based at the national office of Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand. Harsh provides leadership and oversight to the FASD programme managing the FASD initiatives. 

Harsh has several years of experience working at the frontline with children and young people with neurodevelopmental disabilities. He served as co-chair of the occupational therapy association for two successive terms and holds a practicing certificate in occupational therapy. 

Pete Carter studied social sciences at The University of Waikato and holds an MBA and Master of Health Management from Massey University. He has worked within health and social services for past 30 years, mostly in mental health and alcohol and drug sector.

For the past nine years, Pete has been living in Australia consulting in the health sector and for a time working as Director of Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol for NSW Health. Now back in NZ, Pete is the interim Director of Addiction at Te Whatu Ora. He is particularly committed to ensuring government better partners with communities as well as the broader health and social sectors.

• Research on the whole-of-system response to children/tamariki with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in Aotearoa 

Liz Smith – Litmus

Litmus is a Wellington company with over 20 years of specialist experience in social research, evaluation, and community engagement. They have been an integral part of social research in Aotearoa, including the Well Child Tamariki Ora programme, evaluating the Polynesian Vaccination Training and Support Programme, minimising use of physical restraint in NZ schools and kura and more.

Liz Smith is a co-founder and partner of Litmus. She has over 25 years of research and evaluation experience. Her work is focused on system change to enable better lives across the intersection of place, people, and systems to build an equitable and inclusive Aotearoa. Liz led the evaluations of the Alcohol and Drug Treatment Court, programmes supporting homelessness and research to inform the review of the WCTO programme. She was Vice President of the Australasian Evaluation Society from 2013-2018 and is a member of the Aotearoa New Zealand Evaluation Association. 


• The Development of Diagnostic Guidelines for FASD in Aotearoa

– Tania Henderson and the Guidelines Team

Tania is the FASD-CAN Navigator in Ōtautahi / Christchurch and works within a tikanga Māori framework. She has delivered education on FASD in multiple workshops and courses such as within the Tikanga Mātua Te Ao Māori Parenting Programme and workshops in schools for those working with FASD tamariki. Tania was part of the panel which fed back to the Government on the 2016-2019 NZ FASD National Strategic Plan and has also been a board member of FASD-CAN. 


• Research study on Interventions – Nau Te Whatu Māori

– Lizzie Strickett (Te Pūna Whakamaunu – Research UnitHāpai te Hauora) 

Lizzie holds Arts and Commerce degrees (Media, Marketing, Psychology) with a Master’s degree in Health Psychology from the University of Auckland and has tribal affiliations to Ngāpuhi and Te Rarawa in the Far North of Aotearoa. Her thesis explored the link between depression and obesity in pregnancy, and the impact of low social support and racism on mental health. It used a mixed methodology, employing both quantitative and qualitative approaches to data collection and analysis. Lizzie has also worked alongside various Maori research bodies, including Nga Pae O Te Maramatanga and Shore & Whaariki research centre on research projects that centred on parenting, sexuality and the representation of young Maori parents within healthcare spaces.

• Caring in the Chaos: How Caregivers of People Living with FASD Survive and Thrive

– Professor Anita Gibbs

Anita trained as a social worker in the UK and worked in criminal justice. She completed her PhD at the University of Bristol and after postdoctoral research at the University of Oxford she moved to Otago in 1999. She has taught numerous social work, sociology and criminology courses since then and lectured on FASD nationally and internationally. Anita is a registered social worker and facilitates a parent support group for families where FASD is an issue. She has valuable lived experience of caring for a son with FASD.