National Support Groups in Aotearoa NZ

Research has shown that attending support groups can be extremely positive for stressed caregivers. Attending one can reduce the sense of isolation which can be all too common, provide a safe place to discuss issues (and realise that others are going through similar experiences and you're not alone!), increase both emotional support and knowledge/strategies, and provide many more positive and empowering effects.

To this end FASD-CAN has been building a team of invested, FASD-informed caregiver support group facilitators around the motu, who meet kanohi ki te kanohi / face to face, usually on a monthly basis. See the list below. 

If you would like to become a volunteer facilitator for parents and caregivers in your area, please get in touch with us. We provide some training and support – and a little funding for tea and cake! 

Monthly online support group

In April 2023 we launched an ONLINE support group which all caregivers and whānau are warmly invited to join, whether you have a local, in-person support group or not. You can join in at any time. Our online group is facilitated by FASD-CAN staff and long-term members, all of whom have lived experience of raising a person with FASD and are highly FASD-informed.

• The online caregiver support group meets monthly on Thursdays at lunchtimes between 12.30-1.30pm. 
• This group is running again in 2024, beginning on February 1. 

Find out more and register here.

 


FASD-CAN Regional Caregiver Support Groups 

Below is a list of FASD-CAN's kanohi ki te kanohi / face-to-face caregiver support groups in Aotearoa. 


North Island

Whāngarei

This group is facilitated by RuruHana Brownie, our Te Tai Tokerau FASD-CAN Navigator. 

The next meeting of this group will be 10.30-12.30pm (note new start time!) Thursday 29 February, 2024, at 16a Finlayson Street, Whangārei. The first meeting was popular, so if you are intending to join this year, please contact RuruHana on the email below so she can book an appropriate venue for more members!  

RuruHana has a long career in supporting whānau who are doing it tough. Since mid-2022 she has been facilitating our ‘Life with FASD’ caregiver trainings alongside Anna Gundesen, our Navigator in Tāmaki Makaurau. RuruHana’s wonderful empathy and experience working with whānau has been a lifeline for many.

Contact RuruHana if you are interested in joining a support group in Whāngarei: [email protected]

 


Tāmaki Makaurau

We have two established and one brand-new Auckland caregiver support groups.

North Shore / Hibiscus Coast

This group is a fledgling waiting to fly! Get in touch with Leanne Simonsen if you're north of Auckland and would like to meet others caring for tamariki or rangatahi with FASD.

Leanne says: I live with my husband Mike and home-for-life daughter who is 15 and has FASD, ADHD and ASD. We started fostering her from eight years old – she is a very creative, funny young lady who loves horse riding and her special Olympics ten-pin bowling. Life is very full-on and has a lot of challenges. We also have a young dog, Buddy, who brings our daughter joy and friendship.

To register your interest in this group, please email Leanne at [email protected]

 

Central-West – Blockhouse Bay

This group meets on the second Tuesday of every month at 7pm – 8.45pm in the lounge of the Church of the Saviour, 2 Heaphy St, Blockhouse Bay. It's for for parents, caregivers and whānau, hosted by caregivers – Anna Gundesen, our Tāmaki Makaurau Navigator and Ross and Trish Porter.  

Anna has lived experience as a home-for-life mum of a teenage daughter. She brings to the group her group facilitation skills and her professional knowledge of FASD. She says the group is a safe haven for whānau, grandparents, aunts, uncles and biological parents to share and be supported by those who 'get it'.

 

Trish and Ross are parents of four adult children and grandparents to seven. Their youngest daughter, who joined their family as a 14-month-old and is now 24 years old, lives with FASD. 

Four years ago Trish moved to the RTLB (Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour) service. Previously she had worked as an SLT (Speech Language Therapist) and as a teacher in a Special School, for ORS (Ongoing Resourcing Scheme) funded students. Trish is part of the FASD-CAN Education Advisory Group

 

Ross is on the Board of FASD-CAN and is also our Treasurer. He works in finance, supports his community at the church where this group is based and volunteers part-time as a student mentor. 

 


South Auckland – Papakura

This group meets on the first Wednesday of every month at 10.30am – 12 noon and is supported by Tony Kake at Papakura Marae, 29 Hunua Road, Papakura. It's for parents, caregivers and whānau, hosted by Anna Gundesen and Tracey Johnson.

Tracey is a full-time advocate for her young adult son who has FASD. She was a qualified primary school teacher for 10 years, and has also taught at secondary school level. She has volunteered as a learning support assistant at secondary school level for students who did not qualify for funding in the classroom. She supported the ESOL teacher at the secondary school to prepare and deliver lessons at the students’ educational levels. Tracey is also part of our Education Advisory Group

For more information on either of these groups, please contact Anna on 021 810 965 or email her at [email protected]

 


Central North Island

Kirikiriroa / Hamilton – facilitated by Teesh Dowie-Lewis

* This group will be meeting at Cafe Fresca, 78 Alison Street, Hamilton from 10.15am to 11.45am on the middle Wednesday of each month. 

Teesh says: I am passionate about helping people. I’ve worked with children with FASD for over 25 years and have personally cared for more than 60 children in my own home. I support and advocate for FASD children and their whānau to navigate through the systems  of OT, Youth Justice, the courts, the Ministry of Education and Te Whatu Ora / the Ministry of Health. My goal is to pinpoint every FASD child's passion, interest or their special gift and extend this to support them to thrive and succeed in their life journey.   

Contact Teesh for further info at: [email protected]


Tauranga – facilitated by Janet Hargreaves-Greer

* This group is brand-new and Janet would love to hear from anyone who is keen to join to discuss what would work for the community in Tauranga.

Janet says: Tena koutou katoa, Ko Ngatokimatawhaoroa te waka, Ko Rakaumangamanga te maunga, Ko Ipiripi te awa, Ko Ngapuhi me Ngati Whatua ki Orakei nga iwi, Ko Ngati Kuta Patukeha, raua ko Ngati Wai nga Hapu, Kei Whāngarei toku kainga whānau, Ko Te Ranga toku kainga, Ko Janet Ann Hargreaves-Greer ahau.

I am a mother of many children – some biological, and others who were gifted to me. One of my taonga is a 10-year-old girl who has FASD, ADHD, ODD, generalized anxiety…. The list of diagnoses goes on! I am a Registered Nurse, living and working in Tauranga. I understand the challenges these neuro-spicy children bring to our lives, and would love to meet you to laugh, console, celebrate and support you to keep up the great work you are already doing. I look forward to meeting you.

Contact Janet for info and to register your interest: [email protected]  |  Mobile: 021 145 7768

Rotorua – facilitated by Heather Jeffcote

* This group usually meets on the second Friday of the month from 9.45-11.15am at Rotorua Baptist Church, 100 Malfroy Rd (note - timings and venue may differ – if you are thinking of attending, please get in touch with Heather on the email below).

Heather says: Kia ora koutou! I am married to Steve and we have four adult children. We now also have the delight and challenge of parenting a seven-year old with FASD. This lived experience has led me on a journey of learning that I’m sure will last a lifetime!

I have a background in education and I’m currently studying to become a facilitator of the FASCETS neurobehavioural model, a way of understanding and supporting people with brain based conditions.

I definitely don’t have all the answers(!) but I know first-hand how important it is to have encouragement and support. I consider it a privilege to walk alongside other carers and whānau members as we support each other in our challenging mahi.

Contact Heather if you’re keen to join this group: [email protected]

 

Ohakune – facilitated by Ebony Wood and Morvern Duncan

*This group is new and looking for new participants! Contact Ebony or Morvern below to let them know if you're keen to join – a meeting time and place will be decided on that will suit the group. 

Kia ora i te Iwi
Ko Ruapehu te Maunga
Ko Tirorangi te Marae
Ko Whangaehu to Awa
Ko Ngati Rangi to Iwi
Kei Raetihi toku kāinga whanau
Ko Ebony Wood ahau.

My name is Ebony Wood, I live in Raetihi and I’m the caregiver for three outgoing, caring, creative young ladies aged 9, 10 and 11 – all with FASD. No two days are the same, but it’s about working together to get though each challenge. I’m looking forward to providing a safe space to support other whānau to come and speak freely, without judgement.

Tena koutou
Ko Whitireia te maunga
Ko Kenepuru te awa
Ko Ngati Pakeha te iwi
No Pōneke toku kainga
No Ohakune toku kainga inaianei
Ko Duncan te hapu
Ko Morvern toku ingoa.

I have been teaching for over 24 years now, and most of that time I have been working with students who have additional needs. I am also Aunty to my co-facilitator Ebony's three step-daughters, who have FASD. The times they stay with me and my partner can be challenging, but at the same time, rewarding. Ebony and I work together to keep consistency between both houses. I am looking forward to getting to know and support whānau in our area over a coffee and a chat.

If you’re keen to join this group, contact Ebony at [email protected]
or Morvern at [email protected] or call her on 0274 375 485

 


Lower North Island

Palmerston North – facilitated by Andrea Neil.

This group is new and is keen for new members! 

Andrea says: Hi, Andrea, I’m a born-and-bred ‘Palmy’ girl. I live on a little lifestyle block just out of Palmerston North with four generations under the one roof enabling the children to enjoy time with the animals and exploring the bug life.

I would describe myself as a family-oriented individual who strongly believes in an approach to life where strengths are identified and  solutions are the key focus. My entire working career has been in disability sector until recently, when I moving into the aged care sector.

Contact Andrea if you're interested in a support group in Palmerston North: [email protected] 


Pōneke / Wellington

The Wellington support group is made up of both carers and professionals and aims to meet approximately every two months.

Contact Leigh Henderson if you're interested in joining the Wellington support group: [email protected] 

 



Te Wai Pounamu - The South Island

Ōtepoti / Dunedin – facilitated by Margaret Hemopo (Green Island area)

Margaret and her husband Phillip Hemopo fostered twin boys at 6 weeks old - they're now teenagers who been diagnosed with FASD. Since then they fostered another boy aged six at the time – besides their own two children. This year (2024) they won an 'Excellence in Caregiving' award through Caring Families Aotearoa - click here to read more about this.

Margaret says: "I've been a mum and foster parent for the last 15 years. We've experienced the joys and stresses that go with FASD and ADHD and through working with all the organisations involved with getting the best outcomes for our tamariki."

This group will meet in the Green Island area of Ōtepoti / Dunedin. It is a brand-new group – contact Margaret if you're interested in joining at: [email protected] or call or text her on 021 0272 5123. 


Other Caregiver Support or Networking Groups
(not hosted by FASD-CAN)

FASD-CAN prides itself on its reputation as the hub of FASD knowledge and support, but we are also aware that other groups offer caregiver support.

Caring Families Aotearoa

Parent to Parent

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Disability Connect


Whanganui

Meetings on the first and third Tuesday of every month at 48 Alma Road, Whanganui.
Contact Susan Edgecombe at [email protected] or call her on 021 022 43078.