Pania, Family Works Social Worker

Getting to know our staff.

What is your role at Presbyterian Support Otago (PSO)?

I’m a social worker with the Family Works team based in Dunedin. I joined the team almost two years ago, and I’ve been a social work practitioner for over 16 years now.

What drew you to this work?

My own life experiences. My mother was paralysed in a motorbike accident.

My four siblings – the youngest was three at the time – received scant attention from public and health agencies. Supporting your family is a positive thing, but in cases where children have too many or inappropriate responsibilities the long-term effects can be hurtful. I experienced this in my own family as I faced family breakdown, disability, mental health and poverty.

I know what it’s like when children feel like they don’t have a voice. I understand the distrust people feel when they are being ‘helped’ by outsiders, and the hopelessness whānau can feel when professionals don’t do the right thing.

How does this shape your work with people at PSO?

The heart of my work is listening to the needs of the children and families I work with - giving them a voice, and having an eye for the big picture – the whānau – not just the person referred. Role-modelling a different way is a big part of my practice. Above all, I am a passionate advocate for children.

What do you enjoy about your role?

I enjoy encouraging and supporting people to build on their confidence and capabilities. Enabling people to have more control over their lives is a rewarding part of my job - everyone needs hope!

Thank you, Pania!

Advice and Support for Anyone

PSO’s Family Works Social Workers provide help and guidance to anyone in need, at any stage of life. They help those facing challenging life situations to develop new life skills, understand their rights and access important services – including parenting skills, financial skills and connecting with all available supports.

Our social workers are located in Dunedin, Waitaki and Central Otago. You can contact our social work team on freephone 0508 396 678 or by email at

Winter People magazine 2021

Download a PDF of our People Magazine - 7MB