Support worker profiles

Support workers make up a large part of the workforce in mental health and addiction services, especially in NGOs. However, many people are not aware of the variety of roles within the support workforce or the work they do. We have interviewed a number of community support workers to share their profiles.

Through sharing support workers’ stories, we hope to increase understanding about the diversity and breadth of community support worker roles and showcase their work. Check out the stories below and also a video, profiling mental health and addiction support workers.

Robyn Shearer (Chief executive of Te Pou) and Marion Blake (Chief executive of Platform) give us their perspectives on why it is important that we know more about this vital work. 


  • Damian Holt is an addictions advocate and peer support worker for Mental Health Advocacy and Peer Support (MHAPS) in Christchurch. 
  • Sasha Toia is a community support worker for Arataki Ministries in Northland.
  • Tom White is a support worker at a residential centre run by Odyssey in Counties Manukau. 
  • Pauline Nevin is the coordinator for COMPASS Peer Support and Advocacy Service in Nelson.
  • Argentina Fatialofa is a community support worker and team leader at Vaka Tautua’s West Auckland centre.
  • Phillipa Cole is a support worker with the Navigation service run by Pathways in Wellington. 
  • Michele Edwards is a youth support worker with Infant, Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Addiction Service (ICAMHAS) at Whanganui District Health Board (DHB).

Check out the videos below to hear from mental health and addiction support workers, including what they like most about their jobs and advice they'd give people looking to do similar work.