The IHC Family-Whānau Liaison programme runs in Northland, Auckland Central, Manawatū/Horowhenua and Christchurch

What we do

We support people with intellectual disabilities and their families within their community. We are a point of contact for families to help navigate the system and connect them with organisations and support.

Our responsibilities

  • Establish and maintain connections with families, especially those who have a young family member with intellectual disability
  • Keep strong links with community organisations and find out about initiatives that support people with intellectual disability
  • Keep up-to-date on issues for intellectual disability and supporting families
  • Build relationships with government agencies
  • Liaise with key teaching staff at local high schools to inform parents of options past high school

Examples of our connections

  • Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC)
  • Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ)
  • Enabling Good Lives (EGL)
  • Educational facilities, especially high schools
  • People First NZ
  • Regional organisations (For example CCS, CAB, Spectrum Care)
  • Parent to Parent
  • WEKA (equipment)
  • Community Connectors
  • Personal Advocacy Trust (PAT)

Who we are

Donna Higgs-Herrick

Donna Higgs-Herrick


Donna has supported people with disabilities, long-term health conditions, neurodiversity and mental health conditions since 2010. She has strong relationships with families, network providers, community organisations, educators, health professionals and businesses in Canterbury and across Aotearoa.

Donna joined the IHC Group in 2021 with Choices NZ and became a Family-Whānau Liaison in 2023.
Cindy Carson

Cindy Carson

Mid North

Cindy’s passion is helping people and enriching lives, which she’s able to put into action as an IHC Family-Whānau Liaison. With 20 years’ experience as a Registered Nurse, Cindy can support families and whānau in the Auckland community to meet their unique goals, which she says is a privilege.

Outside of mahi, Cindy enjoys hiking, swimming and art, and has held solo and collaborative exhibitions.
Anna Wong

Anna Wong

West Central Auckland

Anna has worked in the education sector for eight years, supporting children with intellectual disability and autism. She joined IHC in 2017 as a volunteer coordinator, where she recruited and supported volunteers in their friendship with people with intellectual disabilities. During this time, she established numerous community contacts within the sector, and furthered her passion for helping others.

Anna joined the Family-Whānau Liaison team to continue supporting people with intellectual disability and their families by connecting them with information and local services.
Suzanne Downes

Suzanne Downes


With more than 30 years' experience in the education sector, primarily supporting learners with intellectual disability, Suzanne is always inspired by the idea that people supporting people is a powerful platform for creating change on both a small and grand scale.

Suzanne joined IHC in October 2015, holding previous roles within the organisation before taking on the role of Family-Whānau Liaison.
Jim Callaghan

Jim Callaghan


Jim has more than 20 years’ experience working in communities to promote healthy lifestyles, including developing health-related policies and materials.

Over this time Jim has advocated at both local and central government levels around health issues, and worked collaboratively in partnership with all three local Northland councils as well as the local DHB.

Jim’s strength is creating supportive environments and working with service providers to achieve desired outcomes.

Contact us

Contact one of our Family-Whānau Liaisons by calling 0800 442 311.

Two people smiling outside holding a dog

Contact us

Contact one of our Family-Whānau Liaisons by phoning 0800 442 311.

More ways we can help

A volunteer with her friend lying on the grass taking a selfie


The IHC library has information on all aspects of intellectual and developmental disability and is free to anyone living in New Zealand. You can visit, ring or email our librarians who can help you find relevant and reliable information. The library has books, magazines, DVDs and electronic resources. We also provide a free book to families.

Find out more

Services and housing

IHC has three subsidiaries which provide services and housing. These are IDEA Services, Choices and Accessible Properties.

Find out more

Stand Tall money game

A fun and free game that teaches you how to manage your money.

Find out more