About Us

Our vision is to contribute to the elimination of rape and sexual abuse aginst women, children and men in society by offering support advocacy, information and education in the southland region.

Our mission is to promote the safety and wellbeing of women, children and men through support, education, counselling and advocacy.

Everyone at Southland Help

Meet the team

Sue - Centre Manager

Kia ora. I am a Southlander who did all my schooling in Invercargill. I moved away and lived in many different places until returning home from Palmerston North in 2015.

My role is the Manager  of Southland Help.

I like to be busy and active with inside and outside activities. In the outdoors I like walking, cycling, gardening and have just discovered the fun of disc golf in Queens Park. In the colder days, I enjoy crafts of knitting, crochet and learning/playing the ukulele.

Prior to my current position I have had a wide range of experiences with the community sector and non-profit groups which includes administration and management.  I have had many roles on governance boards both at a local and National level as well as funding allocation committees. 

I am passionate about the best outcome for the client and it is a privilege to be working for an organisation that has had a positive impact in the community.

Graduate Diploma in Not for profit Management (grad Dip NFP) NZ Institute of Management (NZIM Cert);

Shirl Holster - Counsellor

Hi. My home place is the King country, Taumaraunui.  I have lived in Hamilton and other places and moved to Invercargill in 2017.

I am a Counsellor at Southland Help.

In the weekends, I like to explore the beautiful countryside of the South Island and connect with nature.  I also enjoy riding some of the bike trails and keeping healthy by working out in the gym. 

I regard myself as a conscientious, competent counsellor who has worked with a diverse range of issues. My experiences have seen me working in NGO’s such as mental health services, kaupapa Maori, Pacific Island services and others.

I am excited for the opportunity to provide support and counselling to individuals and families who have experienced sexual harm and are on their journey of healing, self awareness and empowerment.

Bachelor of Social Sciences (Counselling) MNZAC

Vanessa Spooner - Support Worker

Tena koutou katoa.  

Ko Hikurangi te maunga, ko Waiapu te awa, Ko Horouta te waka, Ko Ngati Porou te iwi, Ko Tokomaru Bay awau. Ko Vanessa Spooner toku ingoa.   I moved to Invercargill to study at SITT.

My role at Southland Help is the Programme Co-Ordinator for the Connections Coffee Group, Imagine Women (personal development programme ), Skills for Safety (self defence)

I love travelling overseas, exploring what other countries have to offer with cultural experiences and sightseeing.

My background is varied. I have worked in the business financial sector - banking; in education - teaching, special needs students, in social services - employment case management and social support work.  I am currently studying Bi-Cultural Teaching Degree with Otago University, Southland Campus

My dedication to this work is to manaaki people who have experienced sexual harm and are on their journey towards healing and empowerment.


Diploma in Bi-Lingual Teaching; Certificate in Social Services; MNZASW;

Rhona Shaw - Practice Manager

Nga mihi mahana ki a koutou.

Ko tititea te maunga, ko Ma-atua te awa, no Waitahuna ahau.  Ko Rhona Shaw ahau. I am new to Invercargill.

I am Practice Manager with this team of people dedicated to assist others.

I love connecting with people from diverse experiences and cultures; addicted to learning new skills and creating – jewellery making, silversmith, casting copper, bronze. My current learning is raranga harakeke – flax weaving.  

My career is a quilt of many fabrics –  researcher, staff development, quality systems, Tiriti o Waitangi,  education psychology and counsellor in a diverse range of environments throughout Aotearoa and the Cook Islands.  

I work from a feminist framework and am humbled to work in this area of facilitating healing and growth for those who have experienced trauma and sexual harm.

Dip Teaching; B. Education; Masters Educational Psychology; PG. Dip in Career Development; Dip. Tohu Mohiotanga. MNZAC

It’s a safe place to be ourselves and find acceptance, compassion and healing among women who understand

Southland Help Client

ACC Accredited

ACC Sensitive Claim’s (Integrated Service for Sensitive Claim -  ISSC) findsupport.co.nz is an ACC process where a person who has experienced sexual harm/violence can make an ACC Claim to get treatment around dealing with the experience.  This may involve social work support, counselling or some other form of treatment to help.

Southland Help Rape and Abuse Support Centre is an ACC Supplier, this means that we have a contract with ACC and have Providers (Counsellors and Social Workers) who can work with you.   ACC will cover the costs, if your claim is accepted.

We are happy to help you with the ACC process, just get in touch.