about us

Our Story

Able Minds was established in 2015 through the merger of four organisations: Supporting Families Southland, Waitaki, and Central Otago, and Schizophrenia Fellowship Otago. The organisation was previously known as both Able Charitable Trust and Able Southern Family Support, and was rebranded as Able Minds in early 2021.

Our parent organisations have provided more than 40 years’ of combined service to the communities of Otago and Southland.

Able Minds’ primary purpose is to provide support to tangata whaiora who are affected by mental distress or addiction and their whānau in New Zealand. We are a community-based service providing tools, tactics and strategies to build resilience in our people and across the community. We offer emotional support, information, education, advocacy and peer support groups.

We operate numerous programmes to support tangata whaiora and their whānau to connect with their community and learn new skills, build confidence and find comradery in times of need. We hold contracts for service with Southern District Health Board, Ministry of Social Development and Ministry of Justice along with receiving assistance from a number of other grant funders.

Our Timeout Contact Division provides individual supervised contact for parents and children who are exposed to challenges associated with separation. Timeout Contact creates a safe environment to strengthen and maintain vital relationships so that long term, any feelings of guilt or blame is reduced.

Able Minds is led by Chief Executive Sarah Dowie, who was appointed to the position in November 2020 and started work in February 2021, and is governed by our Board of Trustees. We operate in the Otago and Southland regions and have office presence in Invercargill, Gore, Dunedin, Oamaru and Alexandra with more than 20 staff.

Our Mission

Able Minds supports tangata whaiora who are affected by mental distress or addiction and their family and whānau in New Zealand. Our goal is to provide individuals and whānau with the strength, skills, and support they need for a better life experience at home, in the community, and at work both now and into the future.

Our Values

Information and empowerment

We provide tangata whaiora and whānau with the resilience and strength they need to overcome difficult situations. We empower them through knowledge and understanding and by increasing their self-determination to be part of the wider community.


We care for individuals who are often marginalised and may experience discrimination and/or oppression. It is vital for us to recognise the risks for people of being socially excluded. Our team members are tasked with promoting social change to support tangata whaiora and whānau wellbeing, human rights, and social justice. We build on their strengths, walk alongside them to support their sense of self-respect and belonging in the community.

Empathy and respect

Our team members genuinely care for tangata whaiora and whānau with whom we work. We seek perspectives to help us to understand how they are feeling and why. This enables us to provide the best possible care strategy for each individual and whānau we support. We respect the rights and dignity of others and hold these in the highest regard at all times.

Cultural awareness and inclusion

We respect cultural and ethnic diversity. We seek to put into practise our knowledge and understanding of the different cultural traditions and values our tangata whaiora may have. Our team members learn by networking with kaupapa Maori and other ethnic services. We uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi by walking alongside our tangata whaiora and their whānau on their journey, and honour their values, beliefs, and traditions.

Professional standards

We are committed to upholding the highest professional and ethical standards in the advancement of our mission. We seek to empower our tangata whaiora and their whānau to build resilience and obtain the necessary skills to have a better life experience at home, in the community, and at work.


We understand that Able Minds is the custodian of people’s personal and private information. We comply at all times with regulations relating to the maintenance, where appropriate, of the privacy of individuals and groups and we protect this fundamental right.

Integrity and accountability

We conduct ourselves with the highest level of integrity in all of our dealings with our tangata whaiora and their whānau, our team members, the public, and other professionals. We are accountable to our clients, our colleagues, and other professionals by being open, honest, and transparent at all times.


We will continuously strive for excellence in our work and build trust in our organisation by maintaining a client- and people-centred focus, and by doing what we say we will do. We will always listen, learn and continue to improve in everything we do toward delivering a high quality culturally-appropriate service for all.

Our People

Senior Management Team

Sarah Dowie

Chief Executive

Rachel Harbrow

Operations Manager

Kirsty Cotterill-Craig

Business Manager

John Romano

Practice Manager

Emil Pienaar

Workforce Development Manager

Alysia Forbes

Timeout Contact Manager

Whanau Fieldworkers

Ngaiwa McCallum


Natasha Barrett


Erin Parkes


Sue McKellar


Rebbecca Paton


Jo Galletly




Anjelica Matapo


Activity Centres | Peer Support

Emma Philp


Claire Scherp


Rachael Roberts 


Marcene Weir 


Signature Programmes

Rachel Loper


TOC Contact Supervisors

Kelly Cormack


Able Charitable Trust
Annual Reports

To view current and past Annual Reports click below