Meet the Chair of Midland Family Whãnau Networkbrian-thomas.jpg

The Midland MH&A team values the support provided from the regional stakeholders, representatives from across the five DHB areas.  All our regional networks are led by the chairs that are nominated for a two year period and supported by the Midland MH&A team. 

We asked Brian Thomas the chair of the Family Whãnau Leadership Network – Te Ao Whãnau questions about his role as chair and commitment to family whānau.

Tell us a little about yourself and how did you first get involved with the Midland Family Whãnau Leadership Network also known as Te Ao Whãnau?

I have worked in various roles in the mental health field in NZ for around 26 years. I became involved with Te Ao Whãnau as I am interested in making a difference for families and being a voice for families. I do this at a local level in the Western Bay of Plenty and enjoy doing it at a regional level with Te Ao Whãnau, which in turn has an impact at a national level.

What was your first impression of the regional network?

My first impression was its great to meet up with all these passionate people who are advocating for family and whãnau in their local areas of Midlands. I thought that collectively through discussion, brainstorming, debating issues and making recommendations we could provide a strong representation for family and whãnau.

What do you find most challenging about regional issues for Family Whãnau?

  • Housing: for family and whanau’s loved ones.
  • Being heard, involved and taken seriously: Many families do not get consulted by Psychiatrists or Case managers.
  • I don’t consider you can do a ‘full’ assessment of an unwell person by only interviewing them: The family and whãnau can provide a lot of useful information that would be of valuable assistance in the assessment process. The assessor would then be working with a fuller (bigger picture) set of facts. To me it makes nonsense in making an assessment on a fraction of the information.

As chair of this network, what is your expectation from stakeholders?

Keep your local Te Ao Whãnau representative informed as they are the ones who will take your stories and concerns to the Te Ao Whãnau meetings. Change comes from action, so be prepared to be part of the change by actively informing your local rep.

What would you like to say to family whānau, whom you represent as a network and chair of Te Ao Whānau?

Family and Whãnau have a very important role to play in their loved ones life. There are a lot of unsung heroes amongst family and whānau members who have been ‘fighting the good fight’ over a long period of time.

I believe the Te Ao Whānau's members have family and whānau hearts in mind. I believe that the Te Ao Whānau's voice is strong and effective, and always mindful of the families and Whānau's they serve.

What is your favourite "words of wisdom"?

Always ensure you are okay within yourself every day. That way you will be the best you can be for others. You deserve it, and so do they.