New support for Southern Lakes mental health, addiction and disability

Jan 21, 2022

From the Southern Wellbeing Trust:

"A partnership formed between the Southern Wellbeing Trust and Ember Innovations will take the Trust to a new level in supporting the wellbeing of the Queenstown Lakes community. 

The Southern Wellbeing Trust was recently selected by Ember Innovations as one of two Kiwi organisations it would work with to trial new ways of providing innovation support. The partnership will enable the Trust to tap into the expertise of the Ember team as it refines the strategic direction, builds connections, and develops a peer-led workforce and wellbeing services. 

Ember Innovations is part of the Ember Korowai Takitini Group, an established provider of mental health, addictions, and intellectual disabilities services for over 30 years.

Ember Innovations is focused on changing Aotearoa’s systems to better support wellbeing innovation. It does this by working with, and learning from, innovators to improve the support, and connections they receive from our innovation and health ecosystems. Ember Innovations is also bringing resource and energy to unmet needs, and advocating for a stronger enabling environment for wellbeing innovation.   

Anna Dorsey, General Manager and co-founder of the Southern Wellbeing Trust says her team is thrilled and humbled to be chosen.

"Being mentored by Ember Innovations and benefiting from their experience and connections will be invaluable in guiding our work within our own community. It's a real opportunity for us to leverage off Ember’s learnings as a provider of mental health services to ensure our organisation and approach is evidence-based, safe, robust and sustainable.

“Our goal is to work together to build capability within our community, using local skills and lived experience and supporting each other through globally proven peer-led strategies.”

Fiona Natusch, General Manager of Ember Innovations, says that Southern Wellbeing Trust caught her team’s attention through its systemic approach to community wellbeing that will evolve with the communities’ needs rather than providing a singular solution. 

“Ember Innovations is testing how our ecosystems can better support new wellbeing startups, and we’re excited to be trialling a range of support options with SWT”

“We believe that part of the answer to meeting Aotearoa’s huge demand for mental wellbeing support is to catalyse the growth of diverse community-based solutions, designed by people with a deep knowledge of their community’s needs. We can’t wait to see the impact that SWT will deliver.”

Ember Innovations will soon welcome Taimi Allan as its Innovation Director/Tumu Whakarae. Taimi joins Ember  Innovations from Lived Experience leaders Changing Minds after six years as its respected and highly influential CEO. Taimi is known for designing and delivering innovative peer-led and tech-first services and initiatives and  is a strategic advocate for people with lived experience. Taimi is currently an appointed member of the  Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission of Aotearoa and will be directly working with the Southern Wellbeing Trust leadership team.

A key priority for the partnership will be helping the Trust navigate the challenges of building its organisation, including developing a funding strategy that supports a sustainable business model and secures appropriate funding. 

Ember will also mentor those working in the Trust’s student placement programme who are researching peer support models and workforces.  The aim is to take the learnings from Ember’s experiences and see what could work within the Queenstown Lakes context. 

Another area of mutual interest is effective impact measurement—a critical yet challenging component for most social ventures. Ember Innovations is exploring how wellbeing initiatives, such as the Southern Wellbeing Trust, can utilise different impact measurement techniques to maximise their value proposition and ensure they do no harm, especially during early validation, without hindering the pace of innovation.

For more information about Ember Innovations visit . To find out more about the Southern Wellbeing Trust visit

Main Image Above:  L to R: Darryl Bishop - Group CEO Ember, Dr Tim Rigg - Director/Co-founder Southern Wellbeing Trust, Fiona Natusch - General Manager Ember Innovations, Anna Dorsey - General Manager/Co-founder Southern Wellbeing Trust.

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