More about

Who we are

Who we are

CSS is the Social Services agency of the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin and as such provide a caring and supportive environment based on respect for all who seek our assistance.

Our key areas of specialty are:

  • Strengthening relationships and families
  • Helping kids feel loved and safe
  • Inspiring parents with new ideas
  • Exploring options to manage life’s challenges
  • Helping your voice get heard
  • Addressing the issues of trauma and emotional pain
  • Connecting people with other people and the resources in our communities

Our Mission

Catholic Social Services will respond to families throughout Otago and Southland especially those most in need, by utilizing the resources of parish communities and professional services to provide empowering and healing care through the love of Christ.

What this means is that

  • We will treat everyone with respect
  • We will work holistically with individuals, families and communities to empower them to make their own decisions
  • We will seek what is good for each person and for all people
  • We will be professional in what we do
  • We will recognise Te Tiriti o Waitangi as foundational for working in an Aotearoa New Zealand context

Our Aim

“Working together to live life well”

This statement reminds us that to achieve our purpose of supporting well-being for all, we need to work together as clients, professionals and community. What this means is that our practice is to build a partnership with our clients and other professionals that supports positive change and recognises the value and abilities of the people that come to us for assistance.

Our History

The agency was established in Dunedin in 1968 initially providing support to young pregnant mothers and general social work assistance. Over the years, in response to changing social needs, we have extended our services to include professional counselling and group programmes with a major focus on supporting parents and children.

Our services are free or low cost and available to all.

Who uses our services?

Most people approach us directly but we also take referrals from other community agencies, the health sector and Oranga Tamariki. We provide services in Dunedin city and have in recent years developed outreach services in and around Central Otago.

Our Guiding Principles


When we work with you, you can be assured that your private information will be protected. Counselling and Social work practice requires us to record notes of our work with you. This is on our secure client management system which we will hold for a period of 10 years. You can request to see what has been written by applying in writing to the director of Catholic Social Services.


As part of Catholic Social Services professional practice, staff will be supervised both at CSS and sometimes by an independent contractor to help them review the work they do and ensure you are receiving the best help that we can provide.


If during our work with you it comes to our notice that someone has been or maybe seriously harmed, our Code of Ethics means that we must alert the appropriate authorities. The Staff member will first consult with the Director of Catholic Social Services who will make the decision about the next step. We will let you know what happens next as soon as we can so you know what the process will be.

Information we collect

To help us understand who we are working with we will ask you for some information for our statistical purposes. This helps us know who we are working with and helps us when we seek funding to provide this service.


Some of our funding comes from the Ministry of Social Development. They regularly audit our work to ensure that we are meeting the standards of care and financial management expected of publicly funded organisations. In this process they may check how we do our filing but they are not looking for any private information.


We will work with you to set an appointment time that we both can keep. We appreciate that from time to time things may come up which means neither one of us can make that appointment. You can expect from us that we will contact you to let you know if there is a change as soon as is practicable. We would appreciate you being able to do the same for us.

Complaints Procedure

If you have a concern about the skills, actions or attitudes of one of our staff that cannot be directly resolved with them you should direct your complaint to Mike Tonks, Director, on 455 3838 PO Box 2047 Dunedin 9044. Mike will investigate your complaint and report back to you as soon as possible. Further information about this process is available on request.

Paramountcy Principle

Where a decision is to be made involving a child or young person, the paramountcy of the child’s interests and welfare are given prime consideration.

Making contact

CSS is a professional service and our usual office hours are 9-5 Monday to Friday. If you call outside of these times you will be given an opportunity to leave a message. We will return your call as soon as we can. Please confirm with your worker the best way for us to contact you should we need to.


At the conclusion of your work with us, you will be asked to fill in an evaluation. This is used to help us continue improving our service, report to our funders and provide you with a helpful reflection on the process of change that you may have gone through. We appreciate your honesty in filling these out.


Catholic Social Services is a community Social Services Agency providing affordable professional services. We are grateful for every contribution people can make towards the help that we provide. Our cost to provide the service is around $65 per hour or $75 for a course. We understand that this is not possible for all people and so clients of the agency may request a subsidy up to the full cost of the service to ensure they can access the help that is required. Please see your counsellor for a form.

Meet our staff

Our staff are all members or provisional members of their relevant professional associations. This means they meet and maintain the standards set by their professions. They also receive clinical and cultural supervision to assist us in giving you the best possible service.

Paul Barham

Community Support South Dunedin

Shona Waterhouse

Counsellor / ABC

Jacqueline Legros

Social Work / Supervised Contact Coordinator / Play On

Henk Van Der Vis


Mike Tonks


Liz Elder

Parenting Courses / ABC

Michelle Morris

Supervised Contact

Christine Burgin

Senior Social Work / Supervised Contact

Heather McMonigle

Counsellor / ABC / Birth Support Coordinator / Treasured Wee Ones Coordinator


Dona Foley

Community Support Central


Geoff Heward

Counsellor Central

Sarah Highsted



Luana Boel

Social Worker / BSG

Bev Harris



Margaret Bennett

Administration / reception

Marco Kleinlangevesloo

Game On Coordinator

Meet our Board Members

Michael Dooley



Gerard Aynsely
Craig Radford
Lisa Oseki
John Sneddon



Angela Vaaeau
Adele Smith
John Curran