After completing a law degree at the University of Canterbury and being admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor, Gemma's career began as a Consumer Advisor at a Forensic Psychiatric Service in New Zealand. She then completed two international internships - with the World Federation for Mental Health (USA) and the World Health Organisation (Geneva, Switzerland). Later, Gemma returned to the World Federation for Mental Health - as their Africa Initiative Secretariat Coordinator based in Cape Town, South Africa.
Upon resettling in New Zealand she worked as a Portfolio Manager at the Southern District Health Board, where she was responsible for strategic planning and funding of mental health and addiction services, and managing an annual funding budget of $85 million NZD.
Gemma has been working as a part-time consultant/contractor since 2008 for both government and NGOs, on a wide range of projects spanning quality improvement, project management and research. She has worked on small and large contracts, including a 2.5 year contract for a national coalition of disabled people's organisations, leading a project to monitor New Zealand's implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Gemma is committed to the mental health and addiction consumer, peer support and lived experience (CPSLE) workforce. She has experience in a range of roles across this workforce, including as a peer support worker and as a manager of a peer support and advocacy service. Currently Gemma is working part-time for Te Whatu Ora Southern, where she is a lived experience project manager, leading projects to develop the Southern CPSLE workforce and developing a model of care for peer-governed services. Much of her recent contracting work has focused on the CPSLE workforce - including working on the CPSLE Competencies, the Workforce Development Action Plan and a Training Needs Analysis.
Gemma has a strong focus on professional development and learning. In 2018 she graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Management (with Distinction) from the University of Otago, and attended a summer school on Global Mental Health at King's College in London. In 2019 she completed intentional peer support (IPS) training. In 2020 she competed healthcare auditor training and a postgraduate paper in mental health law. She has just started to learn te reo Māori through Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
In 2022 Gemma was appointed to the Manatū Hauora (Ministry of Health) Expert Advisory Group on the Repeal and Replacement of the Mental Health Act.
Gemma engages a range of expert associates across multiple fields, depending on client needs. She has experience successfully collaborating with technical advisors and with other consulting companies.
Please contact us to discuss your specific requirements further, and we will provide further information relevant to your project.