When asked for insights gained through her research on children with a disability, Maree Kirk says, “See the child first!” Maree initially started studying to find ways to best support her 21 year old son Spencer. However, it’s a path which eventually steered her towards an academic career, with her Masters degree focusing on wellbeing for children with a disability in New Zealand.

SPOTLIGHT: Sandra Jones

It’s a memorable image, and a powerful one: Dunedin mum Sandra Jones decked out in an orange fluoro suit holding a large sign reading “crime doesn't pay, caregiving doesn't either" in Dunedin’s Octagon. She was one of the battlers in the struggle for family carers to be paid - something which ultimately resulted in the Funded Family Care payment.

SPOTLIGHT: Keri and her Dad

Keri didn’t grow up with her Dad, but when she ran into him as an adult, the former rest home caregiver knew he needed her help.

“I bumped into him in Wellington and all my experience with caring and servicing people kicked into place after seeing the way he was living and being treated,” the 51-year-old says. “And so began my journey looking after my Dad.”