The Fono

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Sally’s first for Pacific

The Fono’s Chief Operating Officer Sally Dalhousie is the first Pacific person to be elected onto the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) Board. The momentous appointment brings a Pacific voice to New Zealand’s professional social work body.

Born and raised in Invercargill to a Tongan mum and Kiwi father, Sally admits that her tight-knit family were isolated from other Pacific people, which fuelled her desire to connect.

Her mother was a founding member of the Invercargill branch of P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A. Inc, New Zealand’s only national Pacific women’s organisation.

The connection inspired Sally to seek out her own path in social justice, whilst exploring her own identity as a Tongan woman in Invercargill.

Pursuing social work at a tertiary level, Sally completed her degree at Otago University after the birth of her son, and began her career as a community based social worker on the frontline.

Her genuine passion for social justice combined with a focus on improving vulnerable peoples’ lives was strongly grounded in contributing to the social development of Pacific people in New Zealand.

“I have a passion for development, whether that’s personal, professional, organisational or community development,” she says.

She later moved into organisational development, and in 2000 helped to launch Family Start in Invercargill, before moving to Auckland in 2006 to work for Waipareira Pasifika Ltd.

In honour of her mother, Sally became the National President of P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A. Inc. as she worked towards progressing Pacific representation in social work.

Convening the Pacific Social Workers Interest Group of ANZASW for seven years, Sally believed in the importance of a Pacific voice on the ANZASW Board.

Always at the forefront of her mind was the importance of Pacific representation at the ANZASW.

“I had maintained my membership because my work has always been around strengths-based practice. The base values of social work have always underpinned my practice, regardless of whatever role I’ve taken on.”

Noticing the lack of Pacific representation on the ANZASW board, Sally accepted her nomination without hesitation.

“It was time for Pacific social workers to have a voice at the ANZASW board table,” says Sally. “With so many Pacific families accessing social services, it is important to ensure that their voice is being heard where there is the highest levels of influence.”

Tevita Funaki, Chief Executive of The Fono, says Sally’s appointment is significant for The Fono, as well as Sally personally and professionally.

“Sally’s appointment is significant for The Fono and Pacific as this will ensure we are participating at the highest level and the social service profession meets the needs of Pacific,” he says.

“This is part of the strategic positioning of The Fono, and as an organisation we are delighted to support Sally’s achievement.”

Having come to The Fono to use her skills to help build an organisation that cares for its Pacific community, Sally says she thrives on detailed analysis work.

Being able to contribute to Pacific development and helping to embed The Fono’s motto of ‘Caring is our Culture’ into the everyday practice of the Fono’s staff is immensely satisfying.

“I’ve always had a deep sense of duty of care to Pacific because I was raised by a Tongan woman to be a woman,” says Sally.

“How she sees the world has had a huge influence on how I see the world.”