Southern Region

About Us

The Southern AYA Cancer Service provides services to the lower South Island including Dunedin, Invercargil and Queenstown districts.

The AYA cancer keyworker is based out of Dunedin hospital and works with all young people diagnosed and treated there. The AYA Cancer keyworker liaises with health professionals with expertise in AYA cancer care located in Invercargill, Dunstan, Balclutha and Oamaru hospital. They support the care provided to any young people diagnosed and receiving treatment in these areas.

All AYA patients with cancer throughout the region are discussed at the South Island Supra Regional Multidisciplinay meeting to ensure that their unique needs are being addressed.

How to make a referral to the AYA Cancer Service

Referrals should be made to the AYA Cancer Service when there is a high suspicion of cancer. Early involvement of this specialist service helps young people and their whānau to navigate services and ensures that important AYA-specific issues are addressed early, including fertility preservation and clinical trial enrolment.

We welcome referrals from young people and their whanau, general practitioners (GP), NGO providers and cancer services staff such as nurses, social workers, specialists and psychologists. Make your referral by contacting either the keyworker or clinical lead.

Meet the AYA Keyworker and Clinical Lead

Val Waugh

AYA Keyworker
027 269 9383

Lucy Pemberton


More about the Southern Serice

Flyers and Information

Stereotatic Radiotherapy This patient information booklet is designed to help you and your family gain a better understanding of Stereotactic Radiotherapy and its effects.

AYA Environment and what is on offer in Balclutha through Clutha Health First (CHF)

Overview and support for Balclutha AYAs comes from the Dunedin Public Hospital (DPH) AYA Key Worker where they closely link in with the staff and the patient, advising of treatment, concerns and often requests from staff to review plans or communicate with patient and family. All of the staff know the AYA Key Worker well which assists in a seamless transition from the Dunedin unit to our own.

Balclutha is an hour south of Dunedin and the Chemotherapy team is based at Clutha Health First (CHF) in South Otago. The team of District Nurses have an interest in chemotherapy and receive their training from DPH. CHF provides an integrated service where primary and secondary health care are under the same roof. The service covers a large area geographically and Balclutha is the ‘hub’ for a mainly farming community.

CHF have a recently revamped a purpose built area for chemotherapy and the design allows for a separate room in which Adolescents & Young Adults have their own private space attached to a larger area. This space is large enough for whānau and friends to support their loved one, something we promote. A generous donation from Unifone has provided the service with electronic tablets for entertainment and distraction throughout treatment and has been a real ‘hit’ for the younger recipients.

Another benefit of this private area is the close proximity to the kitchen and amenities. Whānau/ support people are encouraged to bring in treats and nibbles, although other food is provided.

Treatment time is negotiated with AYAs to suit their lifestyle. Due to the chemotherapy team being small, a great rapport is easily gained and provides a more one on one approach for continuity of care which is most beneficial. Treatment is provided mainly on Thursdays from 0900hrs to 1500hrs although another day may be arranged, dependent on workload. This model of care works well with a service closer to home for young people around the greater area.

Central Venous Access Device (CVAD) maintenance is provided by the DN team plus bloods prior to treatment either in the home or back at the unit.

Shared notes such as on the electronic medical record system via MOSAIQ combined with the DN progress notes, assists with contact to all the DN team if support is required outside therapy days, although the AYA Key Worker is available to the young patient and whānau via cell phone.

Heidi Watson

The Clinical Leader is responsible for providing clinical leadership and national oversight of the network .

Heidi is a passionate and experienced health professional with a strong clinical, education and leadership background. Her enthusiasm for, and commitment to youth health has focused on improving the outcomes of youth with cancer and chronic health conditions. Previously, Heidi held the position of AYA Cancer Nurse Specialist for Auckland District Health Board. Alongside her AYA clinical leadership role she holds a youth health academic position at the University of Auckland.