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International Women’s Day spotlight: Phyllis Ricky

Image of Phyllis. The Lutheran Care logo appears in the bottom right hand corner.

International Women’s Day spotlight: Phyllis Ricky

When speaking about the inspirational women in her life, it is heart-warming to hear Phyllis Ricky talking about her grandmother and mother, and how they helped shape her and the person she is today.  

The Warlpiri (Wawl·puh·ree) and Warramungu (Worrah-mong-goo) woman is one of our Financial Capability Workers based at our Alice Springs office, where she assists clients with money management skills, casework, financial literacy group education and helps them make better financial decisions for themselves moving forward. 

Growing up in Tennant Creek, Phyllis said both her mother and grandmother were instrumental in her upbringing and learning about her culture.  

“My mother is my greatest inspiration in my life and still is for the example she’s set out for me. She’s a great role model,” Phyllis said.  

“Also, as a young girl, we had to live in and learn from our grandmas. I learnt so much such as talking in Warrumungu language and understanding various things in life.” 

Outside of work, Phyllis is a mother to eight children, including one adopted child, and has 20 grandchildren. She often welcomes her children’s friends into her home when they need extra support, providing them with food and safe place to sleep.   

“I love looking after one of my grandsons, doing shopping and love doing housework, cooking and having quality time with family,” Phyllis said.  

“In the future, I hope to retire back in my community of Tennant Creek and my mother’s homeland Karlinjarri.  

“I also want to help my grandchildren by teaching them about our language, culture, identity, life skills and being respectful both ways. Most importantly, being a good role model to young ones and other people in the community.” 

Phyllis has been working at Lutheran Care for just over two years and travels out regularly to communities, some up to 700kms away from the town centre, to help people with financial health and wellbeing. Previously Phyllis worked as a Family Engagement Officer at a childcare centre.  

Described as oozing calmness and joy, someone that you immediately want to sit down and have a yarn with, she is passionate about supporting and empowering people in her community to build their skills to focus on their financial wellbeing that can positively impact their and their communities lives now and in the future. 

Since moving to Lutheran Care, she is continuing to make a positive difference in the lives of others, working predominately with local people living in the communities around Alice Springs. For the past year Phyllis has also visited people who are undertaking prison sentences, to provide support and answer questions regarding their current and future financial wellbeing. 

Speaking about the leading problems affecting women in these communities, Phyllis said it came down to multiple factors.  

“The women are left with utility bills, grocery shopping and cooking skills,” she said.  

“They also have to take care of their children and other family member’s children, health issues, housing, overcrowding and transport getting to places. 

“I think all Aboriginal communities and Community Living Areas in a town should have a building or shed, one for men and one for women. Where elderly people with the young and mature-aged go to learn and are taught about two-way respect, being responsible for oneself and family life skills.  

“This could be learning how to look, collecting bush medicines, bush food and how to make and cook it, and to conduct oneself wherever they are or where they go.  

“Also encourage people to be involved in a healthy, respectful way in playing any types of sports, cultural events, learning about identity, kinship system and learning about the languages spoken in that community and surrounding areas.” 

Her advice for women and other Aboriginal woman specifically is to believe in yourself and never give up on your hopes and dreams.  

“Make what is valuable important in your life,” Phyllis said.  

“Treat others the way you want to be treated, show that you care, be kind and respectful, and work hard at what you do. Never let anything bring you down.”