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International Women’s Day spotlight: Rachael Swan

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

International Women’s Day spotlight: Rachael Swan

As the first point of contact for clients coming into our Alice Springs office, Rachael Swan has the important role of making sure some the region’s most vulnerable people are pointed in the right direction to get the support they need.  

The Pertame woman is the first friendly face clients come in to see as they walk through Lutheran Care’s doors as the Receptionist/Administration Officer at our Central Australia location. Her immediate warmth and welcoming nature are often a relief for our clients, with many remarking that Rachael makes them feel comfortable sitting down, sharing their story and asking for support. 

Rachael has been with us since 2009 when we opened our Alice Springs office. Taking some time away, Rachael rejoined Lutheran Care three years ago, and said it is the rewarding work of helping others that keeps her motivated and driven.   

“Lutheran Care is a good organisation to work for and I enjoy working with and supporting vulnerable people in hardship,” Rachael said.  

“An example of this was when I won a grant to purchase a laptop, so I could learn how to use a computer and teach others.  

“The end goal was to teach other Indigenous women how to manage their finances and to look after their families, which I did in workshops with Lutheran Care’s Financial Wellbeing program.” 

Rachael speaks both Southern Aranda and Luritja, which is vital when communicating with clients seeking assistance in Alice Springs.  

She said more financial literacy education and life skills courses are needed to combat issues women face in the region.  

“The biggest program affecting women at the moment is the cost of living, plus finding safe accommodation for themselves and their families,” Rachael said.  

Outside of work, Rachael is also a talented artist and painted Lutheran Care’s Reconciliation Action Plan artwork in 2019. The mural is currently displayed in the Alice Springs office as well as located at Lutheran Care’s head office at Sefton Park and represents Lutheran Care’s service footprint in Central Australia.  

Rachael said her interest in painting started at a young age and her talent progressed further when she joined a local arts group.  

“I was a founding member of Pertame Arts and Crafts, which started off as a playgroup for mothers and children, and then we started doing arts and crafts together,” she said.  

“I can’t remember how long it has been since I started painting, but I remember listening to stories from Elders and drawing in the sand.” 

Rachael also enjoys gardening, sewing and sitting down to talk with family in her free time. She said her grandma, mother and aunts are all the most inspirational women in her life. 

“They are very strong, independent women.” 

This International Women’s Day, Rachael reflected on the 2018 NAIDOC theme, ‘Because of Her we Can’, which continues to resonate with her today as she remembers the women who have come before her, those she grew up with and those she now works with. 

As a local Elder, Rachael’s warmth, courage and knowledge is an inspiration to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young women and more broadly to Lutheran Care staff and the wider community.