We engage with women, communities, service providers and government to promote and enhance the health and wellbeing of women across the Gippsland area


Congratulations Rachel!

Congratulations Rachel!

Rachel celebrates 20 years of volunteer work with Gippsland Women’s Health


After attending a LifeSkills course with Gippsland Women’s Health (GWH) in 1996, Rachel Smith approached the organisation and asked if she could volunteer in the Sale office. Twenty years on, Rachel cannot believe that she is still volunteering with GWH, assisting with reception and administration tasks.

Rachel, who has experienced poor eyesight from a very early age, started wearing glasses from the age of seven. With her night vision being particularly affected, she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, which causes visual impairment. In 2005, Rachel received her first guide dog called Odessa, who was her constant companion for almost six years. Odessa was then followed by Orag, but unfortunately this match was not suitable and Orag was returned for further training. Since 2014, Rachel has been paired with Sable, who sits on duty at the reception desk at GWH while Rachel is working, but is off duty in the staff room during morning tea where she enjoys the attention of other staff members.

Rachel has seen major changes over the years, particularly in the area of technology. When Rachel’s writing deteriorated due to her reduced vision, she started emailing messages to other staff. She affectionately recalls working on a laptop, known as ‘Rachel’s laptop’, which had a broken screen. Luckily the cracks didn’t prevent her from using the laptop to send emails! With a technology upgrade at GWH, a new laptop was purchased with a program called JAWS, a computer screen reader program that reads written words and content out aloud to enable visually impaired users to access all functions of a computer. Rachel has her own email address at GWH and JAWS allows her to check her emails without assistance. Combined with a headphone set connected to the telephone, the job of taking messages has become a lot easier. Rachel also has the job of newsletter mail outs and has stuffed thousands upon thousands of newsletters into envelopes to be delivered all over Gippsland.

Rachel enjoys the work, the staff and the company, and Gippsland Women’s Health is indebted to Rachel for the many invaluable hours she has provided to the organisation.

Gippsland Women’s Health would like to acknowledge Rachel’s dedication to the organisation and the contributions she has made over the past twenty years.

Acting CEO Selena Gillham said:

“Twenty years in any position is a milestone. For Rachel to have volunteered for us for twenty years is a fantastic achievement not only for her personally but for the contribution she has made to the organisation.”

From all of us. Thanks Rachel!

Posted on 27 April 2017

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