|Southern Cancer Network project manager Rachael Crombie enjoys the frosty scenery in beautiful Central Otago.|
Rachael Crombie’s connection with the South Island was one of the attractions of her project manager role, resulting in a move from Wellington to join the Southern Cancer Network in Christchurch last year. “I have family in South Canterbury and Golden Bay; and I also studied physiotherapy at Otago University – so I feel quite connected to the south,” she says.
Rachael’s career started as a physiotherapist at Masterton Hospital, where she was born, and she’s since lived and worked in several places around New Zealand and overseas. “This role seemed a fantastic opportunity to bring together my study and experience around supportive care – palliative care, rehabilitation and public health.”
Rachael has worked across a range of health and education settings during her career, including as a mobility instructor for the Blind Foundation, and managing and coordinating projects at Hospice New Zealand. “Cancer affects people in all parts of their lives and this SCN role provides an opportunity to work with DHBs, and a wide range of organisations that support patients with cancer and their whānau in the community. Although the issues being tackled are often complex, a strong patient and whānau centred approach is evident when talking to health professionals across the South Island.”
Prior to making the decision to move south, Rachael provided project support to the development of a national contract through another DHB regional alliance, TAS. While her parents, sister and two nephews still live in Wellington, she visits as often as possible and is enjoying hosting family and friends’ visits to Christchurch. “I enjoy exploring New Zealand, and I feel lucky to be able to explore the South Island again. Some recent highlights have included curling in Naseby, the Gold Guitars in Gore and visiting the Kura Tāwhiti conservation area. I’ve also done a bit of tramping in the hills around Canterbury – I thought Wellington had hills, but it’s a whole new level in Canterbury!”
Based at the South Island Alliance Programme Office (SIAPO), Rachael’s role includes supporting and integrating the work and perspectives of Te Waipounamu Māori Leadership Group for Cancer and and South Island Cancer Consumer Group, as well as supporting service development initiatives to improve health outcomes for cancer patients and their whānau. “Given the barriers the South Island faces due to its large geographical spread, there is some innovative work that’s being done to support understanding and access to services, when and where people need it.”