I rise to acknowledge an inspiring community leader in my own electorate, Rachael Natoli, who is the founder and CEO of the Lokahi Foundation, an organisation that is empowering women in the eastern suburbs to reclaim their lives after domestic violence. Rachael formed the Lokahi Foundation in 2016 after leaving a long-term abusive relationship. Her story is, sadly, a familiar one for too many women. She was subjected to physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse by her partner. Rachael told me that she couldn't have survived the stress and difficulty of leaving without the support of her caseworker who went above and beyond in the level of care she provided. Rachael said that, if everyone had a caseworker like hers, more domestic violence victims would leave for good and rebuild their lives independently. And so the idea for the Lokahi Foundation was born.
Last month, together with Rachael, I helped celebrate the official opening for Lokahi in a space that will be a hub to support victims-survivors in the eastern suburbs. I was so pleased to help Rachael secure almost $180,000 of federal government funding to expand their services. I first met Rachael a few years ago and was struck immediately by her warmth, passion, strength and ambition. Her success in turning Lokahi from a vision into a reality is a reflection on what can be achieved when victims-survivors are fully supported and empowered to move forward with their lives. I thank Rachael and the entire team for their leadership, as the work they are doing will no doubt change lives.