Wednesday 22 Nov 2017

Interview with Rachna Bowman, South East Community Links

Please tell us about your background.

I came to Australia in 2001 to do my Masters in Business from Swinburne University, I decided to stay on as I fell in love with Australia and an Australian man - who I married. My first real job in Australia was with ANZ Bank and I stayed there for 8.5 yrs doing various roles.


What motivated you to pursue financial counselling?

While working at ANZ, I participated in the community giving programme and had an opportunity to work in the Kitchen at Grey Street in St Kilda. When I walked out of there I felt a sense of accomplishment by giving back to the community and for once did not feel tired after a hard day’s work.

I had my first child and decided it was time to change my career and started exploring my options. I happened to just fall into this wonderful and challenging world of financial counselling, thinking I could use my banking skills to do budgets! I soon realised I was so wrong and started to understand the complexity of the work, structural barriers, social inequalities and the power imbalances money can be used to perpetrate and haven’t looked back.


What are the unique aspects of your role or the area you work in?

I have the privilege of working with clients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and being able to use my language skills. The community SECL serves is among the most diverse in Victoria, with over 50 languages spoken in the City of Greater Dandenong alone.

We work with communities to breakdown structural and systemic barriers experienced by its members with low or limited English and look to build capacity of our community and demystify money.

At SECL we have a big team of financial counsellors and it is a great opportunity to learn and support each other while sharing in each others successes and challenges.


What has been your proudest achievement to date?

I feel my that my greatest professional accomplishment has been in supporting Sayema, to tell her story at the annual Financial & Consumer Rights Council conference in September 2016.

Sayema’s Story was powerful for financial counsellors and industry representatives present and has led to Sayema receiving South East Community Links ‘Change Maker’ award for 2016


What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the financial counselling sector?

Oh where do I start with this one! There is the issue of increasing complexity, capacity of financial counsellors to keep up with increased demand without compromising quality over quantity, job insecurity due to funding, keeping up with the knowledge needed to remain practice current, balancing work and life…I could go on, but I think I better stop here!


What has been the most valuable resource or advice you’ve received?

There are a few of them actually and in my practice I live by these:

“If you never try, you never get”

“Don’t ever give up”

“The client’s situation didn’t occur overnight, so it’s ok to take time to unravel things and work with them to develop a plan”

AND it's ok to drink wine!


And now the easy questions:

What TV show are you currently watching?

The Designated Survivor


What is your Favourite podcast?

The Dollop