About Rachel

ep 60th

I am a Veterinarian, small business owner, Emergency Manager, small-holding land owner, and PhD candidate.

A former serving police officer, I qualified as a Radiographer at UniSA, and worked at Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide’s south, in general radiography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

I graduated with First Class Honours from Murdoch University in Perth, WA, in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, in 1999.

After two years as an employee I started my own veterinary practice, Homecare Vet to Pet Mobile Veterinary Services, servicing Adelaide’s southern suburbs. With a custom designed Mercedes Sprinter van, I see many animals and owners with special needs, ranging from clients with disabilities, families with young children and multiple animals, and dogs with behavioural problems too difficult to manage in a standard clinic setting.


With a career-long interest in Emergency Management, I founded South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management (SAVEM Inc.) in 2009 – a 100% volunteer agency of vets, vet nurses and others (see http://www.savem.org.au)

After the horrific Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, I investigated arrangements for animals in all hazards emergencies in South Australia, and found a large gap, particularly for companion animals and wildlife. With the support of Primary Industries and Regions SA and SAPOL, and after 18 months of planning, SAVEM became part of the South Australian State Emergency Management Plan under PIRSA’s Agriculture and Animal Services Functional Service.

With six years’ experience in the sector, I decided that my accumulated knowledge and experience needed to be put to broader community good use, and in 2014 I successfully applied for two scholarships:  one with the University of Western Sydney, and one with the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC). This allows me to build on my professional credentials in the sector by bringing this knowledge into the academic realm.

My aim with this project is to fill gaps in current knowledge about managing all hazards emergencies, to find new strategies and tactics to enhance existing communications and warnings systems, to build community well-being to be able to go beyond resilience alone, and achieve a state of post-traumatic growth.

Over time, my PhD research focus has been naturally (and expectedly) refined. With Emergency responders and animal owners (of any kind and any number of animals) as my research participant groups, my work concentrates on narrowing the awareness-action gap: cultivating fire-fitness as a social norm through public policy initiatives. See my AJEM paper for details.


Why do this?

Stuart Ellis, AM, CEO of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) signs off his emails with:

the purpose of life is a life of purpose.

Similarly, writer Ralph Waldo Emmerson penned,

The purpose of life …. is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived –  and lived well.

Nothing more to be said!

I live with my partner, environmental architect Emilis Prelgauskas, at our property in the Adelaide Hills, and in the Murray Mallee, where Emilis flies his vintage wooden glider, and curates his private gliding museum, see:




Emilis is also the leader of the Rebuild group of the Recovery Centre for the Sampson Flat fires of January 2015.

We have 2 greyhounds, 1 labrador, 2 Guernsey steers, 1 goat, 1 donkey and 6 chooks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s