Our team

SWAMS staff are united by the drive and passion to provide culturally safe, accessible and holistic health care to the Aboriginal people of the South West.

As an organisation, we continue to attract and employ culturally appropriate and professional staff members. SWAMS employs over 100 staff members including specialist Aboriginal Health Practitioners, Dietitians, Nurses, Midwives, Mental Health workers and Social Workers and because of this, we are able to provide a large and diverse range of services to the community.

In addition to this, we strive to create Aboriginal career pathways and opportunities across the sector and maintain a positive percentage of ATSI employees.

Our CEO – Lesley Nelson

Lesley Nelson is a proud Noongar woman from the Balladong and Whadjuk clans and is a mother to three sons and a daughter.

She holds over 25 years’ experience in various executive leadership roles within the Aboriginal health sector, the most recent being her current role as CEO of the South West Aboriginal Medical Service.

Lesley’s bias for innovation and action is strengthened with post graduate qualifications in Business and Epidemiology. This unique skill set has seen her champion the expansion of accessible primary health services for Aboriginal communities living in the state’s vast South West region.

Her drive to influence, collaborate and engage across the sector, has directly contributed to greater health outcomes for Aboriginal people living in the region.

Lesley brings a wealth of strategic governance experience to several Board director positions, including the National Aboriginal Community Control Health Organisation, Business SouthWest, Bunbury Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Breakaway Aboriginal Corporation.  She also chairs the Aboriginal Health Council WA CEO’s Network and the South West Aboriginal Health Planning Forum.

In 2016, Lesley received the NAIDOC Community Female Award in recognition for her remarkable contribution to improving the lives of people in her community and beyond, promoting Indigenous issues and showing excellence in her field.

In 2018, Lesley was awarded with a Chief Executive Women (CEW) scholarship to attend the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School. This scholarship enabled Lesley to engage in intellectual dialogue at an international level with leadership experts on issues relating to health, research and education, before applying this knowledge to improve health outcomes in the Indigenous community in Australia. Lesley has also undertaken a Women’s Executive Leadership Program within the Graduate Business School at Stanford University in San Francisco.

Lesley’s work to date has laid down solid foundations for a strong and sustainable organisation – including growing SWAMS’ capacity at remarkable speed, and developing a work force capable of supporting SWAMS’ strategic goals.


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