Meet Wingecarribee Shire’s Australia Day Ambassador, Mel Thomas

The hope of our Australia Day 2023 Ambassador, Mel Thomas, is that Wingecarribee Shire’s newest citizens find safety and belonging in community

Meet Mel Thomas – Commonwealth Bank Australian of the Day, Nominee for Australian of the Year, Game Changer-Woman of the Year, and our inspirational Ambassador for Australia Day 2023 in Berrima Village.

Passionate about moving beyond awareness of family violence, Mel advocates fearlessly for strong-hearted action to break the cycle at its grassroots. She has developed education programs informed by her own lived-experience, to level the playing field for victims, and promote safety in Australian communities.

“I was born into family violence, which opened the door to bullying at school, and suffering street violence in my late teens,” Mel says. “The day I walked into a martial arts class was life-changing. My eyes were opened to all of the things that were missing in my life, like accountability, real inner-strength, self-worth, and a sense of belonging.”

Belonging is what Berrima’s Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony is all about, and as someone empowering people to raise their standards, reclaim their self-respect, and champion their wellbeing, we couldn’t imagine a more inspiring Australia Day Ambassador.

“Feeling safe in our Shire matters to our residents, and Wingecarribee Shire Council is honoured to host someone so dedicated to promoting the safety and wellbeing of families, as our Australia Day 2023 Ambassador.” Said Lisa Miscamble, GM Wingecarribee Shire Council.

Mel is the driving force behind KYUP! (named after a martial arts power-shout, ‘Key-Up’). She workshops in schools, community groups, and businesses all over Australia, to close the confidence gap for victims of violence, and help survivors to deal pro-actively with past and present exposure.

“In martial arts, I found a way to stand up for myself, and speak up for others when necessary,” Mel says. “People need authentic strategies that will get them through situations that don’t feel right to them.”

When Australia went into lockdown, Mel turned her attention to victims of family and domestic violence, forced to work from home. She found that 65% of corporations lacked a domestic violence policy, and developed the Your Buddy Check education programs, to help people in business break the silence.

“On average, it takes someone up to seven attempts to leave an abusive relationship. That can mean 141 hours and up to $18,000, so It’s a two-billion dollar loss for Australian businesses.” Mel says.

Mel’s programs deliver awareness, policy, training and tech, to promote safer workplaces and protect the privacy an dignity of survivors, helping businesses to take a stand against violence, and contribute to breaking the cycle.

“Belonging matters to me and I can see there’s real community spirit in Berrima Village,” Mel says. “I’m all about helping people to find their voice, trust their intuition, and watch out for one another, and my hope for the families in this Citizenship Ceremony, is that they experience a genuine sense of belonging, in the community they are becoming a part of.”

Wingecarribee Shire Council – Media Release

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