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Community & Business

20 March, 2021

Local ladies urged to challenge for change

COMING from a small town doesn't mean you can't do big things, you never know what small action you take that may end up changing your life, and when the dream you have focused your life on for years doesn't work out, you can use experience gained along the way to turn it into something even better.

Lilykay Oliver (L) and her mother Uli Oliver (R) of Travel Experience Atherton, were inspired by the messages Megan Hendry of Yungaburra and Rubia Braun of Wondecla had for their audience at the Malanda Chamber of Commerce celebration of women last week.


COMING from a small town doesn't mean you can't do big things, you never know what small action you take that may end up changing your life, and when the dream you have focused your life on for years doesn't work out, you can use experience gained along the way to turn it into something even better. 

These were some of the inspiring messages shared by guest speakers at the Malanda Chamber of Commerce International Women's Day (IWD) event held at the Barron Valley Hotel last week. 

The sell-out event was strongly supported by Ignite Financial NQ and a dozen other local businesses, and addressed the 2021 IWD theme of “Choose to Challenge” in the quest for ‘Achieving an Equal Future in a Covid-19 World’.

Exceptionality knows no geographical boundaries and if you are wondering if girls from small towns really can go out there and change the world, Rubia Braun of Wondecla is all the inspiration you would need.

Graduating into a jobless environment after finishing her media degree, Rubia or "Rubes" as she is known by all, organised herself a one way ticket to a job as a sound recordist in India, only to find on arrival the job didn't exist. 

She might easily have fled back to Australia, but stayed on and created India's first mockumentary feature film that has been shown in 100 locations, on a shoestring $10,000 budget. 

She was then poached by the BBC, before a chance encounter at the Cannes Film Festival led her back to India to start her first co-founded company running a chain of boutique cinemas, distributing feature films and managing a production house, which now employs 35 staff. 

But it is her work with children that brings her the most joy. While in India, Ms Braun opened a school of creativity with 5000 students. 

She was elected Vice President of the Peace Crane Project – working with the United Nations on one of the largest kids art projects in the world. 

She is currently the Creative Director and Co-founder of Learning Yogi and through working with 18 others around the world, is delivering a groundbreaking edu-gaming start up that is improving child literacy. 

By bending the rules a little and using her strengths, Rubes, a self-described 'weirdo' who is easily bored and loves people, says her character “flaws” have been her point of difference and her greatest asset. 

“There is little in life you can control, but if you use the strengths that are unique to you, you only need your hands, your heart and your head to make a difference,” she said. 

Local triathlete, Megan Hendry, who has pulled on the green and gold to race for Australia multiple times now could never have dreamed a random decision to enter the Yungaburra Triathlon at the age of 25 would totally alter her life.

“I had a pair of joggers, a sports bra and a mountain bike and the race went past our house, so I couldn't really not have a go,” Miss Hendry said.

She has since raced at World Championship Events in the Sunshine Coast and Lausanne, Switzerland and has qualified for the 70.3 Ironman World Championship three times at the Gold Coast, in Nice, France and in Taupo, New Zealand. 

“Everything now revolves around swim, bike, run. It is no longer a hobby for me, it is what I do." 

With 15 hours of training a week on top of her day job, it means Ms Hendry misses a lot of events with friends, but said a great race makes it worthwhile, especially if she ends up on the podium. 

She hopes to soon combine her work and her passion by starting her own personal training business. To aspiring athletes Megan would say “taking that first step is the hardest part. Have a go at something new – it might not be your thing, or it might change everything.” 

Kirsty Nancarrow knew from a young age that all she wanted to do was become an ABC journalist. She dedicated her school years to achieving exceptional results and bypassed university to take up a cadetship with the Blacktown Guardian. 

She had accumulated 300 hours work experience with the ABC, before finally landing a position with them in Alice Springs and later in their Cairns newsroom. 

But, with their “If it bleeds, it leads” approach in the newsroom, Kirsty had to work in some of the nations most tragic and shocking crime and accident scenes, being forced to do live crosses for television, while every fibre of her being just wanted to help the victims and their families. 

Her confidence shot, she took time out to focus on her health, eventually volunteering in an earthquake-struck village, hoping that she could fill the emptiness and find joy through helping others. 

With a return to more of the same work an untenable situation, she established her own business, Regional Media Training in 2017. 

She has a growing list of clients and with Suzie Cray, has recently set up 'eMotion Video Training and Production, helping Far North Queensland organisations share their stories with their customers and clients. 

In her spare time she is writing an autobiography of the Cairns-based founder of Friends of Himalayan Children, Nepalese Australian, Som Tamang, as well as organising fund-raising treks to the Himalayas for libraries there and has never felt more happy, fulfilled or successful. 

So even when your dreams haven't quite worked out how you had planned, with a change of focus, you may be able to achieve something even more important.

MC Katrina Mellick, took the opportunity to remind guests that even though we are living in the best time in history for women, there are still 87,000 women killed a year worldwide, mostly by their partners or family members, a 14% gender pay gap remained in the Australian workforce, and 35% of our women were experiencing sexual or domestic violence. 

“We should celebrate how far we've come, but focus on how far we have to go,” she said.


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