Pursuit: Self Defence and Personal Safety Awareness. Melanie is the Founder of the KYUP! Project a self defence initiative for Aussie Kids.
Melanie Thomas is a writer, speaker, commentator and self defence educator with 13 years martial arts experience in Hapkido, the Korean art of self defence.
With a compelling story as both victim and instigator of teenage bullying, Melanie has risen above dramatic circumstances of domestic abuse and poor choices as a younger woman to become an advocate for self defence and self awareness.
As a mother of two young girls, Mel is passionate and committed to empowering young people through the distinction of choice when it comes to personal safety and access to self defence.
When did you start?
KYUP! was started in 2012 with help from individuals in the martial arts community, local businesses, teachers and members of the community. I joined the Australian Hapkido Association in the late 90's and I also draw on my own 'real life' experiences of defending myself as a younger woman and child.
Career highlight or biggest achievement?
I’m proud of my martial arts journey and self-defence training and was awarded Hapkido Woman on the Year 2005. Going back to school at age 30 and achieving Dux was also a worthy accomplishment however, my biggest and proudest achievements are my two girls – Chloe Joy and Emilie.
What is your dream?
My dream is for every Aussie kid to have access to personal safety awareness and self-defence without prejudice. In it’s latest report The Australian Institute of Crime reported alarming trends in youth violence and assaults. Persons aged 15–19 years had the highest rate of offending of any age group in 2010. Juveniles offended at rates that exceeded that of adults, a trend consistent with the past 13 years. Violence, bullying, domestic abuse and alcohol and drug related assault are a regular part of life for far too many kids. What’s missing in Australia is a universal approach to personal safety and an access to self defence. Some schools have programs and some schools don’t. Some schools have great programs while others are lack lustre. Wouldn't it be great if everyone had access to the same empowering message and effective techniques?
Who or what have inspired you?
KYUP! was inspired by a meeting with a brave young woman who shared her story of abuse and bullying. She encouraged me to share my experience and practical tips with her and her friends. These humble beginnings snowballed into the possibility of creating an Australia wide initiative and reaching out to ‘everyday’ kids just like her. I have been inspired by all of the teachers and mentors throughout my life even though I didn't always realise it at the time.
Who's your hero?
My mum fought hard to raise my sister and I under the most challenging circumstances and I admire her commitment and love and grace through unspeakable adversity. My mum is my hero and just quietly her roast was also a serious contender for my favourite food.
Any other special talents?
I'm known as the go-to-girl of party planning and I love hosting fun events. I enjoy expressing myself through writing and story telling and might have been a journalist in another life but for now I dedicate my story telling to my appreciative three year old daughter.
Just recently I discovered Spotify and I’m addicted to the variety and I marvel at the technology! In the last hour I have listened to Birdy, an old Supertramp track, Bruno Mars and Fleetwood Mac. I love daggy old music and fresh new music and I tune in everyday.
Top Gun. Classic Tom Cruise with buff boys playing beach volleyball, fighter jets and cheesy soundtrack. Always makes me smile. What’s not to like?
I adore the complete works of Oscar Wilde's and have read his collection of play's and short stories time and again since I was a little girl. I can’t wait to read The Happy Prince and The Nightingale and the Rose to my daughters when they are old enough.
Favourite TV Show?
Hubby's bacon and eggs.
How the grant will help you/how will you use the money?
The grant will help to produce marketing materials for schools and assist in funding the film component. The grant is hugely inspiring and I’m so honoured to be successful and associated with Layne and Aim for the Stars!
Last words: Quote or Motto you live by?
When you sit on the fence you get splinters.