21 Jul Mum and KYUP! Project founder Mel Thomas helps girls break the cycle of family violence
MARCH 23, 20163:11PM
THE arrival of a child brings many emotions — often happy ones. But when Sydney mum and Australian of the Day Mel Thomas cradled daughter Chloe for the first time seven years ago she wondered about her own childhood and growing up in a vastly different home environment.
“It’s a very lonely time when you’re a kid growing up with domestic violence; it’s kind of our normal — you don’t know any other way,” she says.
Today, 41 years later, the doting mother of Chloe, 7, and Emily, 3, Mel empowers those who face a similar situation and has been nominated as CommBank’s Australian of the Day – as part of an initiative that celebrates ordinary Australians who are really making a difference.
In 2013 Mel, who has 13 years of the Korean martial art of Hapkido under her belt, took it upon herself to help girls and women stand up for themselves through her KYUP! Project.
“Kyup is a word used in Korean martial arts which literally means ‘shout’,” says Mel. “We teach girls how to use the power of their voice, their shout, and physical skills to defend themselves and break cycles of violence.”
Mel holds KYUP workshops in community centres and has taken the program into schools across Australia and New Zealand.
“I truly believe there’s room for girls facing domestic violence to have a voice and I’m passionate about building a sense of community for them,” says Mel. “Every girl is precious and worth protecting.”