Mel Thomas is a writer, speaker, media commentator and mother of two girls with more than 15 years martial arts experience in Hapkido, the Korean art of self-defence.
Mel created KYUP! Project, a revolutionary self-worth and self-protection program to break the cycle of violence against women and children in response to a wave of assaults and reports of domestic violence in the media. Mel was awarded a grant with the Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Foundation in 2013 and held the title of Australian Hapkido Woman of the Year in 2005. Mel is a co-founder of the WMA (Women’s Martial Arts Network Australia), promoting growth and equality for girls and women in martial arts.
More than a martial artist, Mel is a champion for change. Born into domestic violence with a front row seat to unhealthy relationships, emotional, verbal and physical violence. The cycle of violence continued into her early relationships with aggressive, controlling and abusive partners.
Mel overcame adversity with enviable street smarts, resilience and courage and is known as a passionate advocate for kids living with family violence.
In 2016 Mel was a proud Commonwealth Bank Australian of the Day and an Australian of the Year Awards nominee in 2017.
Founder, CEO KYUP! Project
Julia van Graas
Turnaround Executive & Board Advisor l Partner at EY l Business resilience and turnaround services at EY
National Manager –
Workplace Super at
BT Financial Group
Johnson Winter & Slattery
Founder & Design Director
Managing Director & Founder