IWD 2019: We shine a spotlight on the City’s incredible women

There is no shortage of impressive high profile women on the Gold Coast, and if we had unlimited printing capacity, we’d love to do a bio on every single one of them (and let’s be honest, we probably have before). This year, we thought we’d have a chat with some of the talented and hardworking women of the Gold Coast that you may not have seen before in the media, and give them a bunch of interesting questions to choose from. Here’s our International Women’s Day tribute to thirteen of the GC’s kick-arse chicks… that you’ve probably never heard of.


The Oogars

The Oogars are a band consisting of four fabulous babes, who got together in 2018 after all separately dedicating the year to music. Emily, Tanisha, Gemma and Daniella have been playing together for the last 11 months, and have been gigging hard, building up a loyal following without releasing a single song (keep an ear to the ground, though).

You have ultimate global political power for one day. What is the first thing you change, and why?

We aren’t super invested in politics but in a perfect world with this opportunity. World hunger and climate change would definitely be at the forefront. World hunger is more than just shortage of food. Even in countries where food is abundant or can be easily grown, challenges like racial and political conflict, poverty and natural disasters prevent people from accessing it. So I guess we’d do our best to put a boss team together and globally address and resolve world hunger for good. In conjunction natural disasters are a massive cause of starvation around the world there are some pretty undeniable climate events occurring right now. Scientists have provided more than enough evidence to show how fast climate change has accelerated and we believe this should be the number 1 priority in the political world. We don’t want to see this incredible planet and its beings suffer any longer. 


Lara Frew

Gold Coast singer and songwriting sensation Lara Frew is chipping away at the global market of music making with her hooky tunes and international contacts. Having collaborated with acts from the UK, Canada, Sweden, Dubai, Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, France and Peru, Frew is introducing GC artists to the rest of the world.

Can you recall one clear “sliding doors” moment in your past, without which you wouldn’t be where you are in life right now?

A ‘sliding doors’ moment that had a big impact on me was when I didn’t get a songwriting scholarship to the US during University. My extra classes were songwriting based and I already had international collaborations up my sleeve. After a very long pity party, I released if I wanted this as much as I said I did, I couldn’t let rejection be the thing to prevent me from doing it. I also learnt to work hard without expecting anything in return and when there aren’t opportunities, make them.



Amela is a singer-songwriter, singing teacher and owner of music school Nightingale Music who has been writing music since she was 10 years old, and could only play two chords on the guitar. She’s recorded an EP in LA, been a finalist at the GCMAs and been sampled by Allday on his track ‘Codeine 17’.

Do have a major long-term life goal that you’re on your way to achieving right now?

Since I started teaching I’ve been hiding out a little bit in terms of releasing music and gigging, especially on the Gold Coast. A couple of months ago I had a huge epiphany that I really shouldn’t give up my dream of becoming a successful singer-songwriter (my own version of success) and that I ought to continue writing and releasing music. So, this year I hope to compile something together in the new direction of pop that I’m embarking on. Wish me luck and stay tuned!



Eleea is a force to be reckoned with. Since beginning her career at 15, Eleea has become an award winning singer-songwriter, released two albums, played numerous festivals, supported touring acts, and has performed and busked throughout Australia and internationally.

Do you identify as a feminist?

Absolutely! I think ‘the F word’ is still misinterpreted, but I view it simply as equality, achieved through giving women the same rights and opportunities as men. Personally, I try to embody that notion by being independent, motivated and not letting stereotypes or fear stop me. Whether that’s by taking off on long-term solo backpacking trips, or holding my own on stage with just my guitar, I don’t apologise for being a woman, I appreciate it and all that I’m able to do. I think it’s a very exciting and empowering time to be a woman.


Nicole Klein

Nicole Klein has been the Marketing and Communications Manager of Bleach* The Gold Coast Festival since July 2017, and delivered the marketing strategy and campaign which brought Bleach* at Festival 2018 to the world through the Commonwealth Games.

Is there one particular person in your life, without whom you wouldn’t be where you are in life right now?

It might be an obvious one but I couldn’t not mention my Mum for obvious reasons, but without her I wouldn’t be able to achieve what I’m currently doing given my husband works long hours.  I’m very fortunate enough to have my immediate family living on the Gold Coast which allows for a great support network.


Caitlin Francis

Twenty-four year old Caitlin Francis was a project coordinator for less than a year at Currumbin RSL before being snapped up to manage beloved live music venue Soundlounge. She’s been kicking goals there for just over a year now.

Is there one particular person in your life, without whom you wouldn’t be where you are in life right now?

My mother Vanessa – she is the emotional backbone to our family! Sounds like a cliché but the boundaries she gave me (and my family) growing up gave me discipline to get me to where I am today. She taught me the importance of being the best domesticated self I can be as a functioning adult. I swear every single time I need to move places, she puts her hand up with no questions asked and makes it a seamless process. She is easily the best cook ever, and I wish I didn’t take my lunch box days for granted haha – I miss those gourmet sandwiches, sliced fruit and her infamous caramel slice that she low-key brags about. Mumma V (as my siblings and I refer to her as) is much more than my mother, she is a confidante, the most selfless human and – I wouldn’t admit it before – but a best friend!

Describe your personality in six words:

Confident, Loyal, Honest, Intelligent, Empathetic, Creative


Megan Hayes

Megan Hayes is the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) teacher we all wish we had. Her commitment to student engagement at Mudgeeraba Creek State School has seen her earn outstanding accolades at regional, state and national levels including the Peter Doherty Award for Outstanding Teacher of STEM, the McIlwain Science Teacher of the Year, and a nomination by STAQ (the Science Teachers of QLD) for the National BHP Billiton Science Teacher of the Year 2017. In particular she has a passion to inspire female students to realise that they have the potential to be leaders in STEM-based careers. She’s also been featured in a short video celebrating community achievements.

You can have one high profile woman over for dinner, either past or present. Who is she and why?

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson – the woman whom the film “Hidden Figures” is based around. Katherine has just celebrated her 100th birthday. Katherine is a mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. manned spaceflights. During her 35-year career she earned a reputation for mastering complex manual calculations and helped the space agency pioneer the use of computers to perform the tasks. At the time, women were expected to quietly do their work and not ask questions. Katherine’s inquisitive disposition and brilliance in math earned her a spot on the team formed when President Kennedy announced his intentions to put a man on the moon. Her calculations were responsible for determining the trajectory of the first landing in 1969. It would be so inspirational to hear stories from such an amazing woman!


Isabella Schoonenberg

Isabella began working with the Gold Coast Film Festival as part of a Bond University internship in 2016 and returned as Festival Coordinator in 2017 after graduating Bond University with a Bachelor of Communications. In 2018, she became Festival Coordinator full-time year-round, allowing the Gold Coast Film Festival to present screenings and industry events throughout the year.

Can you recall one clear “sliding doors” moment in your past, without which you wouldn’t be where you are in life right now?

It was actually a sliding doors moment that led me to interning at the Gold Coast Film Festival. I had just started my second year of uni and the ad popped up for a marketing internship with the Gold Coast Film Festival. The position caught my eye but at the time I was only really interested in going into Public Relations and knew absolutely nothing about film! It was actually my mum who pushed me to apply and give it a go because it might turn out to be something I really enjoy. So I went to put my application in and it turns out I’d missed the deadline. Thankfully, the Bond University career development team kindly slipped in my application late and I got an interview, then the internship and three years on I’m still at the festival!

Describe your personality in six words:

Wannabe dog mum, current plant mum


Kate Harman

Kate Harman is a performer and choreographer and key member of Gold Coast’s award winning dance company The Farm. With the company she has created the works Cockfight, The Ninth Wave, and TIDE amongst others. Kate trained at QUT and has also worked as a collaborator and performer with La Boite Theatre Company, Dancenorth, PVCtanz (Germany), KLARA theatre (Switzerland), David Pledger and Ochre Dance Company. Her works have been presented nationally and internationally.

You have ultimate global political power for one day. What is the first thing you change, and why?

I would do whatever I could in one day to protect mother earth. For example in this country I would make it compulsory to have solar power fitted to every building and street light. If small villages in Germany manage to live off solar when they have a quarter of the sun we do, then I’m sure we can try it too. Taking care of our planet and making effective long lasting change is our biggest priority. We are all doing our bit but there needs to be change from the top or we are going nowhere. Put me there for a day and that’s what I would focus on trying to achieve. Oh and more money for the arts.


Ruth Della

Ruth Della was a Creative Director of SWELL Sculpture Festival, where for 11 years she produced large scale outdoor exhibitions, a range of public artworks and art programs. Most notably, she was instrumental in growing SWELL as Queensland’s largest outdoor exhibition attracting a significant audience and broadening the understanding of sculpture and artists’ practices. Currently she is the Curator of Gallery DownTown in Murwillumbah, an annexe to the Tweed Regional Gallery.

You can have one high profile woman over for dinner, either past or present. Who is she and why?

I would invite Dorothea Lange to dinner.  As a new mum, studying photography and in particular Dorothea Lange and her compelling image ‘Migrant Mother’ taken in 1936, Dorothea struck me as a courageous and determined woman. She built her career as a professional photographer from studio portraiture through to her famous documentary style. She was a strong woman, physically and emotionally, and ambitious when women weren’t supposed to be. Her photography and her strength as a woman resonated with me. She felt no bounds of a stereotypical role and worked toward her chosen career.  At the time, I was looking to switch toward a career that was creatively rewarding and I found Dorothea’s story a source of inspiration. I was empowered by her strength of character and tenacity to hit the road for weeks on end to document the pilgrimage of refugees during the Depression with such conviction and resolve to tell their story.


Tash Yates

Tash Yates is a Gold Coast renaissance woman. An Assistant Professor at Bond Uni, she continues to see patients as a GP at Mudgeeraba General Practice, assists in surgery at Gold Coast Private Hospital, raises four energetic and imaginative children with her husband, and just to mix things up, recently decided to write down some of the bedtime stories she makes up for her kids, and turn them into an original novel called ‘Rina’s Story’, which she is hoping to release this year. So soon we can add published author to the list!

Do have a major long-term life goal that you’re on your way to achieving right now?

My long-term life goal is to raise kind and courageous children who know that they are loved. No other career achievement would mean much if my children grew up feeling they came second, or that they were in the way somehow. In the past when I took maternity leave, patients would occasionally complain that I was deserting them. My reply was, and always will be: “You can always find another doctor, my children cannot find another mother”. Whether or not I’m achieving this goal is anyone’s guess. Check back with my kids in a few years…


Dana Lowrey

Dana Lowrey – aka DVNA – is quite fresh to the Gold Coast music scene. Although she’s been singing and songwriting her entire life, it was only about two years ago she started to take production seriously. YouTube tutorials, patience and persistence gave her the basic skills to construct a beat, and a sound production course at TAFE allowed gave her access to industry professionals. Since starting out she’s gained the support of triple j and Unearthed, been streamed over 420K times on Spotify alone and peaked at #3 on the Swedish electronic Music charts.

Can you recall one clear “sliding doors” moment in your past, without which you wouldn’t be where you are in life right now?

It would definitely be enrolling into my uni course. I met so many amazing musicians, teachers and friends that have encouraged, helped, nurtured and inspired this big dream of mine. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am without these people and this experience.

Do have a major long-term life goal that you’re on your way to achieving right now?

Yes! I’m absolutely crazy about music so I will work my butt off until it is my full time. For every big goal, I’ve got a thousand little goals. Definitely a lot of ‘goal’ festivals/ performances to tick off the list. Collaborations, accolades I’d even just like to be considered for. Maybe even some acting later down the track.


Mel De Regt

Mel is both the Music Director of popular southern hub Miami Marketta and an artist manager, via her agency Cult Club. She’s been helping to promote the Gold Coast as a live music destination for touring acts and supporting local musicians behind the scenes for years already, and intends to continue growing the live music scene on the Gold Coast for years to come.

You can have one high profile woman over for dinner, either past or present. Who is she and why?

The first lady of song – Ella Fitzgerald. As a female, and especially of a woman of colour living through the civil rights movement, she has broken through many barriers. She has won 13 Grammys, and recorded over 200 albums. This woman IS the definition of powerhouse in my eyes.  I would love to spend an evening talking about the time in which she grew up making music. There is so much tradition and romance about the music of 1950s that I just LOVE.

If you could click your fingers and be a man tomorrow, would you?

Ha ha! Hmm. My first thought is no. BUT if I could choose which man I was. Maybe, if I could be David Bowie, just so I could sit with his brain and see through his eyes.

Amela, Eleea, Nicole, Megan and Caitlin all shot by Leisen Standen, Lamp Photography. Tash Yates image by Emma Hines.

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