Meet a member – Fiona Tonkin

20 March 2018

Eliza Hughes

Eliza is the Communications and Marketing Officer at YWCA Canberra

This article is part of our member profile series. Our members tell us that one of the things they love about being part of our community is getting to know like-minded women. So, each month, we’ll feature an interview with a member, so you can get to know each other a little better. Today, meet Fiona Tonkin.  

This photo was taken at Glebe park in 1995 by YWCA Canberra member Tracey Smith, as part of the ‘Young Mums are Great Mums’ campaign.

You in a nutshell?

Very devoted wife, mother of twin 24 year old boys and a daughter, and a registered carer of my parents. I think my circle would describe me as a pretty animated/bubbly character with a healthy sense of humour, and very determined. For the past eighteen years, I have had a wonderful career in the aviation industry.

What’s on your playlist?
Currently The Beatles. I had the great fortune of partying in Beatles territory (Liverpool, UK) recently. But on a feminist note, I can’t go past Ann Wilson’s vocals (from the band Heart).

People would be surprised if they knew…
That I lived below the poverty line in an ACT housing commission flat with chronically ill twins.

What are you reading at the moment?
How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnagie. I wanted to understand what all the fuss was about, and so far it is failing to disappoint.

What was your highlight of the past year?
I spent a month in the UK and it was an experience like no other. Edinburgh was magical.

Who is your feminist hero?
My friend Lyn, who rebuilt her life after a devastating setback. She empowers other women to feel confident and back themselves when faced with difficult situations. Tracey, Mel, Donna and Rebecca from the Y (in the late 90’s) deserve a mention for giving me the tools to make big changes in my life.

What’s an achievement you’re proud of?
Achieving so much more than I ever thought possible both personally and professionally. Like Led Zeppelin’s lyrics in Stairway to Heaven ‘to be a rock and not to roll’, the biggest challenge was creating and setting my own path.

Why did you join the Y?
YWCA Canberra entered my life the day after giving birth to premature twins, and through their young parents program, I was supported for the next four years. Having support from the Y turned what could have been traumatic experiences into positive ones. I see myself as a YWCA Canberra success story, and would like to give something back by supporting their programs.

Who inspires you?
My always kind and supportive husband Frank, Dr Claire, an aviation safety expert at work who can just do everything and has a lovely smile, my mum for having a new lease on life at 85(!), and all the wonderful women from the Y that helped me to reshape a new self concept.

What’s the change you want to see in the world?
A safer and more charitable world. No matter what your situation, if we could strive for these things we would see great change.

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One response to “Meet a member – Fiona Tonkin”

  1. Donna Leigh Holden says:

    There is nothing like your past life finding you in the future. It is really special to hear 24 years on that the Young Mum’s Group has contributed so positively to Fiona’s pathway is a joy … I’d love to hear more! Congrats to Fiona for making the most of everything she has and for giving back – this is what it is and always was all about!