As a survivor of childhood domestic violence and both ‘victim and perpetrator’ of teen bullying, Mel overcame adversity with enviable street smarts, resilience and courage. Now looking to reach more young people with her work, we were engaged to amplify her powerful message even further.

The challenge

Mel Thomas is a woman on a mission to break the cycle of violence against women and children in Australia. Empowering young people to value and champion their own wellbeing whilst learning vital self defence skills form her two-pronged approach.

Since founding the KYUP! Project, more than 10,000 students and young women have participated in her violence prevention education programs. Formerly an ambassador for Layne Beachley’s Aim for the Stars Foundation, and chosen as 2016 Commonwealth Bank ‘Australian of the day’ Mel’s courage and dedication to turning the tide on domestic violence was well recognised.

Now she is looking to reach more young people with her work.

The solution

We knew the key to KYUP!’s success would be sharing Mel’s moving story on a national platform, to ensure her story inspired more young people to take a stand against domestic violence. As a black-belt martial artist, passionate speaker and published writer, Mel is a storyteller’s dream!

We set about building strong relationships with Cosmopolitan’s feature team and entered Mel in the ‘Game Changer of the Year’ category in the magazine’s Women of the Year Awards. This campaign involved collating all of her work since 2013 in a multimedia award submission celebrating her as the inspiring leader that she is.

When the news agenda showed that women were tragically still being killed, assaulted and abused by domestic partners, we worked with Mel on penning passionate opinion pieces and pitched them to Sydney’s media. Publicising the workshops she led in areas across Australia was a priority too, targeting regional press to make sure families knew their children had access to the violence prevention workshops.

The outcome

We are proud to have secured a number of high profile media opportunities for Mel and KYUP! – from a profile in Marie Claire and Daily Telegraph article, to a Business Chicks magazine double spread and even a special segment on SBS telling her story in full.


Cosmopolitan magazine did indeed name Mel Thomas ‘Game Changer of the year’ in 2018. As well as the accolade in itself, she was given the opportunity to speak at their high-profile awards celebration, influencing Australia’s top women in the not-for-profit space. Her story and work were featured in a double page spread in the last ever issue of Cosmopolitan magazine before it closed its doors. The award put Mel on the map as a woman bringing about important social change in Sydney.


“I loved working with the team at ImpactInstitute. Publicists and management were passionate about KYUP! Project and our mission to break the cycle of domestic violence at a grassroots level. As a start-up not-for-profit, I needed as much help as possible to get the message out there. ImpactInstitute went above and beyond with authentic, creative ideas such as our ‘Champion Girl Challenge’ a successful campaign that was the cornerstone of our fundraising efforts.”

— Mel Thomas, Founder & CEO
KYUP! Project