Fearless Females Of Essendon Fields 2022

In celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD), we shine a spotlight on the contribution which successful women at Essendon Fields are making to their profession and to our community. Here are four stories to inspire young women to seize their dreams.

Senator Kimberley Kitching

Victorian Senator Kimberley Kitching has been a member of the Essendon Fields community for more than two years, having moved her electoral office to the precinct in 2019. The move has been a great success, both personally and professionally, as the surrounding cafes and restaurants also give her an opportunity to combine meetings with great coffee or lunch. “I love it,’’ she says about being based at Essendon Fields.

Senator Kitching first became a Senator for the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in November 2016. For the former lawyer, the election to the Senate was the culmination of years of being involved in Labor politics and an opportunity to pursue her interests on both the national and global stage.

“Before I entered the Senate I was privileged to be a Vice President of the Victorian Branch of the ALP. I was also a senior adviser to the Treasurer of Victoria, and to the Victorian Minister for Industry, Trade, Major Projects and Information Technology as well as being a Melbourne City Councillor, and the General Manager of the Health Workers’ Union in Victoria. That means I’ve had a very interesting and varied career,’’ she says.

Since joining Federal Parliament, Senator Kitching has risen up the ranks to now hold some very senior positions.

“In May 2019, I was promoted to one of the four leaders in the Senate for the ALP as Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate.  I am currently serving as Shadow Assistant Minister for Government Services and the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee. I am also a member of other committees including the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties and the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit. What that means, on top of my responsibilities as a Senator for Victoria, is I have a full workload, but that’s what you sign up for a Senator,’’ she said.

“Recently, I have been focused on issues of foreign affairs and human rights and I have been a regular commentator in local and international regrading such issues. I have been particularly passionate about the adoption of Magnitsky-style legislation in Australia, which are targeted sanctions that we have recently put in place against Russian politicians. Given the recent tragedy of the Russian invasion of Ukraine this is even more relevant,’’ she said.

“What I love about being a Senator is I get to meet interesting people. After the Paralympics, Bill Shorten, the Shadow Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and I met some of the successful Paralympians at Friction Café in Essendon Fields! It was a great morning tea,’’ she said.

On International Women’s Day, Senator Kitching has some simple advice for the next generation of female leaders: “Have a strong heart, show compassion and always display a commitment to our country.’’


Terina Davies, Group Marketing and Administrative Manager, Mr McCracken

Terina loves her work at Essendon Fields. As Group Marketing and Administrative Manager at Mr McCracken, her days are never the same.

“Mr McCracken at Essendon Fields is one of four hospitality venues under the Melbourne Hospitality People umbrella. I oversee a head office team of eight of the most brilliant, dynamic and innovative women I’ve ever worked with. My job is to ensure that they have everything they need to be able to perform as event co-ordinators,’’ she said.

“With so much creativity and innovation within the team, my days are usually centralised around ensuring that all their great ideas and opportunities for events have the right structure, helping their events develop and come to fruition. Behind every great event is a great excel spreadsheet,’’ according to Terina.

“I enjoy being part of an all-female team. It’s pure joy to step into the office every day knowing that everyone is a master of their craft, and that their goal at any given moment is to find a way to say yes. The environment is so supportive and creative.’’

Terina has been working at Essendon Fields for 18 months and really enjoys the environment. The success of Mr McCracken, despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, brings with it its own satisfaction.

Given Terina’s experience, she has some great advice for young women entering the hospitality industry.

“Females disproportionately suffer from imposter-syndrome. After working in the industry for 26 years, across the globe, in everything from three Michelin star restaurants to Chinese takeaway shops and luxury hotels, I still suffer from it. The one thing that will always bring me confidence is education. So my advice is to educate yourself, take on board (good) advice and be open to every new opportunity,’’ she says.

“For example, I was sick of being spoken down to about wine. It’s such a divisive topic. So, I went out, got qualified, made wine, worked as a sommelier and exposed to myself to as much of the wine world as possible. I will never be an expert but I no longer have to accept a condescending conversation about the differences between a left-bank or right-bank Bordeaux and I’m always happy to order the wine, thank you!’’


Alex Thorsen, Instructor & Safety Manager, Melbourne Heli

Alex loves being able to fly and believes that any young girl interested in becoming a helicopter or aircraft pilot should pursue their dreams.

Having worked at Melbourne Heli for five years now at Essendon Fields, Alex really enjoys the working environment.

I’m an instructor with Melbourne Heli as well as their Safety Manager, although I’ve now had to take a step back from flying duties since I’m expecting a little girl in mid-April! My normal day is to rock up at work before the first student arrives and ensure your helicopter is ready and safe for flying. Then we brief the student on the lesson of the day, go out and fly, come back and then debrief. On a good day I might  have four flights and sometimes we do the odd scenic or winery tour, which is always fun to break up the routine a bit,’’ she said.

“I’m privileged enough to be able to fly. Growing up, I thought only superheroes could do that! Other than flying, I think the second thing I love the most about my job is meeting people from all walks of life who are all here to do one thing – to fly a helicopter,’’ according to Alex.

“Aviation brings together all different sorts of people. We get people from corporate jobs, CEOs, tradies, high school students and fixed pilots, to name a few, who come through and are all keen to learn. They’re thrust into an environment where everything is new and needs to be learnt. Flying a helicopter doesn’t come naturally but with practice, anyone can do it.’’

Alex believes that women in the aviation industry are still breaking through glass ceilings. Her advice to any young girl wanting to be a pilot is straight forward: “Please don’t be shy and please don’t think that you can’t do it because you can.’’

“We had a group of school kids come through last year and one of the teachers approached me after the tour and said: “One of my eight year olds saw you, pulled my sleeve and whispered: ‘I didn’t know girls could be pilots’. In the modern age that’s outrageous. All women in the industry want to help each other out. We even have a group called the Whirly Girls created specifically to bring female helicopter pilots together. There are scholarships out there for women who want to fly. You just need to network and put yourself out there and say hello. We don’t bite.’’


Lisa Verlander, Owner & Manager, Skin Scentual Skin & Laser Clinic

Lisa has seen a transformation of her surroundings during her 11 years at Skin Scentual based at Essendon Fields, but one thing has never changed – seeing satisfied customers after a treatment and what it means to them.

“My current role is to manage a team of beauty and skin therapists and cosmetic nurses, which includes managing the clinic, as well as working with clients daily. I specialise in cosmetic tattooing and skin and laser treatments,’’ she said.

“I love to achieve significant results for my clients and love leading my team”.

On International Women’s Day, Lisa has some simple advice for future generations of women looking to get into your industry: “I would recommend any aspiring therapist to be diverse in their skills, learn all aspects of beauty therapy to see what they love and then specialise in a specific one or two treatments.’’


International Women’s Day provides a perfect opportunity to fundraise for female-focused charities, help raise their visibility, and amplify their awareness raising efforts. For more information on some fantastic female-focused charities and to donate please visit www.internationalwomensday.com/Fundraising.