Updated: Jan 13
✦ An interview with Christina Chia
Australia has a "Climate of Trust"
Australia is a country renowned and celebrated for its multiculturalism and diversity. Descendants from numerous countries over the years have emigrated to Aussie shores to create a melting pot of culture, heritage and tradition. Take a stroll through the neighbourhood of a typical Australian city and you will be embraced by a wide range of cultural references and touch-points from all over the world.
It’s this far-reaching cultural mix that makes life Down Under so appealing to so many and one of the reasons Australia is regarded as a benchmark nation in regards to diversity, difference and acceptance.
And it is exactly this that Christina Chia believes constitutes all that is great about Australia and being Australian.
“Being Australian for me is about wholly embracing and celebrating diversity,” she tells us. “Whatever your background, religious or cultural beliefs and preferences, we should welcome one and all and celebrate the advantages that such a broad tapestry provides our society. Learning about difference, be it language, cultural traditions, religious beliefs or even cuisine, this is what makes us a stronger and more complete collective, a more accepting and understanding community.”
Originally from Malaysia, Christina came to Australia 30 years ago to study, making the move to
Melbourne full time not long after. Starting from very humble beginnings with just $2,000 in the bank and two young daughters in tow, she worked hard and made numerous sacrifices to provide for her young family.
Today she wears many hats; she is the Chief Operating Officer & Principal (VIC) of North Shore Coaching College, a national education business across 70 Campuses in Australia and Hong Kong. She also holds the role of President for the Asian Australian Family Association (AAFA), Multicultural
Attaché of the Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA), Board Director of the Chinese Association of Australia (CAV), President Elect (VIC) at Women Chiefs of Enterprises International (WCEI) and mentor to RMIT University, among numerous other positions. It’s safe to say she has excelled and progressed both personally and professionally over the years and is held in high reverence today within her local community.
There’s no doubt that the multi-faceted cultural landscape she has grown in over the years has contributed to the successful and respected person she is today. She acknowledges being exposed to so much diversity in day-to-day life in Australia has helped her evolve and become a more complete individual. The very nature of diversity is being open to and understanding difference, to learning and adapting, to progressing, all notions Christina believes create what she terms “A Climate of Trust”.
“Being a migrant, I see great importance of connection, inclusivity, equity, fairness and trust for better quality of life of its people and community,” she says.
Growing up in multicultural Malaysia, Christina is proud of her Chinese heritage, something she
continually promotes with passion. “Promoting diversity, multiculturalism and continuing the rich
Chinese tradition in Australia so that it can be passed on from one generation to another is important,” she says. “Creating a legacy, if you like.”
However, Christina affords equal importance to other cultures, their acceptance and celebration. “Being Australian is about embracing all cultures,” she says. “Celebrating Chinese New Year, Eid, Diwali, Christmas, it’s about connecting and learning and becoming better people and communities.”
This was something clearly evident during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic when communities experienced a wealth of strict restrictions and regulations such as lockdowns and separation from others.
It was a time when community spirit rose to the fore, when helping and encouraging others became the norm, irrespective of background or culture. “It was a time when being resilient and being able to adapt were key,” Christina says. “While it was a testing time, it was also a period when we saw the true strength of humanity, when the community rallied and many people thrived. It required large doses of what I term ‘Grit’, where the power of passion, perseverance and consistency can help you not only weather the storm but actually grow and thrive in the long run. It’s something that I have applied throughout my life – to maintain passion, to keep pushing and not to give up,” she adds.
This indomitable spirit will very much be behind Christina’s endeavours for the year ahead, which
promises to be another busy one!
“It will be another incredible year of collaboration and connection as we resume life back to the positive vibrant environment we’ve always thrived in,” she says, passionately.
“On my work front with North Shore Coaching College, I will continue to work to re-calibrate company culture and spearhead the coaching and tuition of the business. Our focus is to grow and to create joy and confidence among our students by delivering ‘Tuition That Works!’. Our people are our asset and it has always been my priority to ensure that our people are fully supported to live the best versions of their lives. We have 65 campuses in Australia and recently opened in Hong Kong. We intend to keep growing to extend our reach.”
Serving as a mentor and visible, accessible role model is also something vitally important to Christina and is another role she thrives in.
“I have made the transition to be an advocate for vital, positive lifestyle speaking sessions discussing essential issues we face today,” she tells us. “Engaging women in the importance of recognition, the celebration of diversity, and motivating others to develop resilience are issues that resonate with me."
“I will also continue my strong community involvement via the various Not For Profit ventures I am
engaged with such as MHFA, AAFA, CAV and MYC Heart Connectors, an online platform which I am a co-founder of, sharing ideas and generating sustainable value as we recover from the pandemic.
“Championing diversity and gender equality as President Elect for the Women’s Chiefs of Enterprises International (WCEI), a network of women entrepreneurs, business leaders and policy influencers, is also a major focus for me this year,” she says.
It is this extensive engagement within the community that sets Christina apart. Her passion, drive and focus are clear for all to see and have been instrumental in her success, something that was honoured last December when she inducted onto Australia’s National Monument to Migration.
Delivering a keynote speech at the AMSA annual gala in collaboration with the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney celebrating 185 years of migration history not long after she said: “Like most migrants who arrived on Australian shores, we held in our hands endless opportunity, courage and grit for the chance to live our very best lives. My story was not pre-destined, but grew out of courage, chance and hope. My wish is to inspire and to educate those who will come after me. It is imperative for my daughters and future generations of women, that I contribute to re-imagining possibilities for female Asian migrants. We need to own a vision of women who are successful in business, contribute to their community and retain their independent spirit.”
That desire to help others, to lead by example and to create a better world is what makes Christina tick. “I am passionate about fostering community connections and creating a legacy of giving and service to our community. When individuals thrive, families get stronger and our community becomes abundant and a better place to live,” she says.
It is something she terms the ‘Circle of Abundance’. “I am constantly striving to create a positive mindset and heartset, to constantly be a better version of myself which I can share with others in order to spread joy and positivity,” she explains. “When you serve and give, you are making a positive impact to those around you and those receiving your goodness and kindness will naturally feel good. Subsequently, that person passes the positivity and good vibes on, and so on and so forth – it is that ripple effect which will continue to impact many more in your community and help build a better tomorrow.”
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