Set at the Rydges Parramatta on the 28th of February 2020, eight extremely motivated and inspirational women took on the challenge of competing for five prestigious titles. After months of training and doing charitable work, the five beauty queens have finally been handed down their respective titles by the Australian International Pageant National Director, Ferial Youakim. The International Pageants system is a unique system that differs from other pageant systems due to the authenticity in its aim to strive to serve others in the community. It simultaneously creates an opportunity for women to become self-empowered and empower others. Now let’s meet the 2020 queens (Photos courtesy of Ruby Adamson):
Laura Ratliff (Mrs. Australia International 2020)
Laura Ratliff sparkles for every child. She’s a wife, an entrepreneur, a public speaker, and a philanthropist.
When Laura was a child in school, she was actually shy and she struggled with confidence. Through the support of her mum and dad, she eventually received the tools and guidance that helped her overcome her challenges. From a young age, growing up in Sydney Australia, she has a passion for the performing arts, racing motorbikes, circus arts, and having fun. But her constant thought was – there must be something more and there must be a reason why she’s here. Through the combination of all of the skills she developed in her childhood, she laid the foundation of her business, Fairy La La Land. In 2014 Laura became an international businesswoman when she found a fantastic company called “Send Out Cards”. That strengthened her belief in the power of appreciation and building relationships that led her to find the man of her dreams and a fairytale wedding in Salt Lake City.
Her decision to enter the Mrs. Australian International pageant started when she was looking for charity organizations to help children. Laura and her husband Barton were eating lunch in SLC when she read an article about Robin Towel, the current Mrs, International 2019, and the work she does for Teen suicide prevention. Robin inspired Laura to follow in her footsteps and allow her to inspire and help even more children through this wonderful platform. Her mission is to inspire children to reach their full potential through health, fitness, and a positive mindset. Over the past ten years, she has had the privilege to make children smile and in the process, promote a healthy lifestyle and a positive attitude. She is now the support for children around the world living in poverty. There are 730,000 children in Australia and 15 million children in the USA alone, living in poverty. She is on a mission to lower those numbers and provide programs to help them have a bigger, brighter future.
Laura instantly connected with the McCabe Foundation and its mission to provide education and support to inner-city youth, where they can grow and develop positive personal development skills needed as they grow into adulthood. The McCabe Foundation is partnered with Nancy Lieberman Charities to bring these tools to the youth through competitive sports, mentorship, and various educational opportunities. By partnering with the McCabe Foundation who support the Nancy Lieberman Charities, she is able to bring awareness to this problem and raise funds for multiple sports and leadership programs that deliver opportunities for children. By donating one dream court to the Nancy Lieberman charity, she’s able to give children living in low-income areas the chance to learn new skills, learn about a healthy lifestyle and build relationships with their local peers giving them focus, skills, and a network of positive influence who will help to change the cores of their future. It is her goal, as Mrs. Australia International 2020 to create 2 dream courts; one in Sydney, Australia, and one in Utah, USA that millions of children in low-income areas can benefit for years to come. To follow Mrs. Australia International 2020, Laura Ratliff’s journey, you can visit her official website (www.laurajaneratliff.com).
Sindu Varathan (Ms. Australia International 2020)
Sindu Varathan was originally born and raised in India but she decided to follow a career opportunity in Singapore and now she has been in Australia for the past decade. She is an IT Technical Consultant by profession and she is also the founder of ‘Hasi Splash’ – a not for profit which strives to bring a splash of love, hope, and laughter with acts of kindness into people’s lives, in their community and beyond. Education has played a very important role in her life and has been one of her key tools to navigate through the different transitions in her life. She believes every child has a right to a safe environment and a right to education. This is what inspired her to enter into the world of pageantry and join hands with the Save The Children organisation as her platform who works hard “building a better world for and with children.”
Life eventually unfolded into some very uncertain turns in what Sindu thought was a perfect life. She says that becoming a single parent opened her eyes to the vulnerability of a child during those difficult transitions and advocating for child rights became her passion since then. Sindu currently lives in Victoria and is actively involved in her local community raising awareness for her platform. She loves her beautiful sash and crown but she believes that her mission is much deeper than the surface. She is determined to make the most of her title to make the most of these opportunities awarded to her by helping those children that really need a voice.
Tiffany Shen (Miss Australia International 2020)
Tiffany Shen is an ambassador for The Sunlight Foundation – an organisation focussed on putting a stop to child trafficking.
Inspired by the sacrifices of her mother, Tiffany decided to act selflessly on an issue close to her own heart. Sadly, the loathsome crime of child-trafficking is rising, especially in Asia, where girls and boys, often no more than six or seven years old are sold as trophies to sex-tourists and other pedophiles, then passed on to suffer more obscene violence in the brutal sex slums of Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand. When Tiffany traveled to Vietnam, her eyes were opened to the terrible industry and she is now determined to make a difference and create a change within the government to tackle this issue.
Adelayde Mckellar (Miss Teen Australia International 2020)
Adelayne is the newly crowned Miss Teen Australia International 2020. She is a fourth-year hairdressing apprentice from Queensland and she decided to use her voice to raise awareness for the escalating issue of domestic violence after a tragedy in her family’s life sparked her need for change.
Sadly, Adelayde lost a beloved family member to domestic violence and that’s when she knew something had to be done. She is definitely a young woman on a mission.
Michelle Fleming (Goodwill Ambassador Australia International 2020)
Michelle Fleming was the reigning Ms. Australia International last year and she earnt the title of Goodwill Australia International Ambassador just recently. She’s a 45-year-old mother of three children (Tiarna, Blake, and Ruby) and she resides in the Lake Macquarie region of New South Wales. She works as a care worker/nurse in her local community.
Michelle’s passion and mission for her platforms, homelessness, and farmers are much deeper than her crown and sash. Her passion for rural Australia stems back to her childhood, but it grew deeper with the effects of the drought. She has spent the last seven years being a role model; advocating and working closely alongside vulnerable souls in her community, and empowering others with her inspiring life story. She also survived a traumatic brain injury leaving her with epilepsy, speech, and memory issues, resulting in her, becoming a single mum and homeless. Her life story is about hope, determination, resilience, and faith.
Michelle gains a unique sense of purpose by helping others. She helps her homeless friends and farmer families settle into a life of love and support and assists them in securing accommodation and employment. She has initiated hundreds of successful fundraising events over the years to assist her community. The most recent fundraiser “Queens Heart N Soul 4 Kids” is a team effort with her Australia International Team. Each queen has pledged to walk/run 50km in August with the goal to raise funds of around $5000.00 for Westmead Children’s hospital.
“The fulfilling feeling of giving back and contributing to society is unparalleled. I believe we can make a positive difference and restore hope in the lives of others and ourselves through caring and giving, I recommend everyone to immerse themselves in their community and surround themselves with people who are dedicated to making a positive difference in the world.” Michelle actually encourages women to join the prestigious Australia International pageant system. “It truly is a sisterhood of genuine, beautiful, empowering women with diverse backgrounds, advocating for great causes. Ferial Youakim our Director, leads by example. We are family, making a positive difference in the lives of others.”
Michelle is dedicated and determined to make the most of her title and to embrace every opportunity to empower others to join her movement to make a positive difference in the lives of others. In fact, she has forged a life committed to helping restore lives and hope for others. She works tirelessly to unite communities in order to break the stereotypes and break barriers surrounding homelessness, so everyone can feel valued and have a sense of belonging. She lives by the motto “always stay humble and kind” and “we give hope to others through caring.”