Amazing Chinese-Australian Women
My novels celebrate two remarkable women, Katy and Clara Yehonala -“universal women” who make a difference in the world. Nominate your Amazing Chinese-Australian woman making a difference in the Arts, business, sport or environmental and human rights activism and celebrate the achievements of Amazing Millennial Women. Nominate your own heroines HERE
Kathleen Quan Mane
Chinese Australian women have a proud history of service to their adopted country going back further than most of us imagine. Their selfless service and bravery in wartime are all the more amazing living under the openly racist White Australia Policy.
Kathleen Quan Mane was one of the first Chinese Australian women to join the war effort in WW2 and served as a codebreaker in the Australian Military doing highly classified cypher work. She enlisted at age 18, despite her father being treated as a “foreigner and enemy” and her mother’s Australian citizenship being revoked after her parents married and having to report to the police station regularly.
The now 91-year-old war veteran was born in Sydney to an Australian-born Chinese mother and a Cantonese father who came to Australia in the early 1900s. She recalled her parents had been proud and supportive of her and her sister joining the Defence Force despite the family suffering under Australia’s discriminatory policies and racism. Each of her other four sisters served or had a son or husband in the Defence Force. “We spoke Cantonese in the home, ate Chinese food and lived a Chinese lifestyle and going into the forces was a great change for us. We were what you could call a military family, which was quite unusual because Chinese girls usually did not leave home before getting married.”
After the surrender of Imperial Japan, Kathleen Quan Mane and her sister, Doreen, devoted themselves to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), doing humanitarian work in China. Three decades later, in 1979, she returned to Australia and reunited with her family.
She was appointed as honorary secretary of the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force WA branch and served until 2016.
Records from the Chinese Museum in Melbourne show more than 600 Chinese-Australian men and women enlisted to serve their adopted country during World War II. We celebrate Amazing Women of Chinese Australian heritage from all eras.
Read Ms Quan’s full story at ABC News
Kathleen Quan Mane’s story is told with thanks to the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Australian War Memorial.
Michelle Law is a proud Chinese Australian and one of our luminous playwrights, writers and actors across print, theatre, film and television. Michelle’s recent play, Miss Peony, which she describes as “a magic realist comedy”, is a celebration of the Chinese diaspora and completed a successful Australian tour to rave reviews.
As a playwright, she wrote the brilliantly funny Top Coat and Single Asian Female. Her screenwriting work includes Homecoming Queens (SBS) and the travel guide Asian Girls are Going Places, and she co-wrote the comedy book Sh*t Asian Mothers Say. A multi-award winner, she was named winner of the Arts & Culture category of the Most Influential Young Asian-Australians.
Michelle speaks out for intersectional feminism, cultural identity and race and wrote the documentary Suicide and Me (ABC2) to promote suicide prevention in Australia.
Xiaozheng (Seiko Ma)
Xiaozheng’s entrepreneurial journey since 2017 is a relentless commitment to innovation, strategic thinking, and a passion to drive improvements in property management in Australia and around the world. With an astute eye for opportunities and an unwavering commitment to improving the short-term rental industry, she continues to shape its future and redefine its possibilities.
In 2022, her brand Alice’s Home, won acclaim as one of Australia’s top 100 fast starters, a testament to her exceptional leadership.
With demand soaring for travel accommodation and short-term rentals worldwide, Xiaozheng founded My Virtual CoHost in 2023, revolutionising the short-term rental markets. This Amazing Woman is currently focused on collaborating with developers to provide a lifestyle that prioritises and manages sustainable, eco-friendly living internationally.
“Esthy” Qin competed in the women’s springboard events in the Rio and Tokyo Olympics and is a four-time Commonwealth Games and World Championship medallist. The diving legend recently announced her retirement to pass on her experience to the next generation of young athletes.
Few doubt the immense sacrifices athletes make for their sport. For Esthy Qin, moving to a new country and culture was daunting. World-class divers like Esthy Qin didn’t get to the top by accident. It took superhuman levels of time, dedication and focus. For non-Olympians, possessing such capabilities is a dream. Esther had her view about dreams when she said, “Every morning, you have two choices: Continue to sleep with your dreams. Or wake up and chase them.”
Esthy Qin is the rarest of heroines. She is in every sense of the term, an Amazing Woman.
Internationally renowned human rights leader, Frances Voon, received The Global Australian Award for Social Impact for her leadership in advancing refugee rights. She has been described as “a heroine hidden in plain sight” and has dedicated her life to advancing the rights of forced migrants.
Ms Voon is the Executive Manager of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW. She has worked in Sudan, Jordan and Bangladesh on refugee policy.
“How a society treats forced migrants is a barometer for its commitment to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to flourish, regardless of their background. A society that sees dignity and strength in diversity can confidently welcome those seeking safety.”
Frances Voon was named one of the 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians in 2022.
Cosmopolitan’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Forbes Asia star, the Australian Financial Review’s ‘Young Rich List’ are accolades earned by an Amazing Woman who turned a debt-ridden life into a $100 million success story.
Jane showed immense courage, resilience and determination to follow her instincts and now advises aspiring entrepreneurs as a “Shark” on Network Ten’s business show Shark Tank.
Jane quit her job as an accountant in 2010 and knew her parents wouldn’t be keen to learn she had a new fashion-related business idea in lieu of her career. So, she caught a bus to “work” with her mum each morning while secretly pitching the latest trends on social media, in Bondi bars and the Arthouse Hotel. Jane Lu is an Amazing Woman leading her booming global fashion brand, Showpo – a testament to her vision and tenacity.