Today we are talking with Emily Tokic from the ACT on of the twenty-eight. Talented and inspiring women from all walks of life who are vying for the title of Miss Universe Australia 2020.
In what has certainly been an unpredictable and unprecedented year of ups and downs we’re thrilled to bring you our ninth year of Miss Universe Australia finalist interviews.
So Emily, why don’t you tell us about yourself?
I am 22 years old, and I was born and raised in Canberra. I am in my final year of my Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws degree. Alongside this, I am currently working part-time as a Law Interpretation Officer at the Australian Taxation Office.
My childhood was spent in the dance studio – for 13 years; I hoped to pursue a career in Ballet. However, I have always had a strong sense of justice, and upon completing year 10, I decided to replace those aspirations with that of a career in the legal field. Upon the completion of my law degree, I intend to practice in either human rights law or taxation law (or maybe even both, by way of pro-bono).
My background is Croatian, and I am incredibly proud of my heritage! I have a huge passion for politics – I love nothing more than a good political debate. I also love travelling, spending time at the beach, reading a good novel and playing tennis with my family and friends.
The Miss Universe Australia program has been on hold since earlier in the year and now making its way towards a virtual final to be held on October 28, What motivated you to enter the Miss Universe Australia Program?
I am extremely passionate about human rights, alongside overcoming the various injustices and oppression that hundreds of millions of people are facing on a daily basis. This passion of mine is what prompted me to enter the Miss Universe Australia program, for the reason that I would love to be able to utilise the platform, in combination with my legal degree, to raise awareness on the various issues that I am passionate about – those, that the mainstream media is often silent on.
For instance, issues such as homelessness, we often perceive this in quite a distorted profile, simply for the reason that often, all we see are those that are rough sleepers. However, rough sleepers only make up for 7-8% of the 116,000 Australians that are currently facing homelessness today, where most are living in either temporary accommodation, shelters, cars, or are couch surfing, as a result of being forced out of the unaffordable housing market. They are essentially left without a systematic plan. Our justice systems are simply failing those vulnerable populations, and for this reason, I firmly believe that the right to housing needs to be enshrined in domestic legislation – as a permanent address goes a long way in breaking the cycle of homelessness.
Additionally, another example of where our justice systems are failing to protect vulnerable populations – victims, in particular, is in regard to sexual harassment and assault, particularly in terms of its failure to hold perpetrators to account, which rests alongside our helpless defamation laws, that are only silencing victims further.
Furthermore, there are so many injustices that people are facing daily, yet the world remains silent – mainstream media, remains silent.
From extreme poverty to homelessness, to the unthinkable trafficking of human beings, abuse and neglect, to educational inequality and discrimination – we can do so much more.
I genuinely believe that I can bring about positive social change, and that is why I would love to be able to utilise the Miss Universe Australia platform, to simply raise awareness on the various issues that I am extremely passionate about – those in particular, that often don’t receive the attention they deserve.
Additionally, this is my second time participating in the Miss Universe Australia program – I first entered in 2018, and that is partly the reason why I decided to re-enter. The Miss Universe Australia program is an incredible self-development journey, and my experience in 2018, has truly been influential in my personal growth and development which has led me to be the person that I am today. In 2018, I was so focused on trying to “say and do” the right thing and to be “liked” – that I essentially lost myself in the process.
I allowed the pressure of the occasion to get to me too much, and in doing so, I wasn’t truly able to enjoy all of the remarkable things that the program has to offer.
For this reason, I felt the need to come back, in order for everyone to get to know me, for who I really am. I am now older, wiser and more knowledgeable, and I am ready to give it my best shot.
Lastly, a piece of advice that my parents had taught me was to never give up on my dreams. To always find the positive in every situation, even in times of failure. I would therefore love to be able to utilise the platform to simply encourage and inspire other young women to never give up on their dreams – to encourage them to be the best version of themselves, by sharing my stories, my successes and my failures.
This year has been like no other, how have you been coping so far and what’s been the biggest challenge and positive that has come out of it all?
Ahhh, 2020 – a year, we will never forget! We have actually been quite lucky here in Canberra – we haven’t really felt the impacts of the Covid-19 restrictions.
Life essentially resumed back to the “new normal” in June – shortly after the peak of the first wave. For me, the biggest challenge was having almost everything (unless it was categorised as essential) being taken away from us.
It revealed how much we truly take these things for granted. In particular, that being, the ability to dine in a restaurant or cafe, the ability to go to the movies, the arcade, or even engage in an activity as simple as browsing the shops or walking around the lake!
However, the positive in this situation, is that once this is all over (and it will be) – we will never take these things for granted again. I genuinely believe that now, we will have a greater appreciation for the little things in life.
With everyone bringing such an individual flair to the competition, what do you think is something that will set you apart from the other contestants?
I would say that the one thing that separates me from the other contestants is the fact that I am myself.
Everyone is so unique in their way – we all bring our special flair in terms of what we have to offer, and that’s what makes this competition so special. I believe that one of the greatest ways that you can grow and evolve as an individual, is by learning and listening to the shared stories and experiences of others, and that’s one of the greatest things that the Miss Universe Australia program has to offer, given we are surrounded by 30 other beautiful, intelligent and strong women, that are so unique in their way, and have so much to offer.
The winner of Miss Universe Australia 2020 will also receive the prestigious Minespec Parts grant worth $20,000 to spend on your education or business startup, what would you do if you received this grant? And would you say your answer has changed now during the current COVID climate?
I believe that education is one of the most powerful tools that any individual can have access to. However, it is estimated that 1 in 5 children around the world are not in school.
Education is power, it is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, it is the key to breaking the cycle of exclusion, and it is the key to strengthening future societies. Yet, so many young boys and girls are denied this opportunity.
I have been extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to be educated, and for this reason, I would put the Minespec Parts grant towards my studies, as I am currently in my final year of my Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws degree. My studies have been extremely influential in shaping me into becoming the person that I am today – I have not only learnt how to think critically, but also how to think and react objectively. I have also attained a greater understanding of who I am as a person, and what I believe in, and that is one of the reasons why I decided to enter the Miss Universe Australia program – to be able to utilise my knowledge, with that of the platform, to raise awareness on issues that I am passionate about.
First thing you will do when this pandemic ends?
I can’t wait to be able to travel internationally – I’ll be on the first flight out!
Place you will hope to travel to next?
I would love to travel to the US – in particular; I’d love to visit Nashville, Miami and New York City.
Have you taken up a new hobby, skill or learnt a new dish during lockdown?
I actually played the piano for roughly 6-7 years – this was something that I decided to pick up again during lockdown. It was quite refreshing to see how quickly I picked it up again – muscle memory is truly incredible!
Minespec Parts are proud to be the presenting sponsor for Miss Universe Australia, Working to empower and support women not just through the Miss Universe Australia pageant and their $20k education and business grant, but through many platforms with various activities across Australia all furthering and supporting women in the workplace.