Inspiring Ballarat Women Leaders (Parlour Instagram Guest-Host Series)

Talina Edwards Female Architect New Homes Houses Renovations Extensions Rural Central VictoriaThis post is part of my #Ballarat series of guest posts for Archi Parlour on instagram.

This series is all about Ballarat’s Inspiring young women leaders. Parlour is all about supporting women in architecture, but since there are only a small handful of female architects in Ballarat,  I wanted to introduce you to some of my tribe of inspiring women who are doing quite diverse roles in the community. They include photographers and videographers, creative professionals, architects, artists, mentors, a councillor, and the founder of a local women’s charity…read on to find out if anyone you know is featured here!

Talina Edwards Architecture Ballarat Inspiring Women Belinda Coates

Belinda Coates; Deputy Mayor

Belinda Coates is a Greens Councillor at the Ballarat City Council, and also our Deputy-Mayor. She is a passionate advocate for the health of our planet and the health of our community, and has been instrumental in sowing seeds for many positive changes since she became involved in local politics.  She’d love to see Ballarat leading the way as an environmentally sustainable city, and embracing diversity and inclusion. You can often spot Belinda on her pushbike about town, or attending local arts and cultural events, or you can see images of her impressive home-grown fruit and veggies on her Instagram feed. She is a true asset to Ballarat, and the future here looks promising with her leading the way and representing our interests.

Architecture Ballarat Inspiring Women Michelle Emma James

Michelle Emma James

Michelle Emma James is an Architect, and until recently was the director of Here Studio with her partner Ammon Beyerle. The practice has a strong focus on utilising their skills in design, research and events to cultivate communities and improve public spaces. This year Michelle has been focused on further exploration of her career, including teaching architecture students and consulting work.

Michelle was leading the participatory community design process for Ballarat’s Civic Hall Site to look at options for adaptive re-use and sustainable development of this prominent site in the heart of Ballarat. Her dedication to this huge project is admirable, and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds. Michelle teaches architecture, curates Pecha Kulcha Melbourne events, and she founded WELOVEPT to advocate for better public transport. Michelle was awarded the Peter Davies Scholarship for Leadership Ballarat and Western Region in 2015 & has now graduated from the program. Michelle’s passion and her integrity make her a natural leader that Ballarat should be very fortunate to have here.

Architecture Ballarat Inspiring Women Aldona Kmiec Photography

Aldona Kmiec, Photographer

Aldona Kmiec is an award-winning photographer who was born in Poland, studied in London, before embracing Ballarat as her hometown.  She has been our multicultural ambassador and is passionate about cultural diversity in both official roles and also through some amazing community arts projects she has undertaken (including the “we r u” project with portraits of hundreds of locals which were posted in prominent locations all over town to give a real representation of our citizens). Aldona also loves spending time in her veggie patch and her gorgeous renovated heritage home which has been showcased in the media to really help promote Ballarat as an exciting, creative, and diverse regional city.

Architecture Ballarat Inspiring Women Michelle Dunn Photography

Michelle Dunn; photographer and videographer

Michelle Dunn is a passionate and talented photographer and videographer. She is an inspiring creative professional, whose journey has taken her to other side of the world before she came to Ballarat. Michelle’s extensive portfolio includes architectural shots, creative & corporate headshots, weddings, commercial photography, and arts projects. She has a unique ability to really capture the essence of her subject, as revealed in the way she tells stories with her films. Michelle is very involved in Ballarat’s creative and business communities, and she loves sharing her passion for photography by teaching  others her skills. She’s also a proud leader, promoting a creative, open-minded and diverse community, as well as holding a position on the board of Women’s Health Grampians. She recently started a new endeavour – Photography Challenges with heart – take a peek and get involved at With Camera In Hand.

Architecture Ballarat Inspiring Women Erin Malone Eureka Mums

Erin Malone; Eureka Mums

Erin Malone is the founder of local charity Eureka Mums.  Erin has young children of her own, and was wondering about the best way to re-home pre-loved kids stuff when she read about St Kilda Mums. After learning more about the great work they were doing with providing a service to help families in need, she decided to start her own sister organisation here. “We believe that by reusing and recycling much-loved babies’ and children’s gear, we not only share the joy of parenthood with each other, but we save the earth’s precious resources too.” Their commitment to this ethos was recently recognised at the Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards, with two big wins! Find out more about the work Erin does with Eureka Mums and their latest campaign at

Architecture Ballarat Inspiring Women Susan Nethercote Artist Creative Conversation Manque

(Image by @michelledunnphotography used with permission)

Susan Nethercote

Susan Nethercote is a woman who does an amazing job juggling a lot of roles; business owner, clothing designer, coach and consultant, artist, volunteer, mentor, mother and wife! Her urban designer clothing label Manque Design began its life in Melbourne about 15 years ago, and moved here with Suse and her family to Ballarat. Lessons learnt along the way about how to nurture a creative business in a non-traditional way, were the impetus for the launch of another business ‘Creative Conversation’ to help coach others (particular women) how to bring art and soul to their business by trusting their intuition. This past year Susan has really discovered her passion and natural talent for painting, and you can see examples of her beautiful artworks at @susan.nethercote. She’s a role model that inspires, encourages and supports others in their own journeys, leading by example to follow your heart and do what you love.

Architecture Ballarat Inspiring Women Amy Tsilemanis Tinderbox Radio Artist

Amy Tsilemanis

Amy Tsilemanis is a true multi-passionate and multi-disciplinary creative professional and artist, with a love for arts, culture and heritage. She has a natural ability to connect with and engage the community through her storytelling. Amy is a writer, photographer, film-maker, radio-broadcaster, events-organiser, collaborator, producer, researcher, curator, project-manager, volunteer and more (!) with her pride for Ballarat city shining through in all her projects. She is fascinated at exploring innovative and creative ways that contemporary art can respond to historical archives, and how that can influence our urban environment and shape the stories of our future. Amy is on the City of Ballarat’s Heritage Advisory Committee and is a volunteer at Ballarat Mechanics Institute. Some of her exciting projects include an interactive website/app developed with Jarrod Watt for City of Ballarat Heritage Weekend where contemporary images of our city can also unveil the past, and involvement with HUL Ballarat , a UNESCO-promoted approach of how to manage change in historic urban landscapes. 

How amazing are these ladies? There’s plenty more just like them here in Ballarat. I’d love to be able to extend this series one day to feature many more of the talent in town! If you liked this post, please check out the previous two in my Parlour Instagram Guest Post series, Ballarat Heritage Architecture, and Ballarat Contemporary Architecture.

Do you know some inspiring women about town? Please tell me about them in the comments below!

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Talina Edwards Architecture: elemental design is a Ballarat-based studio, with a passion for sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. Click here to ensure you won’t miss out on our news!



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