Meet Melinda Rio, whose meeting Queen Elizabeth II set the stage for a diplomatic life.
“Once you’ve dealt with royalty, there’s no going back!”
Learning that a position in the Department of Premier and Cabinet was up for grabs to look after the Queen’s visit to New Zealand, Melinda called every day until she got the job. It took four more years of persistence, hard work and career building before finally joining the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2005.
Melinda’s gone on to have an amazing and diverse career, starting with a love of foreign policy and leading to corporate management of overseas missions and consular high-level visits. She’s seen humanity through the diplomat’s lens with long-term postings in Indonesia and Belgrade, Serbia as the Deputy Head of Mission.
Her most challenging times came during crisis deployments to Japan for the tsunami/nuclear crisis in 2011 and the Ukraine, following the downing of flight MH17 in 2014. She says, “my path has not been easy, but when the time was right, lightbulb moments would come and doors would open”.
Melinda credits her hard work and diligence in maintaining a strong and reliable reputation; and whilst completing her Masters and a career were important, by far her greatest and proudest moments have been with her daughter.
“Adopted from Cambodia at 3yo, my daughter has taught me to live in the moment, be mindful, present and perhaps more important than anything else she’s taught me that anyone can learn to be a diplomat”.
She proved this to Melinda when aged 12, she was Australian Ambassador for the day to mark International Day of the Girl Child, she visited a street kids drop-in centre, launched a book on bullying, met with the head of UNICEF and even gave media interviews!
Melinda’s greatest lesson, “While hard work and persistence is important, perhaps the greatest lesson has been the importance of ‘not trying to force our way through life. We must learn to relax and trust that life will unfold exactly as it should”.
Melinda is working as a Liaison Officer – Minister for Trade & Investment at the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT).
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