Meet our Members

Our diverse group of members range from experienced Toastmasters to those just beginning their journey.

Click a member profile to learn more about their Toastmasters experience:


Yana Asmalovskaya

Advanced Communicator Bronze

When I immigrated to Australia from Russia in 2005 I knew very little about the English language or about Australian people and their customs. So in order to survive, I surrounded myself with a Russian community and so Russian remained the language of conversation for me. However, after a few years in Australia I realised that this was unhealthy and that if one lives in an English speaking country one needs to learn English and become friends with English speaking people. I attended some English classes however my progress was very modest. “You need to speak to people” – my teacher told me.

Seeing that I was stuck and afraid to speak to anyone a good friend recommended me to visit one of the Toastmasters Clubs. He told me that if I would get used to speaking to a small crowd of people (even if I will present only rehearsed speeches) I will feel much more confident speaking with individuals. For me it was a matter of life or death and I found a Toastmaster Club nearby. I immediately loved the atmosphere, structure and entertainment of the Club meeting. But I was concerned that people will not want me there. They approached me, introduced themselves and invited me to join! ”But you see how poor my English is” I told them. “I doubt that it is possible for me to join a public speaking Club.” “But you can do it!” they told me “You are welcome here. We can help you”.

I joined and I was never disappointed. I found out that Toastmasters is a wonderful organisation which gives so much more than one could ever envisage! There are effective and structured learning programs that are tailored exactly for an individual’s needs, there are plenty of supporting materials and, through Toastmasters, I found so many amazing friends.

When my Russian friends ask me “Where did you learn English?” I proudly answer “I learned English at Toastmasters!”


Louise Bernstein

Advanced Communicator Silver
Advanced Leadership Bronze

I have been a member of Toastmasters since July 2007. Marlin Coast Toastmasters was recommended to me during a 6 month mentoring program with the Cairns Business Woman’s Club. When Reef City Cairns Toastmasters was set up in 2017, I went along to find out more and really enjoyed the hour of power lunchtime format so much that this is now my home club.  I was one of the charter members of Reef City Cairns Toastmasters.

I immediately felt welcomed to step out of my comfort zone in a supportive manner from the very first meeting. Toastmasters has given me strong leadership and communication skills that assist in both my personal and business life. I has had many roles on the executive committee and was delighted to be the President for the clubs second year in 2018.


Andrea Collins

Competent Communicator
Competent Leadership
Innovative Planning 2

I joined Reef City Cairns Toastmasters at the end of 2016 after many years of procrastination. As a health professional for 20+ years I was comfortable speaking to patients individually and small groups about my area of expertise but the thought of speaking to larger groups was still daunting. The idea of joining Toastmasters came to me when I first moved to Cairns in 1998 as a way of meeting people, and developing both personally and professionally, but it took me many years to step out of my comfort zone in this area.

From the very first Toastmasters meeting at Reef City I was astounded by the warmth and camaraderie of the group, plus the ethos that there is no failure. Toastmasters provides a great structure which steps the speaker through various elements of presenting and preparing speeches and encourages constructive evaluation. Every role in the course of a meeting is evaluated, including the speakers with a view to helping each other improve. 

Being a business owner, leadership skill development is also a valuable avenue in Toastmasters. I have found the training and encouragement in this area both personally and professionally rewarding.

I enjoy being part of the Executive Committee. I started with Sergeant at Arms in 2016, moved through Vice President Membership in 2017/18 and now act as the club Vice President Public Relations. Each role has particular skill sets that are fostered, which have benefited me personally and professionally, whilst also allowing me to give back to the club and support others.


Vlasta Eriksson

Distinguished Toastmaster

Founding Member

I moved to Australia in 1982, after moving from Slovakia as a political refugee. I lived in Adelaide, South Australia through most of my young adult life and moved to Cairns in 1996.

Whilst managing my business, Signature Staff, I realised the importance of effective communications, hence joining Toastmasters in 2010. I have found Toastmasters extremely helpful not only to harness my communication skills but also to improve my leadership skills. Toastmasters has equipped me with the essential skills to take on leadership roles in the community and effectively convey my message to employees, clients, authorities and the public.

I received the Distinguished Toastmasters award in 2018 and hope to inspire people to pursue the arena in public speaking and leadership roles. I am the Reef City Cairns Toastmasters inaugural President.


Tina O'Hagan

I recently moved to Tropical Cairns to live and work after getting married last year.

I joined Reef City Cairns Toastmasters to polish up on my public speaking (as it's been a few years since I have delivered a speech or been on the speaking circuit).

My last major speech was as a  guest speaker at the Enterprising Women Summit 2013 held at The Robert Morris University Pittsburgh USA which was supported by the Irish Institute Pittsburgh who’s founder is Ambassador Jim Rooney.

My intention is to improve on my delivery of speech content and be more effective as a speaker in timings and pace. I look forward again to being on the stage addressing a conference, and hopefully with the help of Toastmasters, gain confidence through the process.


Rita Merrick

I retired from the UK to Far North Queensland in January 2016 after working as a medical secretary in the UK for nearly 50 years. Whilst in England, I was often invited to speak of my secretarial (and other) adventures to women’s groups, church organisations and administrative meetings. I really enjoyed doing this but always felt that it was more of a chat I was offering than a properly formed speech, even though I still wanted to maintain some flexibility and humour.

When I arrived in Australia I thought my speaking days were over as I didn’t know anyone but I knew if I was to continue what I loved doing, then I would have to make a huge effort to get to know people and see just what was going on in this part of the world. And so I did!  I joined any number of organisations and soon got to know many people.

My husband had been a member of Toastmasters in Melbourne many years previously and occasionally he would mention this to me as something perhaps I would enjoy. With much trepidation in January 2019 I went along to my first meeting of Reef City Cairns Toastmasters, a lunchtime gathering which suited me just fine.

Wow! Such a great group of people from all walks of life and I immediately felt welcomed and at ease. The inevitable happened and I had to give a speech – aaaggghhh! However, much to my amazement, it seemed to go down well and I knew from that point that I wanted to hone my speaking skills. Little by little, I feel my chatty speaking style has become somewhat more refined (well, I think so anyway !) and this has been due to the encouragement of other Toastmaster members and by listening to how they present themselves. This has been a huge boost to me and gives me added confidence when I address an audience or preach from the pulpit. I feel that I can add something to this great group and look forward to planning future speeches. Thanks Toasties!


Yujyng Song

I was born in South Korea. I grew up in a conservative family. My parents were traditional and wanted me to be quiet and submissive to others. Consequently, I was shy and quiet, and hardly expressed my opinions to others.

I met my Australian husband when I was working in Fiji. We married in Korea and then settled in Australia.

I always wanted to learn how to speak in front of others, which I have never done before, as well as improve my English. I felt that I found the right place for this when my friend recommended Toastmasters to me.

I joined Toastmasters in November last year and have noticed the difference. My speaking has improved and I am getting more confident when I stand in front of people. I want to say thank you to everybody, you are so helpful.