|Subject: Miss Universe Australia 2017: Olivia Rogers reveals her battle with mental illness|
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Date Posted: 20:51:39 06/29/17 Thu
By Melissa Singer
As a speech pathologist, newly-crowned Miss Universe Australia Olivia Rogers was always going to choose her words carefully.
But it's the bikini round that had her most nervous going into Thursday's national final.
"Growing up I was quite a chubby kid ... very nerdy ... I never thought I'd do modelling ... The runways have always been a bit daunting, particularly bikini – it's never really been my thing. Even in front of my family I am a bit self conscious. So getting up on stage in front of a lot of people in not much was very scary," Ms Rogers, 25, said after winning the crown from NSW favourite Georgie Mitchell.
Following her win, Ms Rogers revealed she had battled anxiety and depression in her younger years.
"I've been using social media to raise awareness and help young girls to overcome that," she said.
"I thought at first I could get over it myself but I realised that wasn't the case ... I still get anxiety but I know how to cope with it. I love to go for runs and listen to music and do things for myself."
As the Australian winner, Ms Rogers, who moved to Melbourne eight weeks ago, will go on to represent Australia at the world title. The last time an Australian won the global crown was Jennifer Hawkins, in 2004.
"I feel like a bit of a traitor because I moved here but South Australia will always be home," she said.
The night began with 32 contestants, who were reduced to 10, then the final five.
Ms Rogers also has a business selling her art and is a published illustrator, with a children's book in the works.
But her spare time, which will be reduced even more now she's the reigning champion, is spent on her beloved dog Mooshie, an Alaskan malamute whose popularity rivals her own.
Mooshie has 122,000 Instagram followers, an agent and can command more money for social media posts than his beauty queen owner.
This was Ms Roger's first time entering a beauty pageant, and she only made the South Australian finals after another contestant pulled out.
"I spoke to my friends and family and the majority said I should do it," she said.
Despite finding the confidence to take part, she still found the bikini round the most daunting.
"I thought I was going to throw up all day," she said of Tuesday's swimwear judging session.
A speech pathologist, she said was conscious of not messing up the question-and-answer round.
In the final round, the finalists all answered the same question: "What does being a woman mean to you?"
Earlier, the top 10 were quizzed on a range of issues including gay marriage, immigration and leadership.
One of the other big awards on the night was given to designer Steph Audino, who has won the right to dress Ms Rogers for the world event. Audino was responsible for creating the Great Barrier Reef-inspired national costume for last year's Australian winner, Cariis Tivel.
"It's been a whirlwind of a year. It's hard not to get emotional," Ms Tivel said.
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