Madeleine Sobb was a long way from her Newscastle home attending uni in Melbourne, when she found the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (YACVIC), who helped her secure the services she needed.
A little over a year down the track and Madeleine has a 'great group of friends', can't see herself living anywhere but Melbourne and spends most of her spare time undertaking volunteer work with the organisation that advocated for her rights, the YACVIC-auspiced Youth Disability Advocacy Services (YDAS).
As a young adult who has spent most of her life in an electric wheelchair as a result of a rare bone growth disorder, Madeleine understands the challenges faced by people with a physical disability.
As someone who admits to being 'quite independent' and 'quite a vocal person', Madeleine is a perfect fit for YDAS where she is a member of the steering board, works on a range of advocacy projects and also volunteers in the office.
Madeleine started out at YDAS in an outreach role, spreading the word about services available to help people with disabilities and talking about how they could get involved.
'We want to ensure that young people know we exist, can speak to us directly and don't have to rely on others,' Madeleine says.
Working on systemic advocacy projects and addressing issues affecting young people with disabilities is one of the roles Madeleine has embraced at YDAS. She also recently wrote her first ever grant application which resulted in funding for an upcoming conference for people with disabilities.'
Madeleine believes the conference will be instrumental in providing a national profile to an issue that she is passionate about.
'I feel that people with disabilities who are able to speak up should, because some others can't. So I'm just practising what I preach.'
And the 22-year-old has been standing up for others since she left secondary school, volunteering with disability organisations in different advocacy roles, while running her own millinery business back in Newcastle.
'What I realise now is that disability issues are what I'm really passionate about and I see myself working in a job where I can improve the rights of people with disabilities – although I'm not quite sure yet exactly what that will hold.'
YACVIC is a peak body and leading policy advocate on young people's issues in Victoria. For more information on the service go to www.yacvic.org.au
YDAS is a disability advocacy service that specifically represents and works on issues of concern to young people with disabilities. For more information click on www.ydas.vic.gov.au