Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS)
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Why do we exist ?
The Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS) exists to give Victorian young people with a disability a stronger voice. Our motto is " raising voices, expanding choices, creating change".
YDAS works alongside young people with disabilities between the ages of 12 and 25 to raise awareness of their rights and to support them to achieve what they want.
We provide one-on-one support through our individual advocacy service and also work on broader social issues affecting young people with disabilities through our systemic advocacy. This broader work is directed by the YDAS steering committee whose membership is made up exclusively of young people with disabilities from across Victoria.
YDAS is a partnership between the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria, the Disability Discrimination Legal Service and Youthlaw. We are funded by the State Government of Victoria.
What do we do ?
Let's start with a bit of background information about why we do what we do…
Growing up with a disability can be challenging. Young people with disabilities need to deal with inadequate supports in school and university, barriers to employment as well as discrimination and prejudice in the wider community. On top of this, dealing with the disability service system can sometimes be a bit like hitting your head against a brick wall. There are endless waiting lists and application forms, assessments and reassessments. Often after you jump all the hoops and make your way through the service system maze, you don't end up with what you want. Services can be inflexible, unreliable and not suited to your needs and wants. Many young people with disabilities and their families fight these battles on their own because they are unaware that there is help available—
they don't know about YDAS!
The Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS) aims to give young people with a disability a stronger voice through advocacy. Advocacy may seem complicated but it is simply about speaking out and taking action in a way that helps you to get what you want. YDAS provides advocacy for young people with disabilities in Victoria between the ages of 12 and 25. YDAS can support young people with disabilities to access their rights in a range of areas including employment, education, housing, Centrelink benefits, disability services and discrimination and with a wide range of other access and equity issues.
YDAS is a statewide service that can assist young people from all over Victoria. New service users are welcome and there is no waiting list as your request will be responded to usually on the same day but at the very latest, within five working days. Young people with disabilities are encouraged to access the service as individual advocacy clients and they can also be involved in directing our work by joining the YDAS steering committee.
To give you a better idea about the role of the individual advocate at YDAS, it is to support the young person with a disability by working with them to be clear about what they want to achieve and assist them to decide on what action needs to take place. The individual advocate may support the client with information, letter writing, telephone calls as well as arranging and attending meetings that are all aimed at achieving the outcome that the client wants. The individual advocate can also help young people with disabilities to find information about their rights and can put you in touch with other services if they are in a better position to assist with the issue. The service is unique in that it focuses on the needs of the young person with a disability and works directly with the young person to help them to achieve the outcomes that they want. While YDAS is open Monday to Friday, our individual advocate, Michelle, is available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Michelle can be contacted on 9267 3733 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to make a request for advocacy.
You can visit YDAS on the internet at: http://www.ydas.org
. The website includes a forum where young people with disabilities can share ideas, information and support.
What opportunities do we have for young people ?
AS is seeking expressions of interest from young people, between the ages of 12 and 25, to be involved in making decisions about the direction and priorities of the service and to take part in advocacy to improve the lives of young people with disabilities. These young people form the YDAS steering committee and will work closely with the coordinator to ensure that the work of the service is relevant to young people with disabilities and that it is actively addressing their advocacy needs.
If you are a young person with a disability with an interest in disability rights, this is an opportunity for you to increase your skills, work in a team and participate in disability advocacy. You may have an interest in increasing access to:
- buildings and transport
- sport and recreation
- schools and universities
- support and equipment
- shows, pubs and clubs
As a member of the steering committee, you will decide with other young people, what issues you would like to address and what action you would like to take. For example, the committee may wish to develop a campaign to reduce bullying in schools. Together you will prioritise what is most important to young people with disabilities.
As a member of the steering committee, you will need to participate in regular meetings and to be available to work with the coordinator of the service and other steering committee members on various tasks from time to time. Your minimum time commitment would be 2 hours per month. While your participation is voluntary, your expenses will be covered by YDAS and your access needs will be catered for.