Fighting chance: improving the lives of youth with disabilities


Many young people in Australia today aspire to do something that will make our society better. Many of us wish to have a positive impact on the world we live in. Yet wanting to do that, and knowing how to do it, are two very different things.

In her keynote address, Laura O’Reilly will talk a little about the process of setting up a non-profit organisation. She will give an overview of the road Fighting Chance has walked in its first two years, and provide some insight into the highs and lows of the journey. She will also talk about the disability sector in Australia, and finding a calling in places beyond the norm.


When Laura O'Reilly was four years old, her youngest brother Shane was born with brain damage. Shane would grow up to be amazing young man, but his struggles as a person with a disability proudly moved his siblings, who were forced to watch him struggle in a society which affords few opportunities to people like Shane.

In 2011 Laura and her second sibling Jordan co-founded Fighting Chance, a youth-led non profit organization which exists to create opportunities for young adults with physical disabilities in Australia. In just two years, the O’Reillys have grown Fighting Chance into an organisation which provides daily services to fifteen young adults with highly challenging needs and which is quickly developing a reputation in the sector as a creative and innovative service provider and disability advocacy organisation.

Laura is also a graduate of Cambridge University and, in addition to her work with Fighting Chance, is currently studying law at UNSW. She sits on the NSW Disability Council and won the 2011 NSW Young Carer of the Year Award.

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