Growing up as a Young Carer for her younger brother with a range of chronic health conditions, allergies and learning difficulties, Madeleine saw a gap in the family support - who was caring for the brother or sister in these families?
At the age of 9 Madeleine stood outside her house and sold bouncy balls to people passing by to start raising money for a charity that had a Big Brother/Big Sister program Madeleine was accessing. From here her dreams grew - she ran her first function at 9 years old with 50 people and newsreader Peter Mitchell at the Plaster Fun House. Another 10 fundraising events later Madeleine decided that it was time she acted to make her own change. Aged 15, Madeleine started writing a business plan for a charity called Little Dreamers. It was at this time that her mum was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. While her mum was going through surgeries and chemotherapy, Madeleine used it as motivation to keep pushing forward. She knew, now more than ever, how important it was that Young Carers were supported in the community - because every child deserves a childhood. At 16 years of age Madeleine registered and launched Little Dreamers Australia. Developed to support young people put into the position of caring for a parent or sibling with a chronic illness, mental illness, disability or drug/alcohol addiction, Madeleine has changed the lives for thousands of Young Carers and Special Siblings over the past 8 years.
Little Dreamers is now a not-for-profit that recognises, celebrates, and amplifies Young Carers. Young Carers are one of the most vulnerable groups in Australia. They improve these kids’ lives and strengthen their futures by increasing their social connectedness through holiday programs, a yearly festival, and the Dreamers Hub (a communication platform for Young Carers). Little Dreamers champions Young Carers through advocacy programs, which raise awareness and break down barriers of stigma and ignorance surrounding disability, mental health, and caring. They also foster employment pathways by working with businesses to develop carer-friendly workplaces, and through development programs that empower 16-18-year-olds through workshops and retreats that bring out their own strengths. All Little Dreamers programs are tailored to Young Carers and target high-risk areas to ensure that everyone can take part in Australian prosperity, whether in a caring role or not. Young Carers often mature early and undertake roles children shouldn’t have to. Young Carers are disadvantaged in their mental health, academic performance, and job prospects. By eliminating these barriers, and highlighting the skills that Young Carers gain through life experience, we strengthen their future and that of the community at large by ensuring they are given the opportunity to be fully engaged in society.
Not only does Madeleine run Little Dreamers to support these often forgotten young people, Madeleine has become a face for political reform and development of policies regarding Young Carers. Madeleine is on her way to creating the peak body for Young Carer support in the country and she has had interest and requests to take her political prowess and innovative programs around the world to countries including New Zealand, United States of America, United Kingdom, Netherlands, India and Trinidad and Tobago.
Now, aged 25, Madeleine has been nominated for various young achiever and leadership award. She has been invited to the Forbes Under 30 Summit in USA and been honoured at Australia Day celebrations at Government House. Madeleine has mobilised communities to stand behind marginalized and often forgotten young people in the community. Most recently, Madeleine was named as a Queens Young Leader for 2017 and headed to Buckingham Palace to receive her award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth to recognise her non-stop mission to change lives and stand up for one of the most vulnerable groups of young people in Australia. In 2016 Madeleine has published her first book; My Brother is Sick Again – dealing with the challenges that face Young Carers. Madeleine is an international expert in the topic of Young Carers and Special Siblings having been a keynote speaker at the International Young Carers Conference in Sweden in 2017 and featured in a countless of videos and articles on the topic. Madeleine is also a consultant that parliamentary secretaries come to when discussing young carer policy reform and looking at innovative programs that can support these Young Carers moving forward to relieve pressure on the Government but also ensure these kids are empowered and feel loved. Every child deserves to have a childhood and Madeleine has literally given up her childhood to care for her family but also to care for every child who has ever had to care for someone else.
Previous Speaking Engagements
- A Celebration of Good Acts, Woolworths, Keynote presenter
- Women of the World Conference, Panel member and WOW Bites Presenter
- On Purpose, Project Rockit, Keynote presenter
- Mother's Day Event, Twelve Batmitzvah Program, Panel Presenter
- Annual Conference, LGPro, Short Talks Presenter
- Hack for the Heart, Girls In Tech, Presenter
- International Young Carers Conference, Sweden, Keynote speaker
- CEO Institute, Future CEO 103, Keynote Presentation
- CEO Institute, CEO Syndicate No 58, Keynote Presentation
- RMIT Entrepreneurship Association, Presenter
- Melbourne Knowledge Week, City of Melbourne, Presenter
- Cheltenham Rotary Club, Keynote Speaker
- Education Changemakers EC17, Workshop facilitator
- Telstra Carers Week, Panel member
- Young Achievers Program, Jewish Care, Keynote Speaker
- B'nai B'rith, Keynote Speaker
- Asia 21 Summit, Common Purpose, Panel presenter
- People and Culture workshop, Medibank, Keynote presenter
- Christmas Dinner, Victorian Vernier Society, Keynote Speaker
- Awesome Foundation, Pitch
- Youth Charity Society, Melbourne University, Keynote speaker
- Entrepreneurship Week, RMIT University, Panel member
- Bentleigh Moorabbin Central Rotary Club, Keynote speaker
- Education Changemakers EC16 Conference, Workshop facilitator
- The Funding Network, Sydney, Pitch
- 10x10 Philanthropy, Sydney, Pitch
- Access Monash Champions, Keynote Speaker
- iCan Program, Stand Up Australia, Workshop facilitator
- Leadership Diversity and Community Involvement, Rotary Youth Leadership Award, Presenter
- Australia and New Zealand Social Work and Welfare Education Research Symposium, Panel member
- Inner Eastern Local Learning and Employment Network, Youth Week documentary, Expert Speaker
- Scholarships Presentation Evening, RMIT University, Keynote Speaker
- Brighton View Club, Keynote Speaker
- Donor Engagement Presentation, RMIT University, Panel member