Our Staff

Leah van Poppel


Leah has been involved in disability advocacy of one kind or another for most of her adult life. For the past 10 years she has worked professionally within the disability sector, particularly in systemic advocacy. Leah was involved in the early lobbying for the NDIS and it remains a special passion in her work.

Leah is deafblind (partially deaf and partially blind), loves reading, writing and drinking wine, not always in that order. She comes with Seeing Eye Dog Lisa, a golden retriever with the attitude of a princess and the howl of a wolf.


Lauren Henley
Policy and Research Officer


Lauren was launched into the world of disability after losing her sight in a motor vehicle accident at age 20. Since this time, she has gone on to hold several roles within the disability sector; including National Policy Officer for Blind Citizens Australia and Advisor to the Disability Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission. In 2014, Lauren was one of seven young people with disability to be selected to represent Australia at the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations. Lauren has experience in policy, advocacy, community consultation and training and facilitation.


Fiona Downing
Human Rights and Advocacy Officer


Fiona’s background is in youth justice and she is currently studying law part-time. She has also worked at the Victorian Ombudsman and the Federal Court.


Peggy Soo
Engagement and Information Officer


Peggy came to YDAS in 2016 as the project officer in school transitions before becoming the engagement and information officer. Peggy and her lovely guide dog Tessa are travelling around Victoria to deliver workshops to young people with disabilities to help them be ready for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Peggy has held various roles to do with disability and young people, teaching and working with different advocacy groups. In her spare time, Peggy loves to watch good live music, enjoy theatre performances and catch up with friends.


Stacey Christie
Digital and Content Officer


Stacey joined the YDAS team in January 2017, having been involved with the disability community for most of her life. She has bethlem myopathy, a type of muscular dystrophy, and has always been passionate about disability advocacy. She was the National Youth Representative for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in New Zealand for six years, working with young people and representing their views on a national council.

Stacey studied design and journalism at university in New Zealand and the United States, and now works for YDAS as the Digital and Content Officer. Outside of work you’ll find her travelling, taking photos and drinking tea.