Tess grew up in Ballarat, sharing time between parents who had separated and her two older brothers, who were always very protective of her and spent the time to share experiences and involve Tess in their day to day activities.

Tess draws a lot of inspiration from her childhood and the support she received from her family, in particular, her mother. “Not a day goes by when I don’t draw on my mother’s inspiration, strength, determination and willingness to help the people she cares about, no matter what she’s going through herself.” It must be in the genes because if you were to ask anyone who knows Tess what are her personal attributes, they would invariably say that she is very supportive, caring, intelligent and determined to succeed. The word inspirational comes to mind.

At school, Tess was “a little bit of a teacher’s pet”. Because of her disability, she found other kids to be not as accepting of her as the teachers and support staff, so she tended to spend most of her time in the company of adults. However, Tess enjoyed her school years and continues to study at Deakin University, studying for a degree in social services, with a long-term career goal to work in disability, LGBT advocacy, or case management.

“Happiness is our own responsibility – Every day is full of opportunities to accept or reject our happiness”.

It has been a big year for Tess, with the help of IDS she has made a move away from Ballarat and now lives in the centre of Melbourne, a location that gives her access to pursue many of her interests that include animal welfare, music, shopping, health and healthy lifestyles. “I still go back to Ballarat at weekends but the town does not offer the range of opportunities socially. I love my apartment in the city and am living the dream”.

“Equality for all people, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, race, ability or disability. And the same equality for animals.”

It very soon becomes obvious when you meet Tess that she is a person who has the has the drive and determination to create her future.