At age 18, Georgia Retallick started The Y-House Foundation in 2010 after seeing a TV interview with a young girl named Angela Barker. At age 16 Angela was the victim of a violent attack from an ex-boyfriend that left her with an acquired brain injury. Due to a lack of care and rehabilitation options Angela was forced to live in aged care.
The most concerning idea of young people being in nursing homes is the rate of deterioration that they face in such an unstimulating environment. After initial research it became clear to Georgia that there was a gap in the system. It appeared that young people suffering from traumatic brain and spinal injuries as well as early-onset degenerative diseases were not only unsupported in their rehabilitation and recovery, but forced to live in aged care facilities and nursing homes due to a lack of age appropriate care options.
The Y-House Foundation is committed to providing accommodation, care and rehabilitation options for young people with serious brain and spinal injuries and degenerative diseases. Their focus is on providing appropriate and stimulating environments for these young people to live and recover in.
The main project that the organisation is currently working on is the delivery of their very first Y-House.
Here at Lou Lou Lips we're huge fans of Georgia and the team and everything they have achieved with Y-House so we couldn't wait to ask this inspiring woman some questions about her journey so far.
Hey Georgia, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for our Goddess spotlight!
I am a huge fan of Y-House and the amazing things you have worked to achieve over the years to make such a difference for such an important cause!
Tell us a little bit about the Y-house Foundation and why you started.
Well I started Y-House back in 2010 when I learned about young people living in nursing homes. It was a real shock to me that people as young as 16 with brain and spinal injuries and the early onset of degenerative diseases were living in facilities set up for the elderly.
After I got over the initial shock, the whole issue just made me mad and I decided I couldn’t ignore it, so I thought I’d try to help! I started The Y-House Foundation Inc., an organisation aimed at supporting young people at risk of living in aged care. We’re planning to build a transitional rehabilitation centre in Melbourne to support young people transitioning home or out into the community post an injury or diagnosis.
Notting Hill – 100% And I am not joking I have probably seen it over 100 times!
Red wine or white?
Morning person or night person?
I am definitely a night person. I am most productive around that 9pm-1am time frame – that’s when the creativity flows! I’d much rather stay up till like 3am working on something than get up early to do it!
If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
LONDON! I love London and everything about it! But it is winter in London at the moment, so maybe somewhere warmer – I’m desperate to go to the Maldives
Where and how do you work best?
I work best sitting in bed with my laptop at 11pm. Because Y-house is totally volunteer run, most of our volunteers have full time jobs, including me. So it’s not unusual to get an email from me at 2am, what is unusual is a response from anyone at 2am.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Don’t let other people’s negativity hold you back, let it fuel you further. This has become my mantra. The more people tell me I can’t do something or what I’m doing won't work – the harder I push to prove them wrong.
“Be the change you want to see in the world” Gandhi. I’ve always loved this quote and it’s how I try and live my life. I don’t feel like I have the right to complain about something unless I’m actively trying to fix it or make a change – that’s certainly what lead to me starting Y-House.
Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
When it comes to Y-House, my biggest inspiration is the people I meet and the amazing stories that they have to tell. Angela Barker was the inspiration behind starting Y-House. She was 16 when she was forced to live in aged care due to a brain injury. Her courage and humour has always inspired me to keep going with Y-House and now I’m also lucky to call her my friend.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
There have been so many! I think the very first challenge I faced was proving that I was serious about helping young people and was committed to the cause. It kind of felt like people thought I was just going to get bored and move on, but with each year that I stuck around and continued emailing people and knocking on doors finally I started to earn some of that trust. I think it was the whole ‘actions speak louder than words’ principle that I needed to prove!
What’s your best advice for handling criticism?
The first step is accepting that other people might be able to see things differently, or see things you can’t see, because you’re so close. I think handling criticism when you’re as close to something as I am to Y-House is so hard, because it’s like your child – and you feel like no one should be criticising your child! But constructive criticism can be beyond useful! Recently I received some constructive criticism that was really hard to swallow at first, but now that I’ve taken the time to think about it and digest it, I think is really going to change the way I work for the better.
What’s next for you and Y-House?
I am so excited for 2018!!! As a team, we’ve recently been reflecting on our goals and values and have taken some time to restate our objectives, which has been really satisfying. In the new year we’re looking forward to launching some exciting new services and programs and sharing the stories of the people that inspire our work. I feel like it’s going to be a big year!
If a young girl or boy walked up to you asking for your advice on life, what would it be?
Take life by the horns, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something or a dream is too big! Try everything and see what works for you. The older I get the more I realise just how lucky I am to be here and to be doing something I love. It’s the simple things.
For us, lipstick is something, which gives us that extra boost of confidence, what gives you confidence to take on each and every day?
For me, it’s knowledge that gives me confidence! Someone told me the other day that they thought I was a great public speaker – which was weird because as a teenager I was terrified of public speaking, like can’t sleep for a week terrified. But I’ve realised that the more I know and learn about, the more confident I am everyday.
That and my power pantsuit. I’ll never be more confident than in my blue power pantsuit haha.
You can find out more about Georgia and The Y-House Foundation here