Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS) and Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) have partnered to secure almost $1 million over three years from the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s ILC Individual Capacity Building (ICB) grants program for a cutting edge Emerging Young Leaders Program (EYLP).

The EYLP supports disabled young people to become the next generation of leaders in their schools, communities and workplaces.

One in ten young people have a disability, yet they are significantly underrepresented in positions of leadership and decision-making in Australia.

“Disabled young leaders can do whatever they want, we just need to help smash the barriers in their way,” said Simon Green, the YDAS Project Officer who led the development of the EYLP pilot over the past year, co-designing and co-delivering it with disabled young people.

He was recently awarded the 2019 National Award for Disability Leadership in Innovation for the initiative, which is the only dedicated leadership program in Australia of its kind.

The EYLP works with disabled young people to develop the confidence and skills to be leaders, such as communication and advocacy. Following the program, graduates are supported 1-on-1 to find more opportunities to pursue their leadership goals.

“The program taught me how to communicate better and how I can be inclusive and acknowledge others’ experiences that are different from my own,” says Tash, a graduate from the first round of the EYLP pilot.

The YDAS and CYDA partnership will allow the EYLP to continue to run in Victoria, and include training and support for other states and territories so that the program can become national.

“We are very excited to receive funding which will allow us to expand EYLP. The program is unique in its approach, which fully embeds the voice of disabled young people in the program as co-designers and co-facilitators, and empowers them to act as leaders,” says Mija Gwyn, YDAS Manager. 

The graduates of the program will also have opportunities to play a role in CYDA’s national programs and governance, including the first ever National Young People with Disability Summit 2020, which will be designed and led by disabled young people.

“This funding will enable CYDA and YDAS to work together to give young people opportunities on a state and national platform in unprecedented ways. This is crucial to ensure governments and the community can hear the voice of young people with disability, so they can shape their own futures,” says Mary Sayers, CEO of CYDA.

Find out more about the Emerging Young Leaders Program and join the waitlist here.

Media Contact:

Thomas Feng, Youth Affairs Council Victoria Media and Communications Manager, 0431285275

Simon Green, YDAS Project Officer, is available for comment.

About YDAS

The Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS) is a state-wide advocacy service for disabled young people and a key service of Youth Affairs Council Victoria. As well as offering an individual advocacy service, YDAS undertakes systemic advocacy to ensure the rights of disabled young people (aged 12 – 25) are met.

About CYDA

Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) is the national representative organisation for children and young people with disability (aged 0 – 25) and the national organisation for advocacy and representation. CYDA has over 5,000 members, the majority being families of children and young people with disability.