A leadership program for young people with a disability has received funding from the NDIS. The Emerging Young Leaders Program helps young people to develop their communication and leadership skills. The funding will ensure the program continues for another three years.

While one in ten young people in Australia have a disability this doesn’t often translate to a voice. Instead, representation in decision-making and opportunities for leadership are lacking. The Emerging Young Leaders Program works to change that.

‘Disabled young leaders can do whatever they want, we just need to help smash the barriers in their way,’ said Simon Green of Youth Disability Advocacy Services (YDAS).

The program will encourage young people to conquer those barriers by helping them to gain the confidence and the skills to be leaders. In addition, it will help participants to develop advocacy skills. It will also support them to find opportunities for employment and volunteering.

YDAS and Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) joined forces to secure funding from the NDIS. The funding will also allow YDAS and CYDA to provide training and support to take the leadership program around the country.

Co-designing a more inclusive community

‘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,’ said Mija Gwyn, YDAS Manager.

The Emerging Young Leaders Program will see participants take part in four workshops. The workshops develop the leadership, teamwork and communication skills of participants. In addition, they aim to improve the participant’s understanding of access, inclusion and advocacy. Participants will also learn from other leaders in the space.

Shaping their own futures

For CYDA CEO, Mary Sayers, the program is about far more than developing leadership skills.

‘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 future,’ Sayers said.

The program is free for young people with disability aged between 14 and 19. For more information about the program visit YDAS: www.yacvic.org.au/get-involved/are-you-12-to-25/youngleaders/

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