Text reads: Children and young people with disability.

CYDA as my first employer

young person presenting and standing behind a lecturn with a microphone one one side and mini flags of first nation, torres strait and australian flags. Young person is wearing black headphones around their neck and a black print shirt. There is a cyda banner in the background.



Written by Xander Wroblewski for the DREAM Employment Network.

Working on the CYDA Youth Council was my first job. 

I had spent many months trying to find a way to “fit in” with employers who employed school-age students. The typical employer wanted a commitment of availability of 5 shifts per week, and expected a certain level of physical capability to perform a wide range of duties. Due to my disability and physical therapy commitments (to allow me to function) I fell short in their eyes at the first expectation. 

I then also failed, in their eyes, on the second expectation. Once I mentioned adjustments required to the work environment, I was never called back in for a follow up interview. 

I find it necessary to mention this as, in contrast, CYDA embraced me as a person, and for the first time in over 6 months of searching, I was seen, not as “too difficult”, but as a worthy employee who was keen to embrace employment. 

I felt completely supported in my time with the Youth Council, and at every meeting or event they regularly checked in with each of us to ensure our needs were met.

I’m not sure I can pinpoint anything I think CYDA could have done better, as I was welcomed, heard, and supported to push through my insecurities and anxiety.

For me, doing things differently, well, I wish I had been able to find my confidence a little earlier on. I feel like I have just started to feel comfortable and confident and my time on the Youth Council has come to an end. 

I hope my connection to working with CYDA has not though. I hope to find ways to further my confidence and skills with their support.

Looking back on my experience, I wish I had known more about companies like CYDA. I had almost given up hope I would find an employer that was willing to see past my disability and really see me. I had almost given up hope of finding an employer to build my confidence and provide skills and support so I had the opportunity to feel valued and contribute. 

Sadly, I have seen many young people with disability do just that. They give up all hope after constantly being pushed aside and made to feel not worthy of consideration by most employers. 

I hope CYDA continues to reach out to young disabled teens, providing what I would say is a “life changing” opportunity to young people at a very vulnerable time in our lives.

I hope CYDA has the capacity to educate other employers, particularly offering after-school employment. Unfortunately, most of the common employers of young students seem to have no idea how to work with disabled youth, or desire to do so.

headshot of young person grinning at camera.

About the author:

Xander, age 16, is a former member of CYDA’s Youth Council.