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CIT Student Snapshot: Daen's Story

Published: 16 Aug 2016


Looking sharp in a suit and tie, Daen's appearance now gives away nothing of the backstory he reveals.

"Growing up in Greater Western Sydney, football had been everything to me; I played Aussie Rules and I was good at it. I was selected in representative teams, even to play nationally, but the pressure to live up to the expectation placed on me got to me and I stopped playing.

"I lost my dad to heroin, that’s when I really started losing track. I was a confused kid, I got in trouble with the law; I had a lot of questions without answers. Without football I had nothing - no direction," Daen says.

Daen moved to Canberra with his young family to look after his mother who was ill, but a change of scenery wasn't the end of his struggles. Still in an environment of substance use, struggling with personal issues and homelessness, Daen says he was often in trouble for fighting and ending up in court.

Daen knew he had to make change in his life but admits, "It's really hard to change when your whole life has been a negative story." Still, he went online and found out about a youth work course offered at CIT Bruce. He came in to speak to CIT Yurauna Centre, CIT's Indigenous education and support centre and signed up to study a Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs.

Studying at CIT Yurauna Centre opened new doors for Daen and helped him make the change he knew he needed.

"The CIT Yuruana Centre teachers and staff were really helpful and always welcomed you with open arms. Studying there and coming in to the happy faces and happy people there was the highlight in my life at the time, I dreaded going home."

Daen had a desire to help others "not muck up the way I did". He acknowledges he always had positive influences in his life in his hardworking uncles and aunts, his mother and his grandfather; it just took him a while to stop rebelling and start listening.

"I was lucky to have that influence in my life reminding me it's up to you to set the standard for your life," he says.

Daen now works at the Aboriginal Legal Service as a field officer, and was blown away to stumble on the fact his grandfather had founded the Aboriginal Legal Service in Walgett.

"I like to be able to give back to the community and make change. I'm one of those fellows who likes to think positive and I tell others if you've got a goal, don't give up on that goal; you might just need to change your plan of attack."

Daen has his own goals he's working towards, including a dream to set up a program for troubled youth that offers a positive environment where they can express themselves in hip-hop and graffiti art.

His final advice to others trying to make change is simple, but his life demonstrates the truth of it.

"Just keep at it, it will all come good."

Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs (CHC43215).