Who are young carers?
A young carer is a child or young person 25 years or under who provides support for a family member who has a long term disability, mental illness, other illness, drug or alcohol problem. Young carers usually have more responsibilities than other young people their age.
How many young carers are there in Australia?
Heaps! The Australian Bureau of Statistics (2003) tells us that there are approximately 347,700 young carers (5.2% of all people under 25) in Australia who provide support for a family member who has a disability, mental illness or other long term illness.
What do young carers do?
Young carers often do lots of different things, it really depends on each person’s situation. Young carers may undertake tasks ranging from cooking, cleaning, paying bills, through to minding siblings and supporting the person with an illness or disability. Sometimes the tasks are more personal and may include helping with showering or taking someone to the toilet. Young carers may also have to assist with medications and deal with emergencies.
While each caring situation is different, the experiences and challenges of young carers and their families can be similar. Young carers often say that the emotional side of caring is the most difficult challenge. They can feel sad, confused and frustrated, as well as worry about their loved ones. So it’s not only the ‘doing’ stuff that can be hard, it’s the emotional aspect as well.
What are the impacts of caring?
Caring at a young age can have a big impact on young carers, and can affect all parts of their lives, eg. school life, social life, and family life. It can also affect how young carers feel about themselves. The impact of caring depends very much on each individual situation. For instance, a young carer struggling alone to carry out tasks greater than would be normally expected of a young person can go on to experience difficult physical and emotional issues.
However, a young carer helping with the care of a family member may also gain strength and self-esteem from the experience. Young carers often develop strong family bonds and become more sensitive to the difficulties other people go through. And it’s not just the caring that can be challenging. There are other things like feeling isolated and sometimes not having enough money in the family.
How can Young Carers get help?
The Young Carer Program is run by the Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre and covers Ipswich, Logan, Beaudesert, Beenleigh, Boonah, Upper Coomera, Somerset Region & Laidley. They provide support to the family as a whole, by focussing on the young person. When you are caring for someone…the little things that you have to do tend to add up over time, leaving you feeling tired and run-down. Getting help with these things can sometimes make a big difference …..
You can get help with:
- Respite – this means getting someone to care for your relative while you have a break
- Domestic assistance – help with house cleaning, cooking meals etc
- Transport – for sporting events or social activities
- Tutoring – to help you get on top of that subject you are struggling with
- Camps – need a change of scenery – ask about our upcoming camps
- Workshops – First aid, cooking, stress management – just to name a few
- Referral – helping you to find the right service to help the person you are caring for
- Counselling – sometimes you will just need to talk to someone.
So contact the Young Carer Support Officer at Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre on 1800 052 222 (freecall) or email us firstname.lastname@example.org or call the mobile on 0404 801 405. It is best to try and call between 8.30am and 4.30pm – but if you have an emergency you can call the 1800 number after hours and you will be able to speak with someone who can provide assistance.