Overview

A young carer is a person, up to 25 years, who provides regular and sustained care, and assistance to another person without payment for their caring role.
Young carers can be found in many different family situations, from intact family units, to single parent households and/or living with their grandparents or extended families. This page has a factsheet and videos about being a young carer.

Topic Videos

Starting A Conversation - Young Carers in WA

This is a pioneering documentary for Australian teachers and students. Starting a Conversation was produced by two Young Carers in response to a lack of understanding they experienced during their school years. Over the course of this production, they met with and heard the personal experiences of Young Carers from ages 11 to 20.

  • Author: Carers WA

Carers WA

Stories on this Topic

Featured Story (image)

What is chronic fatigue Syndrome?

I have chronic fatigue Syndrome. In this blog 6 part series I take you on a look inside just what that means from symptoms to managing it to stigmas I live with. Check out part one here http://www.tuneinnotout.com/blog/my-story-living-with-chronic-illness-pt-1

  • Author: Bethwyn
  • Upload Date: 2011-11-29

Blog series written by Bethwyn

Factsheet

Provided by FESTofALL

This factsheet is created by FESTofALL. FESTofALL is a series of free events in every state, open to all young and their support networks. FESTofALL provides an opportunity for young carers to recognise their good work, meet other people in similar situations, build support networks and have some fun.

Being a Young Carer

Who is a young carer?

A young carer is a person, up to 25 years, who provides regular and sustained care, and assistance to another person without payment for their caring role.
Young carers can be found in many different family situations, from intact family units, to single parent households and/or living with their grandparents or extended families.
They can be found all socio-economic groups and from varied cultural backgrounds. Some young carers find themselves new to the role while others have never experienced a life without caring.

Did you know...

  • 170,600 Australians under 18 are young carers
  • 380,000 Australians under 25 provide care for a family member
  • Of these 380,000, 20,000 are primary carers who provide the main support for their care recipients
  • One-third to one-half live in the rural and remote areas of Australia
  • During 2006-07, one third of young carers looked after a person with a mental illness and just under one quarter cared for a person with a physical disability. A significant number of young people were also caring for family members who are chronically or terminally ill (15 per cent) or have an intellectual disability (11 per cent)
  • 66 per cent of young carers reported they were unable to participate in school with 78 per cent reporting insufficient energy in the classroom
  • 54 per cent of young carers find themselves sleep deprived
  • More than half (51 per cent) said it was difficult to make and keep friends , as a result of their caring responsibilities, with many saying they felt socially isolated
  • On average, young carers care for an average of 27 hours per week

So, what does a carer do?

You may be in charge of cooking and packing lunches

Caring roles vary; no two carers are the same. Some people offer highly physical care (bathing, transporting) through to less physical care (cooking and cleaning, shopping for the family, paying bills and administering medication). Some carers also offer mental and emotional support (monitoring moods and providing company). You might consider yourself a young carer if you have a friend, sibling, parent, grandparent or neighbour who has a disability or illness and you:

  • Assist with administering medication, feeding, dressing, or making sure the bill have been paid
  • Help your family by caring for siblings, shopping for the family, doing extra washing or preparing meals

How might a young carer feel?

Young carers are young people who perform adult responsibilities, while still developing physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially. Many young carers feel proud that they can provide support to their families; however undertaking numerous adult responsibilities can take its toll.
When they aren’t provided with adequate support, children and young people may struggle with going to school, keeping up with their homework, spending time with friends, or getting a job.

Young carers can experience high levels of stress and worry, impacting on their physical and emotional wellbeing. For this reason it’s important that young carers understand that taking care of their own health and wellbeing is a vital element of caring for others.

What advice do you give to young carers?

It’s important you look after your own health. Ways to do this are:

  • Take some time out. Spending a little bit of time on your own, listening to music, reading or hanging out with friends can help with the other stresses in your life
  • Get enough sleep. All of us struggle more with life’s stresses when we haven’t had enough sleep. Young carers in particular can find it difficult to sleep. Try going to bed at the same time every day. If you find it hard to get to sleep because of worry – write all the things you’re worrying about down, so you don’t think about them while trying to sleep
  • Eat well. Eat breakfast before school or work; try to prepare your lunch the night before. Contact the Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres on 1800 052 222. They may be able to help organise meals when the person you care for is in hospital, or needs extra support
  • Exercise. Exercising can give you some time out for yourself, help you sleep well and can assist with high levels of stress

I think my friend or family member may be a young carer, how can I help them?

Many young people help care for someone in their family. For many, it’s a positive experience and all they might need is a bit of recognition (“you’re doing a great job”) and support (“how about I take over for a bit so you can spend some time with friends?”). Introducing them to the idea of being a young carer might be helpful in letting them know that there are others out there and that help is available.

For some young carers, caring can be a pretty tough experience – they can feel alone and believe that no one knows or cares. Others can feel worried, stressed, angry, afraid or ashamed. Letting them vent, letting them lean on you and connecting them with support, are great ways of helping.

As a family member you might be able to lessen the load or talk through any concerns you might have with the whole family. Sometimes when times are tough families aren’t aware of how others are travelling or that support is available. Contact your local Carers Association for more information on how you might have this kind of conversation. Here are some other simple ways you can show your support:

  • Offer your assistance as a carer, even if it’s just for an hour
  • Spend time with the young carer; just going out for coffee or seeing a movie can alleviate stress
  • Let them know you’re there to listen and provide support
  • Encourage them to take some time out for themselves
  • Let them know there’s nothing wrong with asking for help
  • Encourage them to look after their own physical and emotional wellbeing

What kind of help is available to young carers?

Many young carers feel proud of the care they provide, however some feel isolated. It is important
that young carers know where to get support and information that can help them with their caring
responsibilities. Key resources include:

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