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Young Carers

Young carers are children and young people who care for or help care within a family affected by the illness, disability, AOD or mental health issue of one or more of its members or friends. Carers Australia conservatively estimates that there are at least 388,000 young carers in Australia.[1] There are approximately 11,500 young carers in Canberra which accounts for 10% of the ACT’s youth population.[2] Young carers may experience positive impacts of caring providing them with practical skills and a sense of responsibility that aid in the journey to independence and assist them throughout life. Young carers also report having stronger relationships with family members, greater sense of achievement, connectedness and feelings of fulfilment. However, young carers may also experience negative impacts of caring including financial hardship, exclusion from opportunities and activities, and an overall impact on the wellbeing of the young person and their families.

The roles which a young carer may undertake are quite varied. In their fact sheet Young Carers: The Facts, CYCLOPSACT state that:

Young carers are responsible for providing health care treatment ranging from dressings through to catheter bags; emotional support and assistance in the maintenance of a healthy, organised household. Young carers’ responsibilities range from cleaning and cooking through to more major tasks such as bathing, dressing and providing assistance with toileting etc to incapacitated family members. Some young carers caring for a family member with a mental health condition are also required to provide other types of support sometimes including restraint of suicidal relatives, and emotional and behavioural monitoring. Often providing primary care, young carers take on significant caring responsibilities.[3]

Though young carers account for 10% of Australia’s youth population they do not account for 10% of mainstream service reception.[4] Young carers have historically been forgotten, ignored or excluded from processes, programs, services and supports. Workers may sometimes feel they lack the skills or resources to support a young person caring for a parent or family member. But it’s everyone’s responsibility to work to remove the barriers that exclude young carers from accessing the opportunities they deserve.

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