Sometimes young people have responsibilities to care for someone – usually a family member.
Who are young carers?
The NSW Government describes young carers as:
'Children and young persons under 25 who provide care, assistance or support to another family member.
They carry out, often on a regular basis, significant or substantial caring tasks and assume a level of responsibility that would usually be associated with an adult.
The person receiving care is often a parent but can be a sibling, grandparent or other relative who is disabled, has some chronic illness, mental health problem or other condition connected with a need for care, support or supervision.'
(Prof Saul Becker, 2000)
What do young carers do?
Young carers may provide a wide range of practical and emotional help to the person they care for, including:
- accompanying them to medical appointments
- providing social and emotional support
- helping with personal care and mobility
- administering or reminding about medication
- buying groceries, cooking, cleaning, managing household finances
- helping to arrange services.
It's important to remember that they will be carrying out their caring tasks on top of going to school and doing homework etc. Young carers often find that every aspect of their life is affected by their caring role.
Information for young carers
The Carers NSW Young Carer Program website gives helpful information to young carers, including how to:
- find support
- talk to others
- manage stress
- take time out.
The site provides activities, a chat room (discussion board), counselling and talk link to help young people stay in touch with other young carers and people who understand the ups and downs of being a young carer.
Getting some support
Young carers and their families can receive support from a number of sources. The Carers NSW Young Carer Program can provide information, advice and counselling to young carers, and Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres (CRCCs) can help young carers and their families with respite support.
Young carers may also be eligible for financial support from the Australian Government Department of Human Services. See the Human Services website for more information.
Another suggestion is to talk to ADHC about respite services. Contact your local ADHC Information, Referral and Intake (IRI) team for details.
Support for professionals
If you are working with a young carer, or a family you think might have a young carer, visit the NSW Government young carer website for professionals – www.youngcarers.nsw.gov.au.
There are resources on this website, including an eLearning tool, that can help you to identify and support young carers, as well as ideas on how to communicate with children and young people. You may find this useful particularly if it’s not something you do every day.