Who are Young Carers?
‘Young Carers’ are young people who help care for a parent, a brother or sister, their own child, a grandparent, other relative, or maybe a friend who has a disability, mental illness or chronic illness, or who is frail and aged.
Every young carer’s situation is different. For example a young person may become a carer for a parent who has a chronic illness such as a mental health problem or substance misuse issue; or they may need to support their parents to care for a sibling who has a disability or illness.
Young carers often perform tasks not normally undertaken by children of their age. Caring responsibilities can sometimes impact on a young person’s ability to attend school and have a ‘normal childhood’ experience.
Caring responsibilities may include tasks such as:
- paying bills
- helping with showering and dressing
- giving medication
- providing emotional support.
Did you know…
There is on average, 2 or 3 young carers in every classroom in Australia.
Tasmanian Carers Action Plan 2013 – 2018
In 2013, the Department of Education signed up to the Tasmanian Carers Action Plan 2013-2018 (PDF,) and associated Tasmanian Carer Policy. This important initiative formally acknowledges the Tasmanian Government’s commitment to increase the recognition of carers and improve services and support for carers in Tasmania.
The Department of Education recognises the responsibilities that young carers face, and supports student carers to balance their study and caring roles to ensure that they can remain engaged in education.
Support for Student Carers
If you are a student carer, it is really important that you talk to your teacher or school social worker so that they are aware and can help you. Staying at school is important and there are many ways your school can support you to stay at school whilst continuing your role as a carer.
- you can talk to a trusted adult or friend about your caring role
- help is available to you at school
- there are many other students like you who have caring responsibilities
- you don’t have to manage on your own
- it’s important to care for yourself and ensure that you stay fit and healthy
- there are support services available.
Have a look at our Support for Students with Carer Responsibilities brochure (PDF, 240KB) which provides information and support to students who are carers.
Education and Training for Student Carers
A range of courses are available to assist carers in their caring role. Some courses aim to provide carers with skills required for the caring role itself, others provide information on specific conditions (such as dementia), and some focus on maintaining the health and wellbeing of the carer.
A few examples of courses include:
- Taking Care of Yourself
- First Aid and CPR Training
- Mental Health First Aid
- Understanding Dementia
- Safety Essentials
- Suicide Prevention
- Surviving Carer Stress
- Change after the caring role
- Understanding Change, Loss and Grief
- Coping with Bereavement.
Contact Carers Tasmania for further information about suitable courses, workshops and support groups in your area.
Post-School Training and Further Education
Whether you want to go on to further study at university, complete a certificate qualification at TAFE, study an adult literacy course, or look into an apprenticeship or traineeship – there are plenty of pathways to continue (or get back into) your education and get the qualifications and skills you need.
From 2016, Year 7 to 12 students are able to access My Education. My Education is a new approach to career education, which supports students to identify their personal interests, values, strengths and aspirations, and teaches them how to use this knowledge to make decisions about their future learning, work and life opportunities. My Education will assist students to plan their future career pathways and identify their preferred post-school training and further education options.
Carer Support Services
There are a number of community services which provide support and assistance for young carers. Click on the links below to explore which organisations can support you in your role as a young carer:
- Carers Australia
- Carers Tasmania
- Anglicare Tasmania– Taz Kids Clubs and Champs Camps
- Kids Helpline
- Lifeline– ReachOut
- National Children’s and Youth Law Centre
- National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
Support for Schools and Teachers
A whole-of-school approach to managing the needs of young carers may impact positively on their ability to learn and their learning into the future. Senior leadership staff, teachers, support staff and administrative staff should be aware of the challenges which young carers face and the possible impact on their learning and associated outcomes. Some of the challenges faced by young people may include:
- Getting to school
- Arriving at school on time
- Concentrating at school
- Eating proper meals
- Completing homework on time
- Finding money to buy school uniforms, books, or equipment
- Spending time with friends.
Many young carers say that they enjoy their caring role. However, we know that young carers who are not supported often face significant barriers to their own physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Resources and Information
The following resources may assist you in identifying a young carer in your school community and supporting them to ensure they have the opportunity to continue to learn and reach their potential.
- Support for Students with Carer Responsibilities (PDF,240KB) – is a brochure that was developed by the department to provide information and support to students who are carers.
- Supporting Young Carers in Secondary School– provides information on how to identify a young carer at your school. This resource also provides information regarding the impact and benefit that teachers and continued education have on young carers.
- Young Carers in Education – Supporting Rural and Remote Young Carers (PDF, 1.8MB)– is a resource to assist schools with managing the needs of young carers and to raise awareness of the unique challenges faced by young carers in rural and remote Australia.
- Keeping Families & Children in Mind – eLearning course– is a free course, which supports learners to develop a family-sensitive approach when working with families where a parent has a mental illness. The course will take approximately 6-10 hours to complete.