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Young carers

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 people under 25 years of age 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 has a disability, chronic illness, mental health problem or other condition connected with a need for care, support or supervision.

(Prof Saul Becker, 2000)

Young carer Leanne shares her story about caring for her brother Charlie who lives with autism.

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.

Mary Pilkinton is a 15 year old young carer who was Highly Commended in the 2015 NSW Carers Awards. She talks about being a young carer and what receiving a Highly Commended NSW Carers Award means to her.

Information for young carers

The Carers NSW Young Carer Program website has helpful information for 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. You will also find information about the Who cares? app at www.youngcarersnsw.org.au.

The Australian Government has launched a service for people who care for someone with a disability, chronic illness, dementia, mental illness, or who are frail due to age. Carer Gateway will make it easier for young carers to find targeted information, advice and services in a separate young carer section. For more information visit www.carergateway.gov.au.

Support for young carers

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.

You can also contact your local FACS Information, Referral and Intake team for more information.

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.