Real Life

What is a young carer? Financial support and resources

''The young carers bursary has been a new lease on life for me''
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A young carer is someone under 25 providing unpaid care and support to a family member or friend with a disability, physical or mental illness or substance dependency.

The problem is young carers are usually overlooked or ignored as the care they provide is seen as the norm.

According to the Young Carers Network, there are currently 2.65 million unpaid carers in Australia, 235,000 are young carers.

We spoke to young carer Lucas, 19 who has recently received a Young Carers bursary funded by the Commonwealth government.

A lot of young carers are siblings who have stepped into a ‘parent’ role.

(Credit: Getty)

The Young Carer Bursary will offer 1,592 grants of up to $3,768 to assist young people with continuing their educational journey while providing unpaid care.

Lucas’ older brother was diagnosed with Autism and an intellectual disability when he was young, and his mother suffers from chronic migraines, PTSD and depression due to an abusive relationship.

He describes that since high school when his mum’s symptoms became too much, he would “step in as the ‘parent’ of the house”.

Lucas, now 19, has been able to secure a full-time work-from-home role, allowing him to fulfil his carer responsibilities for both his mother and brother.

Resources on how to know if you are or know a young carer are available on their website.

(Credit: Young Carers Network)

Young carers often feel the need to get a job as soon as possible to take financial stress off their parents.

Lucas said, “The young carers bursary has been a new lease on life for me.”

“It allowed me to pay for school fees and gave me the flexibility to step back and not take every shift I was offered.”

“At the time of receiving the bursary, I was working 2 casual jobs and the bursary allowed me to take time off and breathe.”

For siblings or friends, the caring role feels like it should just be expected but the truth is it is still unpaid care.

Lucas wants to stress that “Though it isn’t as commonly discussed people will associate caring and carers with parental care or palliative care. Though palliative care is one of the common roles in the world of care, it’s not the norm or status quo.”

Other young carers can be children caring for their parents due to physical or mental illness.

(Credit: Getty)

The obvious is that 1592 grants aren’t enough for the 235,000 young carers in Australia currently.

The Albanese Labor Government announced a funding boost of almost $10 million to allow Carers Australia to increase financial assistance to young carers so they can continue their education while caring for a loved one.

“As amazing as this bursary is and the opportunities that open up by supplying these bursaries to carers in need there will always be more people in need and there will always be more carers who will be able to benefit from the bursary,” Lucas explains.

His thoughts on the current funding for young carers is that “it’s a good start”.

Here’s one of their events that connect young carers over Zoom.

(Credit: Young Carers Network)

Although the bursary is an amazing help, the Young Carers Network provides tips, stories, resources and support for Australian Young Carers throughout the year.

They also hold events through Young Carers Connect (YCC) which is a safe, supportive online space where carers aged 18-25 can hang out and share experiences. Sessions run fortnightly on Wednesdays via Zoom.

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