Young carers see their work as part of their normal roles as daughter, sons, partners and parents but need to better identify as carers in order to make full use of the services and supports available to them, a report says.
The findings are based on interviews and focus groups conducted with 28 participants by Carers NSW between December 2019 and June 2020, with the aim of gaining an insight into the experiences and needs of carers aged 16 to 25.
The The Young Carer research project report contains case studies and responses from participants, touching on a range of issues form balancing caring duties with social life, work and study, as well as experiences with and use of support services.
Care seen as intrinsic
There are approximately 83,700 young carers in NSW. One in ten of them are primary carers. However many do not identify as carers because they see it as an intrinsic part of their role as spouse, daughter/son, parent, relative or friend.
According to ABS statistics released on Tuesday, there are currently 235,300 young carers across Australia.
“I thought it was a small part of my day-to-day life. I didn’t realise that there was a term for what I was doing,” one participant, 19-year-old Jack said.
This summary report includes powerful stories of young people caring for loved ones while juggling study, work, family and social responsibilities.
The report says the findings highlight that caring is a normal part of young carer’s lives and is negotiated across social activities, study and work.
If found that i that young carers are often isolated and experience socio-economic disadvantage as a result of their caring responsibilities.
Reluctance to disclose caring responsibilities
But they are often reluctant to disclose their caring responsibilities to others and see their own needs and experiences as less important than those of the person they care for, making it difficult for support services to engage with them.
“I didn’t access (university support services) because I was just fearful of what that could mean for me. I was just worried would I be seen in a different light, how would that change the way I’m marked or assessed and stuff. And I just never accessed it,” Melina, 24, said.
Meanwhile, Daria, 18, said “…One of the major concerns that I have is once I can work, if I can, how am I going to explain to the employees that I have no really employee history and I’ve never really performed any formal work?
“I do have these five things that I do with volunteering and it’s prepared me with all these skillsets, but I have so much skills as a carer and I don’t believe that’s really recognised in the workforce…”
The report concludes that participants were resourceful in navigating their caring role with an often high self-efficacy, applying valuable life skills gained through caring, and accessing support or services.
But it says their diversity of their experiences also highlights to need for them to identify as carers in order to access support.
The learnings will be used in a yet to be published Young Carer Engagement Tool.
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