Young carers are children or young people, 25 years or under, who care or help care for someone in their family who has a disability, mental illness, drug or alcohol dependency, chronic condition, terminal illness or who is frail aged. In NSW there are more than 100,000 young Carers. They are a diverse but often hidden group, and may not be acknowledged for their caring role in the same way that other Carers are.
Many factors may impact on young Carers. Their caring role may be kept secret due to stigma, especially if the person being cared for has a drug or alcohol problem or a mental illness. Some young Carers may not reveal their role as they fear they may be separated from their family because they are considered at risk of harm or neglect.
Also, caring responsibilities for a grandparent, parent, sibling or other relative may not be recognised and valued by other adults such as health workers or teachers.
When caring is combined with school, study and/or work, and also social activities, problems may arise if suitable support is not provided. For example, it may limit a young Carer's ability to compete for jobs, gain qualifications or maintain friendships, even if their caring role ceases.
The importance of providing support to young Carers is now being recognised by funding bodies and services for Carers so that young Carers may now be eligible for financial and practical support.