Who are young carers?

The Carer Recognition Act 2023 (Tas) (PDF, 201KB) defines a young carer as a person who is under the age of 25 and provides unpaid care and support to a family member, or friend, who: 

  • has a disability
  • has a mental illness
  • has a chronic or life-limiting condition
  • has alcohol-dependence or drug-dependence; or 
  • is frail or aged
  • is a child, if the person is an informal kinship carer of the child. 

Every young carer’s situation is different. For example, a child or young person may become a carer to:

  • a parent who has a chronic illness such as mental ill health or alcohol or other drug dependence.
  • support their parents to care for a sibling who has a disability or illness.

Young carers often perform tasks not normally undertaken by people their age. Caring responsibilities can sometimes impact on a child or young person’s ability to attend school and have a ‘normal childhood’ experience.

A young carer may undertake tasks that may be physical, emotional or a combination of both. This may include for example:

  • emotional support (such as listening to, talking with, reassuring and calming the person who they care for)
  • practical tasks (such as preparing food, cleaning the house, supermarket shopping, paying bills)
  • medical care (such as making appointments, buying medication and communication with health care professionals)
  • personal care (such as washing, dressing, toileting)
  • family support (such as looking after siblings, making school lunches, helping to get siblings ready for)
  • advocacy support (such as interpreting and translating, communication support with family members and health care professionals)

Support for young carers

If you are a young 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 continue at school while being a carer.

Always remember:

  • 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.

Support services for young carers

There are a number of government and community services which provide support and assistance for young carers. This can include financial support in the form of carers payments or allowances. Click on the links below to explore which organisations can support you in your role as a young carer:

Care2Serve·       Information and counselling
·       Help at home and tutoring support
·       Respite
·       Connection with other carers
·       Workshops and events
Young Carer Network·       Annual Young Carer Bursary
·       Links to a range of support organisations
Carers Tasmania·       Peak body for carers in Tasmania
·       Advocacy and referrals
Services Australia·       Centrelink carer allowance and carer payments
·       Payments for students and trainees
·       Information and referrals
·      Counselling
Headspace·       Mental health support and counselling for 12-25 year olds
·       Education and career counselling
Kids Helpline·       24/7 Online and phone counselling service for young people for 5-25 year olds
Lifeline·       24/7 Online, phone and text crisis support service
ReachOut·       Online mental health support and connection
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) ·       Funding for services and supports for people living with a disability

Education and training for young carers

A range of courses are available to assist young carers in their caring role. Some courses aim to provide the 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.

Contact your school’s wellbeing staff or Care2Serve to find out about suitable courses, workshops and support groups in your area.

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 whether you or someone you know is undertaking the role of a carer:

Tasmanian Carers Action Plan 2021-2024

In 2020, DECYP signed up to the Supporting Tasmanian Carers: Tasmanian Carer Action Plan 2021-2024 (PDF, 5.6MB). 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.

We recognise the responsibilities that young carers face, and we support young carers to balance their study and caring roles to ensure that they can remain engaged in education.