Young carers is a term used to identify young people who look after a family member with a disability, mental illness, chronic illness, or drug/alcohol problem. Due to their situation, young carers have extra responsibilities which will necessarily impact on their home, school and social life.
In Western Australia, there is estimated to be over 40,000 young carers under the age of 26 in both metropolitan and regional or remote areas. This means that there is likely to be at least two young carers in every classroom.
They may become a young carer through someone in their family sustaining disabilities from an accident, being born with a disability, or developing a chronic illness. Alternatively, they could grow up having someone in their family with a mental illness, or drug or alcohol problem. Each caring situation is different and every young carer helps their family in different ways.
The role of caring for another person in day to day life can have both positive and negative impacts on a young person. Research has shown there to be immediate and long term effects associated with caring with young carers being more likely to suffer from the negative effects of caring if they do not have the right support.
National and international research shows that young carers rarely self-identify for a variety of reasons. They also do not respond to the term 'young carer' until after the term has been explained to them, meaning that identification can be difficult for us at school.
When recognised and supported in their role as a young carer, young people have stated that it has had a strong, positive impact on their lives. Young carers often gain useful skills, knowledge and experiences which can help them in later life.
Busselton Senior High School is partnering with Young Carers WA to provide students who are carers with extra support.
This may be in the form of counselling, vouchers for activities, camps or other support as per the need of each child. The service is completely free and confidential. Parents or students who wish to engage with young carers may get information and a referral pack from the deputies in student services or the school nurse. The school does not need to know the reasons why someone is a young carer. We will simply provide the information for you to pursue. As such the identity of those acting in the roles of young carers will be confidential.