“Targeted policies and programs are needed to provide formal support to young carers who are the most affected so they can fully participate in school,” states Anne Hollonds, the Australian Institute of Family Studies Director, in response to recent research showing that being a young carer can cause a negative impact on education. Specifically, the research showed that young carers aged 14-15 are performing less well than their peers in NAPLAN testing.
Of course, this is not news to anyone who is close to a young carer or to young carers themselves. The loss of income can occur when a parent is unable to work because they're needed to care full time for a child or partner with an illness or disability or develops a health issue themselves. Expensive bills for specialist equipment, appointments and support can mean that there isn’t enough money for school excursions, fees, uniforms and resources. Stress and tiredness can also take their toll resulting in the young carer having less inner resources – emotional and physical energy – to put towards their education.
There are some positives about going to school for young carers. School can mean time with friends, respite and an opportunity to learn skills and engage in activities that they enjoy.
However, any educational impacts can also translate into a harder path towards employment.
Ms Hollands recommends that focussed, targeted programs and policies be implemented to support young carers because educational impacts could have lifetime effects.
The Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centre has offices across Australia with programs to help young carers in secondary school who are at educational risk. Call 1800 052 222 to find help near you.
The Smith Family Foundation also has a range of educational assistance programs for disadvantaged youth.
Last but certainly not least, Carers Australia are offering bursaries of $3000 to 333 Australian young carers aged 12 to 25 to help with their studies in 2018. Applications close on the 7th of September 2017 and more information can be found here. http://youngcarers.net.au/young-carer-bursary-program/
For more information on educational support, call the Young Carers WA Team or the Advisory team on 1300 227 377.