Written by Professor Kate Hutchings

Researchers from Griffith University have partnered with Arafmi Ltd and Little Dreamers to investigate the extent of caring roles of, and support for, young carers in Australia and psycho-social disability and risk-taking behaviours of young carers in Australia.

Led by WOW member Professor Kate Hutchings and Dr Katrina Radford (Business Strategy and Innovation), this project also includes team members Associate Professor Neil Harris, Dr Sara McMillan, Dr Maddy Slattery, Dr Nancy Spencer and Professor Amanda Wheeler. The team are excited to conduct a mixed methods study of young carers in Australia.

Photo credit: Young Carers NSW

Recent statistics in Australia reveal that there are approximately 350,000 young carers in Australia and half of these are under the age of eighteen (McDougall, O’Connor & Howell, 2018). A young carer is defined as a person under the age of 25 who provides, or intends to provide care, assistance or support to a family member with an illness, disability, or addiction. These young carers provide support in the absence of other available networks and lack of suitable formal care arrangements, and provide care on a continuum ranging from caring about the person to caring for the person including helping with cleaning and tidying through to carrying out basic domestic chores, undertaking intimate, specialised and medical care (Joseph et al., 2019).

It is concerning that recent research found that young carers are less likely to complete or do well in secondary school compared with young people who do not have caring responsibilities (Hamilton & Redmond, 2020). While the school engagement of young carers of people with a disability is not significantly different from that of non-carers, the school engagement among young carers of people with a psycho-social disability or addiction to alcohol/drugs is significantly lower; and young carers who themselves have disability report particularly low levels of engagement (Hamilton & Redmond, 2020). Constraints on education can lead to reduced employment outcomes, resulting in young carers experiencing higher rates of unemployment that affects income as well as their overall health and happiness (Morsy, 2012). Consequently, more research identifying the reality of barriers and enablers of educational and work participation rates among young carers in Australia is of utmost importance. The project seeks to shape policy discussion in the future.

“We are excited to be embarking on this project that has the potential to shape the future of young carers in Australia” – Professor Kate Hutchings and Dr Katrina Radford

“Arafmi Ltd have been providing supports and care for unpaid mental health carers in Queensland for over 44 years. We work closely with our carers to reinforce our motto that they are not alone. We are very proud to be working with Griffith University and Little Dreamers to help understand young carers and provide change and support to improve their lives”. 

“Little Dreamers is Australia’s leading Young Carer organisation and for over 10 years we have been working to improve the quality of life for Young Carers right across the country. Our ultimate vision is that every single Young Carer around the world is supported by someone or something by 2030.  The research Griffith University is leading will identify Young Carer needs and contribute to Young Carers in Australia being supported in the future. Little Dreamers is proud to work closely with Griffith University and Arafmi to change the lives of Young Carers now and into the future”.

*RESEARCH PARTICIPANT RECRUITMENT*

We are seeking stakeholders of young carers (i.e. people in organisations who provide support for or interact with young carers) – to participate in a short 30 minute interview to discuss the barriers and enablers young carers face.

Participants will be entered into a prize draw to win a $25 Coles store voucher.

If you are interested in participating and want to hear more, please contact Professor Kate Hutchings by Friday 11th December to arrange a time – [email protected]