The Vision

UnitingCare Wesley Bowden (UCWB) will use the findings of this project to influence youth organisations, schools, community organisations and the new Regional Delivery Partners to recognise the needs of young carers and understand the response strategies likely to be the most effective. The findings will be shared with wider carer networks and UCWB will advocate to federal and state government for change.

Currently, there is no National Strategy for Carers, or young carers. There is very little specific funding nationally focused on the needs of young carers, and the eminent carer reform will result in a loss of focus and specific funding to this highly vulnerable group. UCWB aims to be a voice for young carers and to advocate for their rights under the Carers Recognition Act 2005 (SA) to enjoy life and reach their potential.

The Approach

In 2018 as part of the Discovery Grant Rounds the Fay Fuller Foundation granted UnitingCare Wesley Bowden’s proposal to perform a research project into the roles and experiences of Young Carers. The proposed research was timely, as from April 2020, under the Government’s new carer support model, Carers SA was slated to become the main provider of services for South Australia’s 250,000 unpaid carers of which approximately 12-14% are Young Carers.

Led by Sam Lai this project invited Young Carers to lead the conversation and incorporated elements of co-design, lived experience, and narrative perspectives.

The project hosted a series of workshops, bringing together Young Carers who perform a caring role for an individual or multiple people experiencing a mental health issue, disability, chronic illness or addiction.

The project aimed to gather qualitative data around 3 questions:

  1. What are the experiences and needs of young carers in South Australia? (During a time of transition)
  2. How can friends and families, schools and service providers identify, support and refer young carers?
  3. How can this collective of individuals better identify hidden young people in caring roles?

The Outcomes

At this stage the following key discoveries have been made:

  • Young carers caring for individuals with mental ill-health are not recognised as carers.
  • An early monitoring process is more relevant in caring circumstances, compared to early intervention.
  • It matters how young carers are identified.
  • Young carers want service providers to listen to them and work with them to create services that allow for better outcomes.
  • Systems should not be preoccupied with creating a young carer specific workforce. Instead, existing professionals should be encouraged to be more vigilant and dedicated to the young carers cause.
We’ll bring you more on the Young Carers Research project later in 2021