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For Professionals

If you work in a school as a teacher or counsellor, or if you work in the community or health sectors, you are likely to come across young carers all the time. Knowing how to identify and support them in an appropriate and sensitive way can make a big difference to the young person and their family.

How can I identify a young carer?

Identifying a young carer is the first step to linking them in with support. Some common signs that young person is in a caring role may be that the young person:

  • Is often tired and finds it hard to concentrate
  • Has a lot of knowledge about illness or disability
  • Is often late or misses days or weeks off school (without any reason given)
  • Wants to keep their mobile on during school & contacts home a lot
  • May be bullied or teased (especially about their family)
  • Has back or neck pain (due to lifting)
  • Is worried about an ill or disabled relative
  • Tends to rush home after school
  • Has symptoms of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem
  • Has parents/guardians who do not attend parent-teacher interviews
  • Appears isolated at school
  • Has false maturity – acts older than their age
  • Tends to care for peers
  • Doesn’t want to talk about their family

How can I help a young carer?

Once you have identified a young carer, it is essential to link them in with support. Here are some general tips, but every caring situation is different. You can also call us on 1800 242 636 to discuss a particular case in more detail.

  • Acknowledge the caring role of the young person
  • Do not bring extra attention to the young person in front of their peers
  • Believe what the young person shares with you
  • Listen emphatically and let them know that their caring role is valued
  • Provide information and answer any questions that the young person has about their family member’s condition (in easy to understand language)
  • Provide them with contact details for their nearest Young Carer Program so they can find out more information about practical and general support services that are available to them.
  • With consent, carry out a guided referral to the Young Carer Program
  • Organise for the young carer to talk to someone about how they feel (a young carer worker, school counsellor, youth worker, Kids Helpline -1800 551 800)
  • Speak to the young person’s parents and develop a support plan

“I regularly had trouble handing in my assignments on time as there were so many interruptions. This also was very frustrating, even though mum couldn’t help being unwell.”

– Young carer, age 18, cares for a parent who has a chronic illness

“Sometimes it stops me from being able to complete my homework and obtain adequte sleep which is important in Year 12 because the last thing I want is to fall behind”

– Young carer, age 17, cares for a sibling who has autism

“This year I have managed to find a really good teacher who has helped me out a lot with my school work and just my feelings in general and this has meant the world to me.”

– Young carer, age 17, cares for a sibling who has a disability