For some young carers, school, TAFE, uni or the workplace may provide a bit of a break from life at home. However it can also be extremely challenging to juggle studying, caring, working and everything else. Here are some tips and advice around balancing study or work with caring.
Studying & Caring
Should I tell someone about my caring role?
Yes. If you are struggling to keep up with the workload or if you’re falling behind, you should talk to your teacher or lecturer. Telling someone that you are a young carer can be intimidating, but remember that they will want what’s best for you. If they know about your caring role, they may be able to provide you with some extra help while you study.
What will I say?
Ask to speak with your teacher, lecturer or the school counsellor in a private area and tell them as much as you feel comfortable sharing. Explain why you can’t keep up with assignments or why you might be falling behind – that way they can find out how to give you some extra support on your own terms. You may want to tell that person about this website or give them our number (1800 242 636) so that they can find out more about how to help you. If you are studying at university or TAFE, you can also speak to someone at the student support office.
I would like my teacher or lecturer to know about my caring role but I don’t want to tell them myself.
Sometimes it can be difficult to explain your situation to someone without feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable. This is completely understandable. Some young carers feel more comfortable asking their parent or guardian to talk to the school. You can also call the young carer team on 1800 242 636 to chat about how we can help.
I don’t want to tell anyone about my personal circumstances but I still want everyone to know about young carers.
If you don’t want to disclose that you are a young carer but you would like staff members and students to better understand young carers, why not order some young carer resources? We have resources that have been specifically designed for teachers. We are happy to post some to you, or we can post them directly to your school, TAFE or uni. This way people are made aware of young carers but it means that you do not need to tell them about your personal situation.
Working & Caring
With over 2 million carers of working age in Australia, you may be surprised to find out that many of your past or current workmates may also be in a caring role. Juggling a caring role with work can be tough, and talking to your employer about your situation can be a daunting prospect. However a supportive employer and a little bit of flexibility in your workplace could make a big difference to your life. If you decide to talk to your employer about your caring role, keep in mind that you are not obliged to go into detail about your loved one and your relationship.
Before you do talk to them, it is a good idea to be aware of your rights as a carer at work, which are protected by anti-discrimination laws as well as Australia’s National Employment Standards (NES). Under these laws your employer cannot discriminate against you because of your caring responsibilities – you should have the same treatment and opportunities as all other employees.
You also have the right to request special arrangements to help you do your job at the same time as being a young carer. The NES set out what all employees are entitled to as a minimum in the workplace, and it covers carer’s leave and flexible working arrangements, you can find out more here. You can also check out the at home section for more information about respite and financial assistance that may be available to you.
Support while you study or work
If you do need to catch up or get ahead of the game at school or uni, there are a number of things you can do to help you learn. Check out the links below for info about after school clubs, online learning resources, tutoring programs and tertiary education support. If you are a working carer, check out the links below for some useful information and resources.