I was asked by a young carer worker in my area if I would like to speak at the high schools in my area about young carers and my experience as one. Below is what I am going to be saying at the assemblies. I hope it inspires you to approach your local centre and get involved with some of their projects to help other young carers who may not yet realise that they are one. Hello, My name is Angelina and I have been a young carer since I was ten years old. My mum has a degenerative disease of the spine, which she has had for about ten years now. I live with my mum, my dad, and my older brother. My grandmother also lived with us for many years. We live out of town on a property which makes it really difficult for me to get into town, to mix with other people, to socialise and to make it to my commitments in town. I attended Bletchington primary school when I was younger and started high school at The Canobolas rural technology high school. I attended TCRTH until mid 2005 when a variety of problems, including mum’s illness caused me to change to distance education. Once I was home full time doing my schooling at home, my caring responsibilities increased and I found a lot more of my time was being spent helping mum to run the family home, as well as caring for mum. Some of the things that I do for my mum include:- – The grocery shopping – Meal preparation – Doing day to day household chores – As well as being, an emotional support for my mum Mum’s illness causes her to feel helpless and frustrated a lot of the time.
My dad is often away at work and my brother is busy pursuing his educational goals. So the bulk of the responsibility falls upon me when mum is unwell. I often found myself feeling more and more stressed, anxious and frustrated about what was happening at home. I had less and less time for myself and felt very tired and drained both physically and emotionally. 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. I found myself needing support, but there was no one that I could talk to at that time. I felt that no one would understand what I was going through, and I was too ashamed to talk to my own family about what was going on for me because I felt that they didn’t need to be burdened with my worries and frustrations. This continued on for many years. When I was sixteen I was flicking through a Dolly magazine when I came across an advertisement for Young carers (at that stage I didn’t even realise that I was one). It wasn’t until I read the questions that were printed in the ad that I realised that I fell into the category of being a young carer. At first I was reluctant to ring the number printed in the ad because I didn’t want my family to find out that I was enquiring and I was scared of the unknown. One day a lady from the aged care assessment team came to visit my Grandmother.
My mum and I were informed about young carers. This gave me the permission that I had needed to step over the boundary line and call the number that I had been storing from the ad in the magazine. I called the number from the ad and I spoke to a really nice lady called Margaret who talked to me for a while and then referred me to the local Commonwealth carer respite centre office where I was able to get help locally. I rang the local office and I was told that help was available. The help that I have received includes: – – A lady came out to my house to help clean the house – I became a member of Young carers NSW on the internet where I could talk with other young carers on the message board as well as being able to check out what upcoming young carer camps or activities were happening in my area. – A tutor was provided to help me with my school work – I was also able to access some subsidised counselling sessions to help me work through some of my problems The help made a lot of difference to me because the house was now clean and I didn’t have to do the extra work around the house. The website assistance helped me because I was able to talk to other young people who were going through similar things as me. The tutoring helped me pass some of my subjects that I was having difficulties with. The counselling greatly helped me to realise that I am allowed to feel frustrated at times, even though mum can’t help being sick. I have just turned eighteen and finished my HSC. I am now enrolled in university to study a Bachelor of social science (Psychology) and I hope to one day become a Psychologist so that I can help other people that are in need. The reason that I am here before you today is to let other young carers know that if you are caring for someone in your family or even a close friend with an illness or disability don’t be afraid to reach out and get help because you are not alone and help IS available for you. Thankyou! I hope that my speech has inspired you to help out other young carers. – Young Carer, 18 years old