A Young Carer’s Experience of COVID-19

Kelsie shares her experience of COVID-19 as a young carer during her HSC year.

How did you feel when you COVID-19 first broke out?

My initial reaction to COVID-19 was that it would all fade soon.  In a regional community, I felt disconnected to the rest of the state and that it wouldn’t hit us.  We were all expecting it to blow over soon and that it wouldn’t impact our way of life out here.  I was carrying on with sport, school and work.  Once the cases rose and restrictions were imposed, I quickly realised the severity of the virus.  I felt frustrated not playing sport because it’s a very important part of my lifestyle.  I was worried about my education as I transitioned to at-home learning during my HSC.  I was concerned with how I could afford to pay for essentials with no work and I was looking for a new job to provide some financial income during the quarantine period.

Did you experience any challenges as a young carer during COVID-19?  If so, have those challenges changed since things have opened up again and restrictions have lifted?

My main challenges were working at home, increasing jobs around the house and no money coming in for a certain amount of time.  My house is very busy and loud so it is difficult to concentrate and focus on schoolwork, let alone having to do it all day here.  This was a big challenge for me and I went to school for as often as I could before I had to stay home every day.  Thankfully now I get to go to school again and study in a relatively quiet environment.  Another challenge was being asked to do more jobs because I was home more often.  This hasn’t eased because I always have to do a lot around the house.  Finally, being at work and receiving JobKeeper has greatly helped my financial stresses.  It is a big relief to have that support and opportunity to work so that I can pay for the essentials.

What was your experience like learning from home and being a young carer?

It was very difficult because my house is not quiet.  I am always being disrupted so that I can go help with something or do something around the house.  Thankfully, my family tried to be as accommodating and supportive during this time due to the importance of my HSC studies.  I preferred being at school due to access to educational resources, reliable internet and a relatively quiet environment to study in.

How was the transition going back to school?

As a year 12 student, the transition was very busy and sudden.  There was no “ease in” or slow period returning to school.  I was thankfully back in action full swing early into the term.  This helped us get our education back on track and focus on our schoolwork.

What is something that has helped you manage/navigate returning to school as a young carer?

The return to school is not much different to how it was before we left.  My main strategy to focussing on my studies has been finding motivation, thinking about the importance of school and utilising my school’s resources as much as possible.  I have tried to stress the importance of studying more to my mum so that she can understand and I can have fewer disruptions studying as the term gets busier.

If you would like support as a young carer during this time, reach out the Young Carer team on (02) 9280 4744 or email yc@carersnsw.org.au.  Remember that you can call Lifeline 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 at any time of day if you need someone to chat to!