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My Family Doesn’t Speak English

Young carers from families that speak a language other than English can have a few additional challenges to deal with.  If you are looking for some guidance, we have put together this page which may help you out!  The below information has been written with the help of other young carers and Carers NSW staff who come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Questions

  1. What is it like to be a young carer in a family that speaks a language other than English at home?
  2. What can you do if you find translating difficult?
  3. What if my family doesn’t want help from outside the family?
  4. How can the Carers NSW Young Carer Program help me?
  5. What websites could help me?

1. What is it like to be a young carer in a family that speaks a language other than English at home?

What did the doctor/ bank manager/ solicitor/ psychiatrist/ next-door neighbour/ news/ radio program say? It can seem endless…

For those young carers whose parents do not speak much English, you might feel like you are playing the role of the good son/daughter, the interpreter/translator, the thinker/speaker, and worst of all, the doctor/ lawyer/ banker. You may even play some of these roles at the same time!

The parent-child relationship at home can often be blurry. For young carers in this role, it can feel almost like you are parenting your parent. You might feel like you are forced to become super grown-ups too early. You have to absorb, process, explain and act upon all sorts of information that even some adults do not understand.

2. What can you do if you find translating difficult?

Not being able to understand or having trouble explaining and translating something is perfectly normal. You don’t need to feel ashamed or guilty. Some concepts are very hard to translate or explain in another language. Most medical, legal and financial concepts need years of study to understand well.

It’s really important to ask for help!

Medical people, community organisations and some private organisations have access to interpreters who can help with translations to other languages. Ask your local doctor, nurses or social workers if they can organise an interpreter for you. Often it is still helpful to be around when an interpreter meets with your family member so that you can help them to understand. It is really a matter of asking. Be insistent and assertive, don’t be discouraged!

3. What if my family doesn’t want help from outside the family?

You might be worried that your parents may not want someone outside of the family to help. Be honest, tell them that you find it hard to both translate and get the information that you need. Explain to them that if someone helps to translate the content, you will be able to get correct information for them.

4. How can the Carers NSW Young Carer Program help me?

Young carers across all cultures have many things in common. The Young Carer Program at Carers NSW has many different resources that you could find useful. You could also get the chance to meet lots of other young carers so that you don’t feel so alone. Reach out!

5. What websites could help me?

NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service provides information about health issues in different languages. It covers a wide range of diseases, illness and health conditions as well as information about the health systems and how to use the system. It provides a good starting point.

Mental Health in Multicultural Australia website provides a range of multilingual information on mental health related topics. The materials come from across Australia, and sometimes internationally.

Centrelink has information in different languages on their website. They also have a Multilingual Phone Service, if you or your parents have any questions. Call 131 202 and have a chat with a skilled staff member who speaks the same language.

The NSW Department of Family and Community Services has information in different languages for older people, young people with disabilities and carers. Scroll down and click on the language your parents speak!


 

For anyone who is looking for translated information about the Young Carer Program, we have had our Easy Read factsheet translated into 12 community languages.  Click the links below to download the relevant documents:


 

“I still remember taking my mum to the different specialists when I was at uni. My mother thought I would know everything about health and mental health because I was at uni. I was expected to translate and explain all the information relating to diabetes, depression, anxiety, and more. I was also expected to be a financial planner and a legal adviser because I read English. I also recall that every time I translated something, my mum would turn around and ask me what to do. So I became the person responsible even though she was the one making the final decision! (And I was barely of a legal age to make any decisions…)”

– Carers NSW Young Carer Leader