Who are young carers?

‘Young carers’ are children and young people who help care for a parent, sibling, grandparent, other relative, or friend who has a disability, mental illness or chronic illness, or who is frail and aged.

The Carers Recognition Act 2023 (Tas) (PDF, 201KB) defines a young carer as a person who is under the age of 25 and provides unpaid care and support to a family member, or friend, who: 

  • has a disability
  • has a mental illness
  • has a chronic or life-limiting condition
  • has alcohol-dependence or drug-dependence; or 
  • is frail or aged
  • is a child, if the person is an informal kinship carer of the child. 

Every young carer’s situation is different. For example, a young person may become a carer to:

  • a parent who has a chronic illness such as a mental health problem or substance misuse issue
  • support their parents to care for a sibling who has a disability or illness.

Young carers often perform tasks not normally undertaken by children of their age. Caring responsibilities can sometimes impact on a young person’s ability to attend school and have a ‘normal childhood’ experience.

A young carer may undertake tasks that may be physical, emotional or a combination of both. This may include for example:

  • emotional support (such as listening to, talking with, reassuring and calming the person who they care for)
  • practical tasks (such as preparing food, cleaning the house, supermarket shopping, paying bills)
  • medical care (such as making appointments, buying medication and communication with health care professionals)
  • personal care (such as washing, dressing, toileting)
  • family support (such as looking after siblings, making school lunches, helping to get siblings ready for)
  • advocacy support (such as interpreting and translating, communication support with family members and health care professionals)

Support for young carers

If you are a young carer, it is really important that you talk to your teacher or school social worker so that they are aware and can help you. Staying at school is important and there are many ways your school can support you to stay at school whilst continuing your role as a carer.

Always remember:

  • you can talk to a trusted adult or friend about your caring role
  • help is available to you at school
  • there are many other students like you who have caring responsibilities
  • you don’t have to manage on your own
  • it’s important to care for yourself and ensure that you stay fit and healthy
  • there are support services available.

Support services for young carers

There are a number of community services which provide support and assistance for young carers. Click on the links below to explore which organisations can support you in your role as a young carer:

Education and training for young carers

A range of courses are available to assist young carers in their caring role. Some courses aim to provide them with skills required for the caring role itself, others provide information on specific conditions (such as dementia), and some focus on maintaining the health and wellbeing of the carer.

Contact your school for further information about suitable courses, workshops and support groups in your area.

Support for schools and teachers

A whole-of-school approach to managing the needs of young carers may impact positively on their ability to learn and their learning into the future. Senior leadership staff, teachers, support staff and administrative staff should be aware of the challenges which young carers face and the possible impact on their learning and associated outcomes. Some of the challenges faced by young people may include:

  • Getting to school
  • Arriving at school on time
  • Concentrating at school
  • Eating proper meals
  • Completing homework on time
  • Finding money to buy school uniforms, books, or equipment
  • Spending time with friends.

Many young carers say that they enjoy their caring role. However, we know that young carers who are not supported often face significant barriers to their own physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Resources and information

The following resources may assist you in identifying a young carer in your school community and supporting them to ensure they have the opportunity to continue to learn and reach their potential.

  • Supporting Young Carers in Secondary School – provides information on how to identify a young carer at your school. This resource also provides information regarding the impact and benefit that teachers and continued education have on young carers.

Tasmanian Carers Action Plan 2021-2024

In 2020, we signed up to the Supporting Tasmanian Carers: Tasmanian Carer Action Plan 2021-2024 (PDF, 5.6MB). This important initiative formally acknowledges the Tasmanian Government’s commitment to increase the recognition of carers and improve services and support for carers in Tasmania.

We recognise the responsibilities that young carers face, and we support young carers to balance their study and caring roles to ensure that they can remain engaged in education.