Little Dreamers, Australia’s leading organisation for young carers, has launched a campaign around this month’s Census to get a more accurate understanding of the true number of young carers in Australia.
The 2011 Census identified about 115,000 young carers, those 26 years and under who look after a family member at home. However, Carers Victoria identified approximately 420,000 in this category which equates to 1 in 10 young people.
Founder and CEO of Little Dreamers Madeleine Buchner said the campaign – titled Tick the Box – is important because the Federal Government needs to understand the actual number of people who are young carers because it is an area that requires a lot more funding.
“Unfortunately, there are a number of limitations that must be considered when filling out the Census. For example, young carers are invited to answer Questions 20 – 23 but anyone under the age of 15 is excluded from answering Question 49 – which asks ‘In the last two weeks did the person spend time providing unpaid care, help or assistance to family members or others because of a disability, a long term health condition or problems related to old age?’.
“We work with young carers on a daily basis and we know that the majority fall within the 10 to 14 year-old age group. They shouldn’t be ignored but the Census is not structured to capture the correct data. What this means – as in what happened in 2011 – is that the number of young carers is grossly under-estimated.”
The Tick the Box campaign wants parents and young carers to understand that they are entitled to funding for the work that they do and ensure that they tick the correct box on the form.
“The Census is a research tool designed to provide a comprehensive guide to the Australian population. However, the current Census is failing to accurately capture the number of young carers who are under 15 years of age. By filling out the Census correctly the Australian Government will get a better understanding of how big the issue is and then – which is our hope – allocate sufficient funds to the several hundred thousand young carers,” said Ms Buchner.
“This is important as a many young carers suffer from poor mental health as a direct result of their caring role. The school dropout rates are also alarmingly high with 96% of primary carers between the ages of 15 – 25 reported to drop out of education.”
Little Dreamers will bring the initiative to life with a four week social media campaign to showcase the stories of young carers in an effort to highlight what it’s really like to be a young carer and encourage others to ‘Tick the Box’ with more information available at www.littledreamersonline.com/tickthebox.
Little Dreamers is the brainchild of Madeleine Buchner and Rebecca Abelman and was first established in 2002 before relaunching six years ago. Today, Little Dreamers work to improve the lives of the 420,000 young carers in Australia and believes in a world where all young carers have someone to care for them. The not-for-profit organisation offers a wide range of services including an online support group, a ‘wish granting’ program, a school holiday program, a school program where volunteers talk to teachers and students about life as a young carer and an annual Young Carers Festival, now in its third year. Previous support has been provided by David Campbell and Molly Meldrum along with a small team of dedicated staff.