Young carers living in Brisbane, Townsville and Bundaberg will receive extra support to overcome barriers to education, with the rollout of a new pilot program in Queensland by Australia’s leading young carer support organisation, Little Dreamers.
Backed by a $380,000 Significant Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, the Young Carer Project pilot will allow Little Dreamers to start working with school communities in these regions, following the success of the initiative in Victoria. The project builds kind, safe and supportive environments for young carers, to give them every chance of completing their education.
Across Australia, it’s estimated that there are 2-3 young carers in every classroom who provide unpaid care or assistance to a family member suffering from a chronic illness, mental illness, disability or addiction. The number of young carers under the age of 25 in Queensland is close to 30,000.
Little Dreamers Founder and CEO Madeleine Buchner OAM said the program would also help to identify those students in Queensland who don’t realise they are a young carer and might otherwise fall through the cracks.
“For example, sometimes students that have a sibling with autism or a parent with a physical disability or a mental illness, may not realise that they are a young carer, but have a lot more responsibility than others their age,” Ms Buchner said.
“Young carers have the highest rates of school attrition, and their caring role can also impact substantially on their social life, later-life employment and overall health. Through the Queensland pilot of the Young Carer Project, the broader school community will have more inclusive schools, where every student will be more visible, regardless of their personal circumstances.
“Our vision is that all young carers are enabled and encouraged to attend and enjoy school and have equal access to their education, like their peers.”
Each school in the pilot program can nominate a Young Carer Champion, who is supported by trained ambassadors to work with other educators in their school to complete the program’s modules and workshops and embed the necessary changes. Brisbane, Bundaberg and Townsville were identified as young carer hotspots where numbers of young carers are high and are therefore the focus of this pilot.
Hand Heart Pocket Acting CEO Robert Qualtrough said the grant-making Foundation was proud to formally acknowledge the partnership recently, having awarded the grant back in March on behalf of the Freemasons of Queensland.
“This was one of the first grants we awarded under our refined philanthropic focus which is all about supporting programs and initiatives that help to improve outcomes for youth at risk,” Mr Qualtrough said.
“By partnering with charitable organisations like Little Dreamers and other philanthropists who are passionate about this same group of people, we believe we can help to create greater philanthropic impact.
“Today, young carers are said to be one of the four most marginalised youth groups, but with extra support to complete their education and help to build support networks, they can have hope for their futures,” he said.
Photo: Little Dreamers Queensland State Manager Alex Tyson, Little Dreamers CEO Madeleine Buchner OAM, Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland Acting CEO Robert Qualtrough and Little Dreamers Education Program Manager for Queensland Jennifer Rose.