Camp offers learning and fun
Echo Creek Adventure Centre was the perfect location for eight young carers to have fun, enjoy and appreciate nature.
The centre, an established adventure based learning facility approximately 2.5 hours south of Cairns, is based in a rural setting in the beautiful Tully Valley on the edge of the Wet Tropics.
The two-night three-day experience was sponsored by VivCourt Energy and offered to young women aged between 13 and 17 years who hold caring responsibilities within their families.
Out of the eight participants, six were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, including three who travelled from Thursday Island. Four of them came from the Cairns area and one joined in from Townsville.
Half of them are involved in caring for their younger siblings and the other half in caring for a parent or older family member living with a disability.
While many young carers speak with pride of their role and the benefits it brings to them, taking on these responsibilities can often be challenging and isolating for young people.
They face a higher risk of disengagement from school, isolation from peers, negative effects on their own health and financial hardship.
In recognition of the extent of their caring role and the complexity of their family situation, five of the young women receive assistance from Carers Queensland’s Young Carer program, which helps them remain engaged with schooling.
Carers Queensland assists young carers achieve their full potential through support services, information sharing, networking and participative experiences.
Camp is one of those. Carers Queensland Far North Regional Office Team Leader, Lynda Coon said this is a fantastic opportunity for young carers to develop new skills, friendships and interests.
“It’s a safe environment that builds self-confidence, esteem and social skills, and encourages friendships, while increasing their willingness to experiment and try new things,” she said.
“It’s also an opportunity to recognise and acknowledge the important role young carers play in our community,” she added.
“Young carers can connect with other young people in similar situations, promote self-care and have a break from their caring role.”
Over the camp, the girls participated in a range of activities aimed at encouraging connections amongst them, strengthening their problem solving skills and self-confidence, and mostly, having fun.
Activities included craft, team building, raft building, racing, abseiling and rock climbing.
Each participant also took home a gift bag, which included a range of items to promote self-care such as cosmetics, donated by Lush Handmade Cosmetics; a copy of Teen Breathe Mini mag, donated by Teen Breathe Australia; a portable power pack and waterproof mobile phone carrier donated by Cairns Regional Council.
In Queensland, there are currently more than 50,000 young carers, aged between 12 and 25 years, who provide care to a family member with a disability, illness, or age related condition.
As young carers, they take on additional responsibilities within their family unit, which can include assisting with housework, cooking, and emotional and physical care of their sibling or other family members.