An “invisible” generation of Queensland kids as young as six are sacrificing their childhood and education to act as carers for disabled or ageing family members, experts have warned.
New ABS data reveals that an astonishing 30,000 young Queenslanders aged 15-24 provide unpaid care for family and friends.
But Carers Queensland’s Jim Toohey warned the figure could be much higher, with many young people hesitant to come forward or ask for help.
Mr Toohey said it was not uncommon to meet primary school children in Queensland who acted as carers for their parents and siblings.
“There are these young people out there providing all of this unpaid care for a mother, a father, a sibling and they’re not really on the radar,” Mr Toohey said.
Carer numbers have been steadily increasing across the country and one in 20 young Australians aged 15-24 now provide unpaid care.
The ABS reported young carers were less likely to finish Year 12 and have quality education outcomes, saying “while caring can be rewarding, the time and effort taken to provide assistance to a loved one can affect a carer’s ability to participate in education and work, maintain friendships and social life, and may have a negative effect on wellbeing and mental health”.
“What they’re sacrificing is their future.”
Queensland teen Corby Small has been caring for her wheelchair-bound mum Sandi for as long as she can remember.
“She was in a car accident when she was 18 and is paralysed from the waist down,” Ms Small said.
“She had me when she was in a wheelchair, so I’ve cared for mum my whole life.”
Ms Small is now studying a bachelor of science.
“It can be very isolating and you’re not really sure how to talk about it and no one really understands what you’re going through or how different your life is,” she said.
“It takes a lot of your time and it’s really hard with school and growing up.
“But I think the relationship between my mum and I is a lot stronger because of the situation and we’re definitely a lot closer than what a lot of people my age would be.”
Information published on the Courier Mail.