Being a caregiver is not an easy role for anyone to take on, but the realities of caregiving can be especially tough on young people.
It is estimated that around 235,000 Australians aged 12-25 hold some form of a caring role for a loved one – tasked with roles beyond their years and, often, deferring education or employment to do so.
The Young Carer Bursary Program offers $3000 grants to young people to ease financial burden and assist with further education.
A 2022 recipient of the grant, Lucas Westbury, spoke in an interview about his life as a young caregiver and how he’s been helped by the grant.
Becoming a Carer
Lucas, 18, had just started high school when his mother escaped from a physically abusive relationship. After she developed depression, PTSD and frequent chronic migraines, Lucas found himself as the primary caregiver for her and his older brother Jacob, who has autism.
On the days where Lucas is the primary caregiver, he gets up early, feeds the pets and helps Jacob with his morning routine. Although Jacob is mostly independent, Lucas needs to remind him to do certain tasks.
“I have to get Jacob out of bed and get him ready for work,” Lucas said. “It’s the little things that come by basic instinct to us… like taking medication or having a shower, I need to remind him,” Lucas said.
Helped by the Young Carer Bursary
Due to his additional responsibilities, Lucas needed flexible study options to continue his education, which he was able to achieve through the Young Carer Bursary Program. Funded by the Federal Government, the Young Carer Bursary offers 1000 grants each year, valued at $3000, to carers aged between 12 and 25 years.
Lucas received a grant this year, which enabled him to complete a Certificate III in IT.
“It’s let me continue to study full-time at home while also caring for my family,” he said.
“[The grant has] let me continue to study full-time at home while also caring for my family.”
Lucas is currently looking for further study options, in order to secure his first full-time job to support his family.
A Rewarding Role
Despite the additional mental load, Lucas said he is used to it – and actually finds caregiving rewarding.
“The most rewarding part is the person that it’s made me into,” he said. “Being a carer has taught me to be patient with everyone.”
Applications for The Young Carer Bursary Program are now open at the Young Carers Network website.
Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media. Georgia Free is a broadcaster and writer from Sydney, Australia.