Little Dreamers has released its platform for the upcoming NSW state election, forming the basis of our focus leading up to the new NSW Government in March 2019.
Young Carers continue to be over-represented when it comes to youth mental illness, education and financial disadvantage. The situation has become unacceptable and despite programs and services to support Young Carers, the lack of improvement proves that the current systems are not working for our kids.
“Young Carers need to be, and deserve to be, at the top of the NSW Government priority list for the next election,” said Madeleine Buchner, Little Dreamers CEO.
“We need to provide early intervention and preventative support for these Young Carers rather than reactive programs to make a deep and meaningful impact in the lives of these young people.”
These are the changes we are asking for:
Invest in Young Carer-led supports for Young Carers across NSW
The current Young Carer support system has been shaped by adult carers (and non-caring peers), with little to no involvement from actual Young Carers. Young Carers deserve equal, if not more, credit when it comes to developing programs, as adult carers do.
As many of the long lasting impacts of being an adult carer begin in the “Young Carer stage” we need to refocus our current approaches for Young Carers, giving greater support to Young Carer controlled approaches and frameworks.
This means that we need to begin to rely less on approaches developed for Young Carers and begin to further support those that are developed by Young Carers.
Build strong school communities focusing on holistic support for Young Carers
With only 4% of Primary Young Carers finishing high school, we have a crisis on our hands and it is one that will only continue to get worse if severe measures are not taken.
Working with schools needs to be a holistic program including parent education, teacher training and student workshops to create the long lasting change that we need. By only working with students, we may be breaking down stigma but not creating a community where that education can foster and grow.
It is crucial that the NSW Government invests in whole-school-community approaches to support Young Carers in the classroom before it is too late.
Focus on data aggregation and integrity to create long-term change
Whilst current Government reports indicate 100,000 Young Carers in NSW, independent research indicates that the number is much higher. In order for the Government to best support Young Carers across the state, they need an accurate read on the sheer population size of Young Carers.
More funding is required to undertake this research in a manner that reaches young people who would have never identified as a Young Carer as well as those that do.
Re-establish a focus on Australia’s most vulnerable young people
It is broadly recognised that young people need specific marketing and communication techniques (including platforms) to be able to relate to targeted awareness campaigns. We are calling for a targeted awareness campaign with a clear identification call to action to be led for Young Carers across social media, online publications and digital media.
This campaign needs to be co-designed and developed with a range of Young Carers from various demographics, with multi-media advertisements running concurrently. This can be achieved with support from a national media agency, a reference group of Young Carers and community organisations.
The Government must actively engage with Young Carers and act on the change that needs to be created. We need to go back to the drawing board and expand on what was written in the NSW Carer Strategy 2014-2019 to have an active focus on Young Carers.