How the Young Carers Bursary Program might help
University can be difficult at the best of times. Students often face financial hardship, isolation, and stress alongside their studies. Navigating the new normal of a Covid-19 stricken world only adds to these challenges. However, some students feel the pressure a little more than most. According to the Young Carers Network, a record number of young people are taking on an informal, unpaid carer role. For these young carers, life can prove even more of a juggling act. But, there is support out there.
The Young Carers Network estimates that there are 235,500 young carers in Australia. As defined by the Network, “an informal, unpaid carer is a family member or friend that cares for someone that has a disability, chronic or life-limiting illness, is frail aged, has a mental health illness, alcohol, or other drug-related issues.” Distinct from support workers, carers as the Network defines them are often unqualified and always unpaid. If this sounds like you, you may be eligible for support from the Young Carers Network in the form of the Young Carers Bursary Program.
1,000 grants of $3,000 have been announced to offer some support for young carers in their education. One young carer who experienced this support first-hand is 18-year-old Amanda from Victoria. Amanda has been one of the primary carers for her younger brother Mark, who has autism, for almost two years. The Covid-19 crisis hit her family especially hard.
“Lockdown was a big struggle for us. Mark became more unpredictable and developed aggressive behaviour towards my mum … I think the last time we all sat down for a meal together was early last year, so it’s hard for us all.”
Amanda supports Mark through many of his daily activities, including bathing, meals, and bedtime, as well as extracurriculars on the weekend. After approximately 20 hours of carer duties a week, Amanda also finds time for university, a part-time job, relationships, friendships, and self-care.
“It’s always been important for me to have a support network around me – to keep my mental health in check … I want other young carers to know it’s ok to feel like you can’t balance it all on your own. I’ve been there, and the best thing you can do is reach out for help.”
In 2022, Amanda became a recipient of the Young Carers Bursary Program. The grant allowed her to purchase a laptop and textbooks to support her studies as she works her way through a Biomedical Science degree. The extra support also helped her buy her first car, allowing her and Mark a little more freedom in their daily lives.
Applications for the Young Carers Bursary Program are open from 19 July – 13 September 2022. Young carers aged 12 to 15 are encouraged to apply. The program is just one of the many ways that the Young Carers Network works to support those in need. To read more about eligibility for the program, you can click here. To find out more about what the Network can offer, you can visit their website here. Thanks to the efforts by the Young Carers Network to offer support to young students like Amanda, young carers everywhere might be able to take a little something more off their plate.
Hi, I’m Steph! I’m the Assistant Editor here at Opus and a current PhD student in Creative Writing. I like to write about the arts, especially how books, music, and games can influence communities of young people. When I’m not writing for Opus, you’ll probably find me with my nose in a book, nomming on some vegan banana bread, or farming my crops on Stardew Valley.