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We’re all in it together: supporting young carers and their families in Australia

Authors

  • Tim Moore BA M Child&Adol Welf, M Youth Studies,

    1. Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University, Watson, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
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  • Morag McArthur Dip.Welfare, BSocSci (Hons), Postgrad Cert Higher Ed Teaching, PhD

    1. Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University, Watson, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
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Tim Moore Research Fellow Institute of Child Protection StudiesAustralian Catholic University Watson ACTAustralia E-mail: tim.moore@acu.edu.au

Abstract

Although recent initiatives in Australia have attempted to respond to the needs of children and young people with care responsibilities, many continue to be unable to access responsive supports. A qualitative, exploratory study was conducted to identify the current needs and barriers to services for young carers and their families in Canberra, Australia. This paper focuses on a range of family, service and systems level issues that impede young carers’ access to services. The findings are based on semistructured, face-to-face interviews conducted with 50 children and young people with care responsibilities. Purposive and snowballing sampling were used to recruit the sample. Peer researchers were involved in the development of the research parameters and conducted and analysed interviews. Young carers in this sample reported high levels of need but low levels of support provided formally and informally by their extended families and the service sector. Major barriers to support included reluctance within families to seek assistance for fear of child removal, negative intervention and increased scrutiny; the families’ lack of awareness of available services; a lack of flexibility and responsiveness to the holistic needs of families; and a lack of service collaboration. The importance of recognising the specific needs of each member within the family unit was particularly highlighted as was the need for responsive and co-ordinated service supports.

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