Young family carers learn the ropes

A GROUP of family carers have received the chance to board Hobart’s ‘Windeward Bound’ and learn the ropes on the historic brigantine as part of National Carers Week.

Aged between 14 and 22, the young family carers – who were brought together by Carers Tasmania and the Fairbrother Foundation – play a significant role in caring for family members who require additional support for health reasons.

Carers Tasmania chief executive officer David Brennan said young carers had stepped up to care for family members out of love.

“Their caring duties have a significant impact on their schooling, work and social relationships,” he said.

“This day was about giving carers the chance to take some time out and learn valuable skills – not only sailing, but teamwork, resilience, and cooperation – and have some much needed fun.”

Fairbrother Foundation director Gaye Rutherford said the business was committed to the Tasmanian community.

“We are inspired by the courage, determination and commitment of these carers,” she said.

“If a day on the Windeward Bound helps them achieve greater wellbeing, then our goal has been achieved.”

Mikayla Francis, 18, and her brother Kyle, 15, actively care for their mother, who has a mental illness, and their grandmother, who lost her eyesight following cataract surgery.

Ms Francis is now at college, but was home schooled previously by distance with her brother so they could provide care within their family.

Ms Francis said herself and her brother were carers because they loved their family, but admitted there had been limitations on their personal lives because of this relationship.

“It can be very hard being young and not being able to do certain things that a lot of others at our ages can,” she said.

“We have been caring for at least five years and experienced the ups and downs, but always seem to pull our family through.

“We really appreciate opportunities such as this where we get to do things that we otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to do.”

Kyle said that young carers make up a surprisingly large portion of Tasmania’s 85,000 family carers.

“There are an estimated 7,600 family carers under the age of 25,” he said.

“Of those, there are about 2,100 young student carers in the school system.

“That equates to one in 27, or one in every classroom.”

National Carers Week ran from 14 to 20 October.

If you are under 25 and caring for a family member or know someone that is, contact Carers Tasmania on 1800 242 636 for information, advice, support and counselling.

Caption: Mikayla Francis, left, and Kyle Francis, who are full time carers for their mother and grandmother, aboard the Windeward Bound.

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