Young carer shines with community spirit

Take a moment to acknowledge more than 2.6 million Australians who provide support to a family member or friend this National Carers Week, from 16 to 22 October. 

Carers play an invaluable role in the community. They come from all walks of life, all cultures and all religions.  Some are just 10 years old, while others are nearing 90.  

They may be spouses, parents, sons or daughters, siblings, friends, nieces or nephews, or neighbours. 

Young carer Gillian Fox lives in North Melbourne with her family. She helps take care of her brother Oslo, who is autistic. 

‘My brother gets stressed by a lot of things due to his sensory issues, so I always have to be vigilant and ready for something to go wrong, even in my own home,’ Gill said. 

Celebrating Little Dreamers 

Gill’s important role as a young carer led her to connect with Little Dreamers, an inspiring organisation we celebrated in the Melbourne Awards in 2019. 

Little Dreamers honours young people who provide care for a family member affected by disability or illness, offering ‘dream experiences’, mentoring, pathways to education and employment, and advice to government. 

‘Little Dreamers helped me find healthy emotional outlets,’ Gill said. 

‘A lot of the time I felt I always had to be there for Oslo no matter what, but Little Dreamers taught me that I can put myself first.’ 

Little Dreamers will mark National Carers Week with morning teas, storytelling and the Dream Big Gala, to raise funds to support young carers. To learn more, visit Little Dreamers. 

Wise words from a young carer 

If you are a carer who is feeling overwhelmed or isolated, Gill has some sage advice. 

‘You can and should scream and cry and be angry at the world when you need to. It doesn’t make you a bad person.’ 

While being a carer can be challenging at times, Gill and her family find it uplifting to be part of their local neighbourhood. 

‘What my family and I really enjoy about Melbourne is the community,’ Gill said. 

‘We shop at local markets, we buy things through Good Karma networks and attend festivals and events. 

‘People are always understanding, and that sense of community isn’t something you can find somewhere else.’ 

Support for carers 

It is important for carers to keep in touch with the services, activities and people in their neighbourhood. 

We provide a range of programs to support carers year-round, including: 

  • information sessions about health and wellbeing 
  • a monthly walking group and morning tea 
  • exercise programs  
  • monthly emails with information and resources. 

To join any of these programs or to find out more, visit Carers, call 9658 9190 or contact healthyageing@melbourne.vic.gov.au.