‘What I probably like most is when they tell me to help them make something to eat – it’s probably my favourite thing.’

When you think of a carer, you might picture an adult taking care of another adult or child. However, there are many carers out there who are under the age of 18 years. In April, children of all ages in a caring role came together for Youth Week at Toogoolawah Pictures in Queensland to watch a short film called ‘The Young Carer Journey’, which was followed by a feature film.

Local Progress Association worked with Somerset Regional Council and Wellways Carer Gateway’s Young Carer Support Worker, Tammy Conway, to host this free event – with popcorn. You can’t have a movie without popcorn! The aim was to raise community awareness and build on relationships amongst the schools, children, parents and carers in the region.

The star of the show? Young carer, Liam! In 2021, at the young age of eight-years old, Liam bravely stepped into an occasional carer role for his great-grandparents, Julie and John. The short film captures Liam painting animals with other young carers, sweeping, and making pancakes for ‘Ninny’ and ‘Dad’ (aka Julie and John).

‘Most of the time I have to do chores when I get home [from school],’

It was in 2012 that Julie and John took Liam, just months old, permanently into their care. Little did they know that eight years later they would start to rely on Liam just as much. While Julie and John are quite self-reliant, Liam has willingly been growing his list of responsibilities for the past two years to support them.

In 2021 Liam gained a phenomenal support network in Wellways Carer Gateway. After registering with his great-grandparents, Carer Gateway arranged for Liam to attend swimming lessons. When his support worker, Tammy Conway, also realised that additional learning support could help Liam, Carer Gateway stepped in to assist him to get back-to-school with help from Officeworks and Rebel Sport.

Liam was also referred to Little Dreamers, a program that provides tailored support and guidance to young carers. Carer Gateway made it possible for him to attend the Get Real retreat and Get Real camp with Little Dreamers so that he could meet other children in caring roles. ‘When we do special activities, it usually gives me time to relax. I was really excited to meet other people and maybe become friends with them,’ he says.

Liam painting with friends

Liam was also the star on the movie day! Not only did he share with the audience his thoughts on being a young carer and how Carer Gateway has supported him, but he confidently helped Tammy with activities to engage the audience.

Tammy has been consistent in her support for Liam. When his great-grandmother couldn’t afford the fees to send Liam to St Mary’s College, Tammy met with the Principal and arranged to have the school fees waivered.

Being a young carer is a big responsibility, and it is important for these children to have strong networks of support so that they are able to keep up with schoolwork and have a social life alongside their caring role.

Wellways Carer Gateway can help young carers to achieve this and live their lives to the fullest with support through peer groups, activities, and fun - engaging experiences that young carers would otherwise not usually get the chance to do.

The Young Carer Journey

Liam tells us about his life as a young carer

Carer Gateway is a national support service funded by the Australian Government. It provides free support for carers through a network of regional Carer Gateway service providers. Wellways is the chosen provider of Carer Gateway services throughout Queensland and the New South Wales regions of South-West Sydney and Nepean Blue Mountains.

Through Carer Gateway service providers such as Wellways can provide:

  • Carer Support Planning
  • Counselling
  • In-Person Peer Support
  • Facilitated Coaching
  • Emergency Respite Care

How to access Carer Gateway

Our Carer Gateway QLD and NSW teams are available 6am-10pm, 7 days a week.

To register for services, call 1800 422 737 or visit carergateway.gov.au for more information.

Emergency care respite is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1800 422 737.

Carers can also request a call back.