[Sub ID 4725] Young carers professional network and online platform (Carers NSW)

Submission ID: 4725
Organisation name: Carers NSW
Contact name: Ms Sarah Judd-Lam
State: NSW
Contact email: sarahj@carersnsw.org.au
Contact number: 9280 4744

Which priority group of the Try, Test and Learn Fund does your idea support?
Young carers

What need or issue are you trying to address?
Personal networks and contacts are a common source of recruitment to positions of employment. This places young carers at a disadvantage, as the demands of a caring role can reduce young carers’ capacity to develop and maintain personal networks from an early age. Some young carers are prevented from regularly attending school, therefore missing out on the inevitable networking opportunities it can provide into the future, while others have little time outside of their caring role to socialise with their peers or get to know others in their community, reducing opportunities for information sharing and employment opportunities.

Furthermore, many young carers support a parent with a disability, mental illness or health condition who is unable to work. Young carers are also statistically more likely to live in single parent families than their peers. This means that many young carers do not even have access to a parent’s employment related contacts and networks, which many young people rely on to help them access employment.

Carers NSW has acquired this understanding as a result of supporting young carers through the Carers NSW Young Carer program, consulting with young carer representatives in relation to this submission, and analysing data from the 41 young carer respondents to the Carers NSW 2016 Carer Survey and data from the ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers.

What is your idea?
We propose the establishment of a professional network that is specifically geared towards providing opportunities for young carers to connect with professionals and employers in their field of interest, as well as other young carers seeking work. The network would involve locally based networking events and a national online forum, such as a Facebook or LinkedIn group, where young carers, professionals, employers and employment experts can share information, ideas and opportunities.

The network would meet face to face six monthly in a number of central locations across Australia, and continue to expand and share information throughout the year via the online platform, which would be constantly monitored and updated to ensure regular activity. The moderator would manage and promote membership, remove inappropriate postings and source guest editors to provide articles and commentary in their area of expertise. The online platform would also make the network more accessible for young carers unable to attend the face to face events due to their geographic location or care responsibilities.

Ongoing contact between employers and young carers is also likely to increase awareness about how to accommodate young carers in the workplace, potentially opening up flexible employment opportunities for young carers outside the program.