Young people who take on caring duties at home for relatives are often overlooked for support, have challenges in building friendships and employment skills and are more likely to experience mental health issues that can last beyond their childhood. This was the experience of Madeleine Buchner who, at the age of 15, set out to change the landscape of support available for young carers in her position.
Today, Little Dreamers CEO, Madeleine Buchner, 23, has already taken major steps through her organisation to improve the support available for young carers in Australia. Motivated by her own experience as a young carer, she is on a mission to close the gap in support from the Australian healthcare system for the 420,000 young carers in Australia.
Little Dreamers provides a variety of programmes to support better emotional health and wellbeing for young carers. One such programme is ‘The Day Dream Program’ that provides short breaks for the siblings of children suffering serious illnesses, often in remote, rural locations. Young carers can spend many hours and days accompanying their siblings to medical appointments, and so the programme offers much needed breaks, easing pressure on the parents and other family members during the school holidays.
Workshops include mindfulness, arts and crafts, exercise, dance, drama and music for up to 30 young carers in each group per day.
Little Dreamers and the programmes they offer have received backing from the Australian Federal Government’s Department of Social Services’ Young Carers Research Project. In the Project’s own words, “Young carers have well and truly ‘fallen through the cracks’ of policy and service development in Australia. No one Government department or community organisation has taken responsibility for meeting their needs.”
With a goal to be self-sustaining over time, Little Dreamers has already made huge progress to help meet the needs of young carers. The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust is excited to support and follow the next steps of Madeleine and Little Dreamers as further steps are taken towards achieving full support for young carers in Australia, and beyond.