2071.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia - Stories from the Census, 2016  
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YOUNG CARERS

INTRODUCTION

Carers provide unpaid care and assistance to family or friends with disability, long-term health conditions or those who are frail or aged. They make a valuable contribution to the lives of those for whom they care, and have a significant role in Australia’s health care system.

While caring can be rewarding, the time and effort taken to provide assistance to a loved one can affect a carer's ability to participate in education and work, maintain friendships and social life, and may have a negative effect on wellbeing and mental health1. Young carers can be particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of providing care1 as they transition from education to employment.

The following article analyses the characteristics of young carers based on data from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing. It highlights young carers’ geographical distribution, engagement in education and employment, household composition and income.

Definition of young carers


For the purpose of this analysis, ‘young carers’ refers to people aged 15-24 years who reported that they had spent time providing unpaid care, help or assistance to family members or others because of disability, a long-term health condition or problems related to old age in the two weeks prior to the 2016 Census night. While there are people younger than 15 years of age who provide care, the Census does not capture the relevant information for this population. For more detailed information about carers, see the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers.


POPULATION


The 2016 Census found that one in twenty people (5.6% or 151,600 people) aged 15-24 years were young carers. The proportion of young people who were carers has increased slightly, from 5.0% in 2006. In addition, there were 257,800 young people who did not state whether they provided unpaid care.

Caring across the lifespan

Many people provide care or assistance to friends or loved ones during their life. In 2016 there were a total of 2.1 million people in Australia who reported that they provided unpaid care. Young people aged 15-24 years made up 16% of the population aged 15 years and over, and represented almost one in 15 carers (7.1%).

Rates of unpaid care increased with age up to 55-64 years, and then declined for those aged 65 years and over. Women were more likely to provide care than men across the lifespan, with women making up 60% of all carers aged 15 years and over.

Similarly among young people, the proportion who reported providing care rose with age, from 5.1% of 15-19 year olds to 6.0% of 20-24 year olds in 2016. Over the last decade, rates of caring among young people have been increasing from 4.5% of 15-19 year olds and 5.5% of 20-24 year olds in 2006.


Graph Image for Proportion of carers(a) by age and sex, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



Graph Image for Proportion of carers(a) by age, 2006-2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2006, 2011 and 2016




Caring between the sexes

In line with trends among all carers, young women made up more than half (55%) of all young carers in 2016. Over the last decade rates of caring have been consistently higher among young women than young men, with 6.2% of young women reporting they were carers in 2016, compared with 4.9% of young men.


Graph Image for Proportion of young carers(a) by sex, 2006-2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2006, 2011 and 2016




WHERE YOUNG CARERS LIVE

In 2016 there were more young carers (aged 15-24 years) in NSW (50,000), Victoria (38,600) and Queensland (29,600), reflecting the relatively larger populations within these states.

YOUNG CARERS BY STATE AND TERRITORY, 2016(a)

Aged 15-19 years
Aged 20-24 years
Total aged 15-24 years

Number
Proportion of
population (%)
Number
Proportion of
population (%)
Number
Proportion of
population (%)

New South Wales
21 783
5.3
28 240
6.3
50 022
5.8
Victoria
15 781
4.9
22 776
6.0
38 562
5.5
Queensland
13 432
5.0
16 191
5.6
29 623
5.3
South Australia
4 775
5.2
6 369
6.3
11 147
5.8
Western Australia
6 362
4.7
8 015
5.5
14 380
5.1
Tasmania
1 337
4.8
1 691
6.1
3 028
5.4
Northern Territory
980
8.6
1 136
8.3
2 117
8.4
Australian Capital Territory
1 156
5.0
1 517
5.2
2 674
5.1
Australia(b)
65 614
5.1
85 961
6.0
151 569
5.6

(a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care.
(b) Total includes Other Territories.
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


The proportion of young people who were carers varied somewhat between the states and territories. Most notable was the relatively high proportion of young carers in the Northern Territory, where one in twelve 15-19 year olds (8.6%) and 20-24 year olds (8.3%) provided unpaid assistance. This is particularly interesting given that the Northern Territory has one of the lowest proportions of carers aged 15 years and over (11%). It may in part be due to the larger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, who were more likely than non-Indigenous people to have provided care across Australia, regardless of age (15% compared with 12%). The Northern Territory’s younger age profile2 may also be a factor.

Regional Australia

Within each state and territory there was considerable variation in the proportion of young carers across the different regions, with higher rates of young carers living outside the major cities, particularly in the Northern Territory.

In 2016, the proportion of young people who were carers was highest across a number of regions in the Northern Territory, including East Arnhem in the north east, where one in five (21%) young people aged 15-24 years were carers. Similarly, in Barkly in central Northern Territory, 16% of people aged 15-24 years were carers. In contrast, of young people in Darwin City, 4% were carers.

Among the other states and territories there was also variation across regions in the proportion of young people who reported providing unpaid assistance. For example, in Victoria’s Tullamarine-Broadmeadows area, adjacent to Melbourne Airport on the western fringe of Melbourne, 7.9% of people aged 15-24 years were carers, compared to 3.1% of those in Melbourne City. Similarly in New South Wales, the proportion of young people who provided care ranged from 8.3% in the Clarence Valley in the state’s north east to 3.4% in Sydney Inner City.


PROPORTION OF YOUNG CARERS BY STATISTICAL AREA LEVEL 3


Map showing proportion of young carers by statistical area level 3


ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES

In Australia, 9.3% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 15-24 years (10,300 people) were carers in the two weeks prior to the 2016 Census. Women made up over half (58%) of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were carers, similar to the overall population of young carers in Australia.

Around one in ten (10.6%) young female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were carers, remaining steady since 2006 (10.4%).The rate of young male Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were carers has increased slightly, from 7.5% in 2006, to 8.1% in 2016.


Graph Image for Proportion of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers(a) aged 15-24 years by sex, 2006-2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2006, 2011 and 2016



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely than non-Indigenous people to provide unpaid care across the lifespan, and this was particularly so among younger people. Rates of caring among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15-19 and 20-24 years were almost twice as high as non-Indigenous people.


Graph Image for Proportion of carers(a) by Indigenous status(b) and age, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care. (b) Excludes those who did not state their Indigenous status.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



Higher proportions of young carers among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population compared with the non-Indigenous population may reflect the different health outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who are more likely to have disability3 than non-Indigenous people, and experience earlier onset of long-term health conditions such as cardiovascular disease4.

It may also be due to the generally larger households in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live5, which may include multiple generations or extended family. In 2016, young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were carers were more than twice as likely (14%) to live in a multiple family household than non-Indigenous young carers (6.1%).


BIRTHPLACE AND LANGUAGE

Cultural perceptions and expectations about providing care may increase the likelihood of caring among young people from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds. For those from collectivist cultures6 which strongly value family relationships, rates of young carers may be higher. Furthermore, migrants from countries who have come to Australia as humanitarian entrants may be more likely to have come with family for whom care is required. In contrast, for young people born overseas who have come to Australia for work, a lack of co-resident family may reduce the need to provide care.

Region of birth

The 2016 Census found that there was variability in the provision of unpaid care depending on a person’s region of birth. Young people who were born in North Africa or the Middle East were most likely to report that they provided unpaid care (10.8% and 9.4%, respectively). In contrast, those who were born in North-West Europe (2.9%) or South America (2.5%) were least likely to report that they provided unpaid care.


Graph Image for Proportion of young carers(a) aged 15-24 years, selected region of birth, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care. (b) Excludes Australia. (c) Australian-born includes those born in Other Territories. Other Territories include Norfolk Island, Jervis Bay Territory, the Territory of Christmas Island and the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Island, but does not include any other external territory.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016




Language spoken at home

Carers may need to access services for help or support either for themselves or the person they care for. Having a lower level of English language proficiency may make accessing and understanding the available support services more difficult. Some young people may take on a caring role if their English language skills are higher than other family members.

In 2016, over one-quarter (27% or 40,300 people) of young carers spoke a language other than English. However, their English proficiency tended to be higher than those who spoke a language other than English who were not carers. Of young carers who spoke a language other than English, almost three-quarters (72%) spoke English very well, compared to 64% of those who were not carers. A small proportion of young carers did not speak English well (5.8%) or at all (0.6%).


Graph Image for People aged 15-24 years who speak a language other than English, English proficiency(a) by carer status(b), 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Language and proficiency not stated and Language stated, proficiency not stated are included in the total when calculating proportions. (b) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016




HOUSEHOLDS AND FAMILIES

Young people may provide unpaid care to a friend or family member, including siblings, parents, grandparents or their own children. While the Census cannot tell us who young people care for, it can provide some insight into the types of household compositions where young carers are more likely to be.

The Census found that there were 119,800 young carer households (households with at least one carer aged 15-24 years) in 2016, representing 1.4% of all households in Australia. Over half (52%) of young carer households were made up of couple families with children, compared with 55% of households with young people who were not carers. Young carer households were more likely to be single parent families (26%) than households with young people who were not carers (20%).


Graph Image for Households with at least one person aged 15-24 years by whether included a young carer(a) by family structure(b), 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care. (b) Excludes visitor only and other non-classifiable households.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016




Household size


Young carer households tended to be slightly larger than those without young carers. In 2016, the average number of people in households with at least one young carer was 3.9, slightly higher than in those households with young people who were not carers (3.6 people).


NEED FOR ASSISTANCE

In addition to caring for a loved one, some young carers may themselves have a need for assistance due to disability or a long-term health condition, and may need additional support as a carer. Of all young people aged 15-24 years in 2016, 2.8% of males and 1.8% of females reported that they had a need for assistance.

Those who were young carers were more likely to have a need for assistance, with 3.8% of young male carers and 2.9% of young female carers having a need for assistance, increasing from 2.3% and 1.5% respectively in 2006.


Graph Image for Young carers(a), proportion with a need for assistance(b) by sex, 2006-2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care. (b) Includes those who did not state whether they had a need for assistance.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing 2006, 2011 and 2016




EDUCATION

Year 12 completion - young carers aged 20-24 years


Education is a means of empowering young people to become active participants in social and economic life. The commitments of caring for a loved one may affect a young person's ability to attend or finish their education.

Overall, rates of year 12 completion have been increasing over the last decade among all young people, including young carers. However, in 2016 young carers were still less likely to have completed Year 12 or its equivalent (75%) than those of the same age who did not provide unpaid care (79%).


Graph Image for People aged 20-24 years, carer status(a) by year 12 completion(b)(c), 2006-2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care. (b) Excludes persons still at primary or secondary school. (c) Year 12 or equivalent.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing 2006, 2011 and 2016



The 2016 Census found that three-quarters (75%) of young carers aged 20-24 years had completed Year 12 or its equivalent, increasing from 68% in 2006. Young women (aged 20-24 years) with caring responsibilities were more likely to have completed Year 12 or its equivalent (77%) than young men (72%).


Graph Image for Carers(a) aged 20-24 years, year 12 completion(b)(c) by sex, 2006-2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care. (b) Excludes persons still at primary or secondary school. (c) Year 12 or equivalent.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2006, 2011 and 2016




WORK

Employment by age and sex


Structural changes to the labour market, such as a decrease in some unskilled jobs7, as well as increasing year 12 completion, has led to a decrease in the proportion of young people, including young carers, who were engaged in full-time employment over recent decades.

In 2016, almost half (49%, or 73,900 people) of all young people who provided unpaid assistance were working (compared with 56% of those of the same age who did not provide care). Rates of employment were similar between young male (48%) and female (50%) carers, and have been decreasing for both since 2006 (57% and 54%, respectively).


Graph Image for Young carers(a), proportion employed(b)(c) by sex, 2006-2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care. (b) Includes those who were employed but away from work. (c) Labour force status not stated is excluded from the total when calculating proportions.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing 2006, 2011 and 2016



Part-time work is common among young people transitioning from school through higher education and employment, and offers a valuable opportunity to gain skills and experience before entering full-time work. In 2016, more young people, including young carers, were working part-time, while fewer were working full-time.


Graph Image for Young carers(a), employed by whether worked full-time or part-time(b), 2006-2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care. (b) Totals used to calculate proportions include those who were employed but away from work.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing 2006, 2011 and 2016




Employment by occupation

Young carers have a similar occupation pattern to non-carers, with occupations varying somewhat by sex. In 2016, the most commonly reported occupations among young female carers were Sales workers (29%) and Community and personal service workers (27%), while young male carers were more likely to be employed as Technicians and trade workers (24%) or Labourers (22%).


Graph Image for Young carers(a), employed by occupation(b) and sex, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care. (b) Excludes those whose occupation was inadequately described or not stated.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016




Employment by industry

Service industries such as retail and hospitality are common sources of employment for young people. In 2016, around one in five young working carers (21%) and non-carers (22%) were employed in Retail trade, closely followed by Accommodation and food services (20% of carers and 22% of non-carers).


Graph Image for Young carers(a), employed by selected industry(b) and sex, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care. (b) Excludes those whose industry was inadequately described or not stated.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016




ENGAGED IN WORK OR STUDY

A lack of engagement in either education and/or work can increase the risk of becoming long-term unemployed, underemployed or marginally attached to the labour force. Young carers were less likely to be engaged in work or study than those of the same age who were not carers.

In 2016, 68% of young carers were fully engaged in either work and/or study, compared with 78% of those without caring responsibilities. Almost one in five (18%) young carers were not engaged in either education or work in 2016, unchanged since 2006 (18%). Young carers were almost twice as likely as non-carers (9.8%) to be unengaged in either work or study.


Graph Image for People aged 15-24 years, whether engaged in work or study(a)(b), by carer status(c), 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Includes people who are engaged in either full-time work or study or who combine any hours of work with any hours of study. (b) Engagement status undetermined or not stated is included in the total when calculating proportions. (c) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



The proportion of young female carers who were fully engaged in work or study has increased (from 63% in 2006 to 66% in 2016). This increase brings rates of engagement for young female carers closer to that of young male carers, for whom rates have been in decline (from 72% in 2006, to 70% in 2016).


Graph Image for Young carers(a) fully engaged in work or study by sex, 2006-2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing 2006, 2011 and 2016




INCOME

Young carers were more likely to live in a household with a lower income (less than $800 per week) than young people without caring responsibilities.

After adjustment for household size and composition, just over one quarter (28%) of people aged 15-24 years who provided unpaid assistance reported an equivalised weekly household income of $1,000 or more per week, compared with 37% of non-carers aged 15-24 years.


Graph Image for People aged 15-24 years, equivalised weekly household income(a) by carer status(b), 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Totals used to calculate proportions include those where partial income stated and all incomes not stated. (b) Excludes those who did not state whether they provided care. (c) Equivalised weekly household income.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016




EXPLANATORY INFORMATION

Those who did not state whether they provided unpaid care or assistance have been excluded from analysis.

Data reported is usual residence Census Counts. Excludes overseas visitors.

For definitions of the terms used above, see the Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0). Selected items are also included in the Glossary, from the Explanatory Notes tab at the top of this page. For more information about 2016 Census data release and products, go to www.abs.gov.au/census.

Data contained in this article and further related data can be found in the Downloads tab at the top of the page.


For further information about carers, see the
2015 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (cat. no. 4430.0).


FOOTNOTES

1. Department of Social Services, 2002, Young carers research project: Final Report <https://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/publications-articles/young-carers-research-project-final-report?HTML#p1 > accessed 13 April 2018
2. ABS 2016 Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia (cat. no. 3235.0) < http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/ABS@.nsf/7d12b0f6763c78caca257061001cc588/b1fa42608caa209aca257ea4001c1eaa!OpenDocument> access 23 April 2018
3. ABS 2015 Survey of Disability Ageing and Carers (cat. no. 4430.0), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Disability, <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4430.0Main%20Features802015?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=4430.0&issue=2015&num=&view= > accessed 13 April 2018
4. ABS 2012-13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results (cat. No. 4727.0.55.001) <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/838B51AF10E6835ECA257C2F00145961?opendocument > accessed 13 April 2018
5. Morphy, F 2006, Lost in Translation? Remote Indigenous households and definitions of the family, Family Matters, no. 73, pp. 23-31 < https://aifs.gov.au/sites/default/files/fm%281%29.pdf > accessed 13 April 2018
6. SBS Cultural Atlas, Collectivism, <https://culturalatlas.sbs.com.au/glossary#collectivism > accessed 9 April 2018
7. National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM), 2014, We can work it out: Australia’s changing workforce, < http://www.natsem.canberra.edu.au/storage/1-AMP.NATSEM%2036%20We%20can%20work%20it%20out-Australia%5C%27s%20changing%20workforce%20FINAL.pdf> accessed 9 April 2018