Young carers support group wins state award

NSW Carers Awards at Parliament House: MP Geoff Provest, Owana Stacey (mother of NKC participant), Leone Crayden (On Track CEO), Caroline Haydon (NKC Caseworker), Minister for Ageing and Disability Andrew Constance. Photo: Contributed
NSW Carers Awards at Parliament House: MP Geoff Provest, Owana Stacey (mother of NKC participant), Leone Crayden (On Track CEO), Caroline Haydon (NKC Caseworker), Minister for Ageing and Disability Andrew Constance. Photo: Contributed Contributed

TWEED residents are clearly well looked after, proven when Northern Rivers Care won the annual NSW carers award at Parliament last week.

Tweed MP Geoff Provest and NSW Minister for Disability Services Andrew Constance presented the award and recognised the NRC for its leadership in supporting young carers.

On Track Community Programs CEO Leone Crayden said only 12 out of 80 organisations were asked to attend parliament and NRC was one of them.

"NRC aims to build resilience and educate them (young carers) about what mental illness is and ensuring they have a plan in place if parents are unwell," she said.

"In Tweed we have two case workers and they provide support to about 20-30 families a year."

NRC incorporates a network of programs to enhance the livelihood of young people dealing in an environment where their family is affected by mental health problems.

Young carers up to the age of 18 are educated through peer support and interactive programs to increase their ability to cope effectively and develop healthy relationships.

Programs such as SMILES focus on simplifying mental illness for young children and enhancing their life skills.

SMILES is one of many tools NRC incorporates to provide freedom and knowledge for young people.

NRC case manager Caroline Hayden said they have many programs teaching children self-esteem building exercises and basic mental health education.

"They share in the group, their own experiences or they might draw their experiences and we help them to reflect on that," she said.

"They learn life skills as well, so coping strategies, when mum or dad is not well, what we can do to cope in that situation."

Reconnect Fun Days are offered after the programs - SMILES and KOPING Adolescents - allowing families and children to get to know each other and continue their friendships.

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