A group of young carers came together at The Benevolent Society headquarters in Glebe recently to take part in a Young Carer Bake Off. 
It was make or bake as eight young carers (spanning in age from nine to 23) registered in the Carer Gateway program took part in the fun, whipping up and decorating cupcakes and making pizzas.  
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are approximately 2.7 million carers in Australia – 235,300 of them are young carers. 
Carer Gateway is the Australian Government’s free national carer support service with providers across the country, including The Benevolent Society which supports metropolitan Sydney. It has a program tailored specifically to young carers aged 25 years and under. 

“Young carers often face challenges as they try and balance their caring role with their own educational needs,” says Jessica Dallish, who works as a Carer Gateway Young Carer Coordinator at The Benevolent Society. 
“Carer Gateway has programs to support young carers to build their resilience so that they can continue with their education; they can access practical supports such as tutoring, driving lessons, peer support groups and respite, just to name a few.”

Ready, set, bake!  

Not only was the Bake Off a great opportunity to learn important life skills like cooking, it was also a chance to connect with other young carers to build friendships and a network of support. 
Attendees included 14-year-old Grace, who assists in supporting her father who had a stroke the year she was born. While Grace’s mother is the primary carer, Grace and her older sister help their dad with household chores.  
Grace has accessed tutoring for educational support through Carer Gateway and attended several Young Carer events including horse riding, laser skirmish and quad biking among others. 
“Carer Gateway has given me the opportunity to do things I wouldn’t have got the chance to do normally,” Grace says. “I have met lots of people and it’s good to know they are caring for someone too and are in the same boat.” 

Fellow young carer, Ben, 14, was also there. He helps care for his 20-year-old brother, who has an intellectual disability. Ben assists his brother by keeping him company, supporting him with physical tasks, making him lunch and more. 
Through Carer Gateway, Ben has accessed tutoring help and attended many peer support activities including camps, laser skirmish and quad biking. 
“I really like the activities offered as part of the Young Carer Gateway program with Carer Gateway,” Ben says. “It’s a day out where I can do stuff I like and I’ve made quite a few friends. It’s good you’re with other people who are in a similar position.” 
Juggling school with their caring commitments can be a challenge but it’s a role they both enjoy. 
“What I love most about being a carer is helping my brother with things he is not able to do,” Ben says.  
Grace adds: “I get to help my dad with things and it feels quite rewarding because you are helping someone’s life by helping them function physically and mentally.” 

Ben Smiling
Ben smiling as he rolls the dough for a delicious pizza

Everyone’s a winner 

After whipping up their creations, it was time for our judges to pick a winner. The Benevolent Society’s Michael Woodhouse (Executive Director, Disability, Ageing & Carers) and Joanne Fitzgerald (Director of Operations, Carers, Ageing & Support Centre) had the difficult task of judging the cake decorating. 

Everyone walked away a winner, taking home Carer Gateway merchandise that they will be able to use for upcoming young carer activities. But more importantly, they left with new skills and friendships.  

Michelle Williams – Team Leader of the Carer Gateway Team at The Benevolent Society, says: “The Young Carer Bakeoff was a huge success. All the young carers thoroughly enjoyed the experience. 

“Carer Gateway service gives young carers support, tools and strategies to make their life easier. Caring for someone is not an easy task and our goal is to ensure the carer is looked after and able to thrive in their caring role.”

Jessica Dallish (far left) Carer Gateway Young Carer Coordinator and Michelle Williams (far right), Carer Gateway Team Leader) with young carers Grace and Ben.
Jessica Dallish (far left) Carer Gateway Young Carer Coordinator and Michelle Williams (far right), Carer Gateway Team Leader) with young carers Grace and Ben.

For more information about our Carer Gateway service, click here or visit carergateway.gov.au or call 1800 422 737.