The Dream Big Project

The Dream Big Project is a step by step education package for schools and businesses aiming to positively change lives of Young Carers; teachers; other students; carers in the workplace; employers and employees.

Every Australian classroom has 3 Young Carers in it; and only 4% of Young Primary Carers 15-25 engage in education (compared to 23% of all youth this age) with 50% of those continuing education report caring negatively impacts on their attendance, concentration and performance within the classroom.

Within the workforce, 1 in every 8 employees has a caring responsibility. Many carers don’t work, and all face huge barriers to employment. Research has shown that the desire to work, however,  is there. Being a carer isn’t always premeditated. 3-4% of Australia’s workforce become a carer each year, and this can be due to a range of reasons. A partner might fall ill, be in a car accident, or have an ageing parent requiring extra support.

The Dream Big Project provides schools and businesses with training, resources and assistance to support Carers and Young Carers; a toolkit to help identify Young Carers in the classroom and Carers in the workforce; and flexible support plans & skills for the whole organisational community. All organisations will be guided to implement these systems & expectations, creating positive social change in attitudes & interaction, in health conditions, reducing stigma; implications of being a Young Carer or Carer; and peer to peer relationships.

This program is the first of its kind in Australia and similar programs have been tested successfully internationally and we know that it’s time to make the change here.

Want to book a consultation for your business or school? Contact info@littledreamersonline.

Why Carers in the workforce?

At a minimum, workplaces must be supporting carers through access to flexible working arrangements, as stated in the Fair Work Australia Act (2009). But nobody should aim for the minimum, and investing in respect for staff, morale, and wellbeing, pays off in many ways.

Research has shown that the following areas are greatly impacted by supporting carers;

  • Increased staff morale
  • Increased staff retention
  • Reducing sick leave and absenteeism
  • Improved staff engagement
  • Improved service delivery
  • Reducing recruitment and training costs
  • Increase productivity

Evidence shows that these increases aren’t just for the carers in the workplace, but for the workplace at large. This is due to employees recognising the positive changes put in place, and the respect that the organization shows for their staff wellbeing.

Little Dreamers Workplace Accreditation Program is a flexible training and awareness program that will allow your business to fully unlock the potential of your staff. We will work closely with you to develop policies, run workshops, implement strategies, and provide you and your staff with the information you need to maintain a healthy and positive workplace. Supporting carers isn’t just about opening up your business to a wider range of amazing candidates; it’s also about providing support for your current employees who may find themselves in a caring role at any time. The peak caring age is 45-64, which is typically the age when employees have developed a high level of job-related knowledge and experience. You don’t want to lose these employees when their priorities shift due to unforeseen circumstances. Our Accreditation Program will ensure your employees are aware of how much you appreciate their work.

Why the focus on in-school education?

1 in 10 people under the age of 25 live in a family with a parent, brother or sister who has a serious illness or disability. This figure is likely to be a significant underestimate due to the number of ‘hidden’ carers and are projected to increase along with the increases in the prevalence of chronic illness, mental illness, disability and addiction.

Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicates that approximately 60% of primary Young Carers between 15-25 years are unemployed or not in the labour force (compared to 38% of the general population in this age group) and only 4% of primary Young Carers aged 15-25 years are still at school (compared to 23% of the general population in this age group).

Young Carers are at risk of poor physical health, impaired mental health and increased isolation due to their caring role.

While Young Carers need:

  • More opportunities for accessing peer support
  • Widespread community awareness
  • Community education
  • Flexible work environments and targeted transitions to work
  • Travel assistance
  • Adequate income support
  • Regular and flexible coordinated respite

They also need schools and education systems that are more understanding and provide more options for them to meet their full potential.

Research has shown that to participate fully and to achieve positive outcomes in education, students need to feel that they belong or are strongly connected to the school community (Becker & Luthar, 2002; Brendtro & Shahbazian, 2004).

There are many things that impact upon a Young Carers’ education participation including:

  • Challenges getting to school
  • Poverty
  • Lack of time to socialise with friends after school
  • Difficulties in engaging with others who understand
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Feeling uncomfortable and unsafe
  • Expressing anger and other negative emotions

There are currently no widespread, successful programs focussing on Young Carers in education targeted on a whole-schools approach. The Dream Big Project is aiming to fill this gap!