Meredith Kiraly

Biography

Dr Meredith Kiraly is a psychologist with over thirty years experience specialising in out of home care, and particularly in kinship care. She is a Research Fellow in the Social Work Department at the University of Melbourne and has a small consultancy in human services.

Abstract

Current estimates from census data are that there are up to 50,000 kinship carers age 30 or under in Australia, mostly providing care through informal arrangements. Young kinship carers are an unrecognised cohort, yet many take on extraordinary challenges in early adulthood in order to provide care to traumatised siblings, nephews/nieces, and other young relatives or family friends. Considerable numbers of young kinship carers are single; some are also caring for children of their own. Many are forced to abandon their studies and employment, and they frequently live in poverty and overcrowded housing. Many face conflict with the children’s parents and members of the extended family in relation to the children’s care. Despite the burden of care, these young people are excluded from young carer programs unless a child in their care has a disability. They are not eligible for free child care such as is available to grandparent kinship carers, and they often find kinship support groups to be overwhelmingly focused on grandparent care.
This paper will describe research in progress to identify the support needs of young kinship carers, and present an innovative web-based support model tailored to the needs of these excluded young carers, together with current work to establish a pilot support service. The pilot forms a component of the ongoing research project Young and ‘care-full’: the support needs of young kinship carers that is supported by a major grant from the Sidney Myer Fund.
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