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Campbell leads the way

Saturday, 17th October, 2020

High school student Campbell Quintrell helps care for his 11-year-old sister. PICTURE: Craig Brealey High school student Campbell Quintrell helps care for his 11-year-old sister. PICTURE: Craig Brealey

By Craig Brealey

Think of the word “carer” and what will probably come to mind is someone of middle age who looks after their elderly mother or father.

Campbell Quintrell, 16, is in Year 10 at Willyama High School and he works a job some nights after school. He also has another job, and that is helping look after his 11-year-old sister.

“In 2017 my sister Myleigh had an hour-long seizure and it didn’t stop,” Campbell said. “It could have been going longer because she was having the seizure when we found her.

“She went to hospital and was flown to Adelaide where she stayed for a week.

“They found that Myleigh had epilepsy but she also has behavioral issues, and socially and mentally she has not grown up, although she is becoming more independent.”

Campbell said his father, Randall, was Myleigh’s main carer but he had his hands full.

“You never know when she’s going to have a seizure,” he said.

“He’s a single dad and looks after all three of us. He does a really good job but when he is not home I’ll take care of her with my younger sister, Dakota.

“Dad’s done that for seven years. I cook dinner for us most nights to give him a break. He’s usually there all day and he gets a carer’s allowance.”

But Campbell said his being a young carer was not exceptional.

“There are a few kids my age with siblings who have disabilities and they watch out for them at school and help them at home,” he said.

Last year for Children’s Week, Campbell was invited to Parliament House in Sydney where he gave and address about what being a young carer was like.

“When people think of carers they think more on the adult side of it. We don’t get the same recognition as adults, although some children look after their parents,” he said.

“I’m going to do it again this year and my topic will be reforming the education system. Less testing and grading, and more of a focus on learning for the future.”

That will be on October 29 but it will be held online instead due to the coronavirus restriction.

This week was National Carers’ Week when the government acknowledges the work of unpaid carers and invites the public to do the same.

The NSW Minister for Families, Community Services and Disability, Gareth Ward, said the government was aware of the outstanding work done by Campbell and others and was intent on making life easier for them.

This will involve a new page on the Service NSW website and an awareness campaign, “It’s Caring”, to help carers self-identify and seek help.

Plans will then be released every two years over 10 years to set out the steps NSW Government agencies and the sector were taking to better support and recognise carers.

“Under the strategy, the NSW Government will make it easier for carers to access information and services, reduce financial stress and look after their own health and wellbeing,” said Mr Ward.

In NSW, there are 850,000 carers who look after a family member or friend who is elderly, has a disability, mental illness, alcohol or drug dependency, or a long-term health condition.

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