With the recent resurgence of own voices stories (books about characters from marginalised groups in which the author shares the same identity) resonating with readers, author Amra Pajalić re-published her young adult novel as Sabiha’s Dilemma, and has repackaged it as the first book in the series. Her third book, Jesse’s Triumph, continues the story of six sassy teens coming of age in St Albans, as they navigate their sexual and cultural identity, and search for belonging.
In Jesse’s Triumph, Jesse's childhood took a backseat as he became his ailing mother's primary caregiver, patiently counting down the days until high school finished and his real life began. After Jesse’s debut novel is published while he’s a high school student, he contends with becoming popular. Delving into familiar themes of friendship, coming of age and dating, this novel also deals with themes of young adult carers with Jesse and his sister Sarah, being carers for their ailing mother. According to the Carers Australia report, there are an estimated 380,000 young carers across the country. These young people face unique challenges that impact their physical, emotional, and social well-being.
Exploring these young carers navigate the complex terrain of caregiving while striving to pursue their own dreams and aspirations. Pajalic says, ‘My mother was a bipolar sufferer and growing up my education was interrupted when I had to take a time out of school to stay home and care for her. This experience led to me experiencing social isolation and carrying a heavy emotional toll, but has also gifted me with incredible resilience and mental toughness in pursuing my creative aspirations. In the first book we are introduced to Jesse through Sabiha’s point of view, and initially she finds him nerdy and takes him for granted, and I wanted to explore Jesse’s internal story and his mental toughness. I also wanted to centre the love triangle and untangle and unravel it more and give my readers the joy of a best friends love triangle.’
Here are some facts about young adult carers in Australia:
Definition of Young Adult Carers:
- Young adult carers in Australia are individuals aged 18 to 25 who provide significant, unpaid care to a family member or friend with a disability, illness, mental health condition, or substance misuse issues.
Number of Young Adult Carers:
- According to Carers Australia, there are approximately 2.7 million unpaid carers in Australia. A significant portion of this population includes young adults.
- Many young adult carers face difficulties in pursuing education due to their caregiving responsibilities. Balancing caring duties with attending school, TAFE (Technical and Further Education), or university can be challenging.
- Young adult carers may encounter obstacles in establishing and maintaining employment due to the unpredictable nature of caregiving responsibilities. This can lead to financial strain and difficulties in career advancement.
Mental Health Impact:
- The stress and emotional strain associated with caregiving responsibilities can contribute to mental health issues among young adult carers. Anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation are common challenges.
Limited Social Opportunities:
- Young adult carers often have limited time for socializing and engaging in recreational activities. This can impact their ability to build friendships and establish a support network outside of their caregiving responsibilities.
- Many young adult carers may face financial difficulties, as their caregiving responsibilities can limit their ability to work or pursue educational opportunities. This financial strain can impact their overall well-being.
Health and Well-being:
- Juggling caregiving responsibilities with personal health and well-being can be challenging. Young adult carers may neglect their own health needs, leading to long-term consequences.
Lack of Recognition and Support:
- Young adult carers may feel a lack of recognition and support from the broader community. Raising awareness about their role and providing support services is crucial for their well-being.
Policy and Advocacy Needs:
- There is a need for policies and programs that specifically address the unique challenges faced by young adult carers. Advocacy efforts can help ensure that their voices are heard and their needs are considered in government policies and community initiatives.