Supporting young parents and young carers in Australian higher education

Year: 2018

Author: Szalkowicz, Giovanna, Harvey, Andrew

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

A recent Australian Government report emphasised that both young carers and young parents are extremely over-represented among the long-term unemployed, and are likely to face educational disadvantage (Australian Government Department of Social Services [DSS], 2016). For such groups, higher education provides a potential pathway out of disadvantage, but the experiences of both young parents and young carers in higher education remain under-researched. Both groups have been under-analysed, partly because the existing national student equity framework does not identify either group (Harvey, Burnheim, & Brett, 2016). With the growing diversity of students under demand-driven system, however, it is likely that many higher education institutions are enrolling significant numbers of young carers and/or parents with multiple responsibilities.
This paper will outline our research on the views and experiences of young carers and parents at one Australian multi-campus university. We will reflect on perceived challenges to university access and success, and on self-identified strengths held by the groups. The paper will also explore similarities, differences and intersectionality among the two groups in higher education. Our analysis will be based on semi-structured interviews with university students who are young carers and/or young parents. The paper will contribute new insights to identify university strategies to better support under-represented groups to succeed at university.
Harvey, A., Burnheim, C. & Brett, M. (Eds.) (2016). Student Equity in Australian Higher Education: Twenty-five Years of A Fair Chance for All. Singapore: Springer.
Australian Government Department of Social Services [DSS]. (2016). Baseline Valuation Report. Retrieved from: