Marching for a cause

Youngcare has thrown down an incredible challenge to adventurous Australians who want to help get young people out of aged care facilities.

Youngcare CEO Marina Vit and trekkers who will walk across the Simpson Desert in June.

By Stephen Easton

A party of around 25 intrepid adventurers will brave the unforgiving environment of the Simpson Desert to raise awareness of the many young people with high care needs who find themselves in aged care facilities, and much needed funds to provide support services and more appropriate accommodation. 

The group will walk 320 kilometres through the centre of the desert over 10 days in early June, climbing more than 1000 sand dunes that can reach 40 metres in height.

The unique challenge is being run by Youngcare, a charitable organisation set up to support and advocate for Australians aged 18-65 with full-time care needs, and sets a minimum fundraising target of $35,000 for each trekker that includes all expenses relating to the trek, 4 months training and travel insurance.

Youngcare CEO Marina Vit is among those taking part in the trek, which she said would give her a greater understanding of the issues faced by the people the charity represents.

“I lead the organisation and the whole point behind it was to demonstrate the isolation and struggle that a young person with 24-hour care needs experiences,” she said.  “I don’t think you could do anything as isolating as crossing a desert on foot.”

“It will challenge me, not just in a physical sense, but also emotionally. Even though you’re in a group, in some ways it’s something you do on your own.”

Ms Vit said the money raised would go towards the Youngcare Connect support hotline, home care grants and providing more accommodation options, like Youngcare’s existing apartments in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast.

Many of the trekkers are carers, and Youngcare chose such a bold adventure to highlight their strength of character and raise awareness of this serious national issue, which also impacts on the availability of beds for older Australians with high care needs.  

Over 6,500 people under 65 currently live in aged care because a more appropriate alternative is not available, according to a 2005 Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee.  

“I don’t think the wider public is aware of the issue,” Ms Vit said.  “It is not right that we live in a modern civilised society that does not take care of people in those sorts of circumstances.”

“I’m looking forward to meeting the other people too; I think lifelong friendships will be forged.  Trekking across a desert will probably be a pretty good bonding situation.”

“I’ve met a number of them and they are very good fun, some have siblings or partners who have high care needs. The issue touches them very, very deeply.  It will be a privilege to walk with people like that.”

Only six people have ever walked through the Simpson Desert, a massive sea of red sand dunes and spinifex grass that covers parts of the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia. 

Tags: aged-care, ageing, high-care, simpson-desert-challenge, youngcare,

1 thought on “Marching for a cause

  1. It looks like our paths will cross when you walk the Simpson desert, that is if the floods will let it happen.
    I am doing my 7th crossing with a small group of people.
    I wish you all the best

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