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"It is what it is I suppose." The schoolgirls who care for their quadriplegic mum.

Despite being just 11 and 17 years old, Sydney sisters Stella and Rose Cox are the primary caregivers to their mum Caroline.

They have been for five years.

“It is what it is I suppose,” 11-year-old Stella told Sunrise over the weekend, adding, “nobody chose this life but it is what it is so we just get on with it.”

two sydney girls caring for their mum full-time

Stella, Caroline and Rose at home. Source: Sunrise

Being left a quadriplegic after contracting transverse myelitis in 2011, Caroline says that without her daughters - who are in years 6 and 12 at school - life as she knows it would not be possible. And according to national statistics, there are 11,000 kids across Australia acting as primary carers, just like Stella and Rose.

"I had to clean, cook, everything under the sun that you could think of. Waking up getting myself ready for primary school, getting my sister ready for daycare," 17-year-old Rose said before later admitting, "I do think sometimes life is unfair, but I believe that things happen for a reason and it's happened to me and I've just got to make the best of the situation."

two sydney girls caring for their mum full-time
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Rose, Caroline and Stella five years ago. Source: Sunrise

Stella also plays a part, sharing a bed with her mother to keep an eye on her throughout the evening.

"I will get up and unblock her catheter and if that doesn't get unblocked her blood pressure rises which increases the chance of having a stroke," Stella said, continuing, "This is how it is so we just get on with it."

But despite playing such pivotal roles in their family's day-to-day life, Stella and Rose have received little recognition from the government. Rose has only just started receiving a fortnightly government assistance payment of $123, and Stella does not receive anything.

two sydney girls caring for their mum full-time

Rose and Stella on their way home from school. Source: Sunrise

Thankfully, though, the federal government has announced a $96 million funding boost for programs that support young carers like Stella and Rose, offering them respite breaks from their responsibilities.

And even though their situation is one of struggle, Caroline says it is working.

“Rose is the vice captain of a 1,200 kid school, Stella goes to a primary school of 600 kids and she's the school captain. I think we're doing okay as a unit,” she said.

Young carers in Australia need your support. Find out how you can help here.

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