Rockhampton carer shares struggles of looking after children

HARD YARDS: Leigh O’Neil, Sharlene Campbell (carer) and Kylie Hinton share their stories of struggle at Carers Queensland.
HARD YARDS: Leigh O’Neil, Sharlene Campbell (carer) and Kylie Hinton share their stories of struggle at Carers Queensland. Allan Reinikka Rokacarers

SHARLENE Campbell doesn't feel special.

Like any mum, everyday the Rockhampton woman strives to give her children the best life has to offer.

But there is one difference - Sharlene is also a carer. Her son Matthew was born with autism and has suffered from speech and physical delays his whole life.

"At the beginning it was hard," she said.

"There was a lot to take in and people were telling us all different things... but you just have to do the best you can and deal with it."

While the doctors didn't expect Matthew to live past a certain age, he will turn 20 in a few weeks time.

Sharlene shared her touching story with The Morning Bulletin last week, ahead of Carers Week which kicks off on Monday.

The national event aims to raise awareness for unpaid family carers.

With eight kids, Sharlene is no stranger to the ups and downs of parenthood.

She said when she moved to Rockhampton eight years ago she enrolled Matthew in the Rockhampton Special School, where she met others in her position.

She then became involved in Carer's Queensland.

"You really just need someone to listen to you, someone to bounce things off," she said.

"It's knowing someone's there. Their way of coping may be easier than yours, or they might be able to give you a different perspective."

Sharlene said all of her children had been a great support, particularly her daughter who had to step up and take care of her siblings from a young age.

She said Matthew was now working at the Endeavour Foundation and also has a girlfriend.

"He's standing on his own two feet," she said.

"As long as he's happy... that's the aim everyone should have for their children."

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