Stephanie Pinilla was finally recognised for her role as full-time carer for her disabled mother at Old Sydney Parliament House on Monday. This was part of the National Carers Week which begins this week.
Stephanie’s mother – Jackie Hamilton – was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was pregnant with Stephanie. With an intense maturity that transcends her tender age, Stephanie simply sees her role as “just doing what I do” and that it has “never been a chore for me”.
The New South Wales Carer Awards recognised 71 carers who are among the 850,000 unpaid family carers in NSW. Stephanie was the youngest recipient on the day, received a Highly Commended Award which means that she is in the running for the Carer of the Year Award. Stephanie says that was “nice to be recognised and for people to see the work I do everyday” and “of course I could hear Mum cheering for me!”.
Applying for the award was not something she had ever thought about, “at the time I thought, do I really deserve this?” as her caring role was never something that she questioned doing as she has “lived it from day one”. Stephanie’s daily routine includes “getting mum up and ready, preparing Jared’s lunch, money and notes for the day and then I get ready” which is a huge responsibility but “if someone was in your shoes, they’d do the same”.
Stephanie is only allowed 25 hours away from her mother which she uses during school hours and says that she has not had the “stereotypical rebellious stage” but believes “it’s better for me in the long run”. As she commences her Year 12 studies at Lake Illawarra High School, Stephanie is “definitely going to university” with the hopes of studying either “medicine, teaching or radio”. Whichever road she may take, there is a bright and happy future ahead of this phenomenal young woman.