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Unpaid Carers in Australia: An Overlooked Challenge

Oct 17, 2023

National Carers Week 2023, themed “Millions of Reasons to Care,” highlights the often-unseen dedication of the 2.65 million unpaid carers in Australia. However, behind the applause lies a stark gender imbalance and constant financial and often personal struggle for these caregivers.

In Australia, one in three carers serves as a “primary carer,” shouldering the primary responsibility for an individual’s care. One in three primary carers cares for their partners, while just over one in four cares for their children (including adult children) and parents. These statistics underscore a gender disparity, with women aged 55 to 64 being the most likely to have a caring role. Women, in general, are more likely to be carers than men, especially in the role of primary carers.

Carers are more likely to live with disabilities themselves and often reside in rural areas (at least one in ten), according to the 2020 National Carer Survey. More than half of those who responded to the survey indicated that they were socially isolated or highly socially isolated.

Financially, one in four carers had left a paid job at some point in order to care, and one in three had reduced their working hours. Half of the carers who responded to the survey had experienced some form of financial stress in the past 12 months.

One in three carers relies on Centrelink payments as their primary income source, while 43% are not in paid employment or actively seeking work, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Member for Hawkesbury said National Carers Week was an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the vital work that carers did for family members and friends in Hawkesbury, particularly unpaid care and support to people with disability, mental health condition, chronic illness, drug and alcohol dependency or who are ageing.

“Caring for a family member or friend takes time, dedication and patience, and National Carers Week is an opportunity to celebrate the vital work carers do in Hawkesbury,” said Ms Preston.

Ms Preston said the NSW Liberal and National Government allocated $4.9 million in 2021-22 as part of the NSW Carers Strategy 2020-2030. Carers can access support through the Carer Gateway at 1800 422 737.

National Carers Week 2023, from October 15 to October 21, 2023, is an opportunity to appreciate the dedication of unpaid carers and advocate for better support and compensation for their work.

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