1970s & 1980s
The carer movement has a history dating back to the early 1970s when the Commonwealth Government introduced the Domiciliary Nursing Care Benefit (DNCB) for carers, and the Council on the Ageing (COTA) (NSW) successfully applied for a grant to explore care given by family and friends to the frail-aged and those with a disability. Although Carers Australia didn’t exist as it does today, these events were significant milestones on the road to forming the influential and authoritative organisation that is now Carers Australia.
Another significant milestone occurred in 1980 when – in what is believed to be a world-first – the Carers Association of NSW became an independent carer advocacy body.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics during the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981 conducted the first comprehensive survey on disability. The Survey of Handicapped Persons gave governments and the community a deeper understanding and insight into the numbers and experiences of those Australians living with a disability.
Since those early days, research into caring has gone from strength to strength, and government funding and programs have followed. Social Security benefits for carers were introduced, programs were established and recognition of carers grew.
1990s & Early 2000s
The first Carers Awareness Week was held in 1992, subtitled Carers Need Care Too! The week-long campaign was the first of its kind to raise public awareness of the important and challenging work of carers. This was followed by the first carer-focused federal budget, worth $93 million over 4 years and included both the distribution of the Carer Support Kit and introduction of the National Respite for Carers Program.
In 1993 the Carers Association of Australia (CAA) was launched, and in 1997 the Governor-General, His Excellency Sir William Dean, AC KBE, agreed to be National Patron of CAA. Since then, all Governors-General have accepted this role. CAA changed its name to Carers Australia in 2001.
The following decade saw the number of conferences, campaigns, research, surveys and reports increase, demonstrating that the work of Carers Australia and the state and territory Carers Associations was having an effect. Awareness was growing. Governments were taking notice.
During this period, young carers were identified as an important sub-group of carers.
2005 to Present
The official launch of the first Parliamentary Friends of Carers at Parliament House was held in March 2007, with Senator Grant Chapman and Anna Burke MP co-chairing the group. In 2010 The Rudd Government’s social inclusion agenda identified carers under the six “Social Inclusion Priorities” and recognised young carers as “at risk of long-term disadvantage”. In the same year, legislative changes to the Fair Work Bill granted parents of children with a disability under the age of 16 the right to request flexible work arrangements.
Whether as active advocates or lobbyists, or indirectly through contacts, awareness campaigns and support for carers themselves, Carers Australia in its current and previous forms has played a role in these and many other developments on the journey to improving the lives of carers, and we continue to do so.