This National Carers Week, Carers Australia wants people to know what it means to be a carer. Under the Australian Carer Recognition Act 2010, a carer is someone who provides unpaid personal care, support and assistance to another person who needs it because of a disability, medical condition, mental illness, or old-age-related frailty. Carers support family members, friends or persons in the community.
Did you know around 1 in 10 people in Australia are carers? There were around 2.65 million carers when Australian carers were last estimated in 2018, which has no doubt increased during the pandemic. Carers Australia believes the true number of carers is even higher due to a lack of awareness of, and identification of, carers.
The term carer does not include disability support workers, aged care workers, foster carers or other paid carers as is often referred to in the media. This can lead to difficulties in identifying carers and making sure they can access services targeted to unpaid carers.
“We want the Australian community to be able to recognise those individuals who are carers. That’s the first step to making sure carers get the supports they need,” said Carers Australia CEO Alison Brook. “It would be great to see people asking themselves, ‘who are the carers in my life?’ You might realise that someone close to you is a carer. Perhaps you’re a carer yourself.”
The theme for this year’s National Carers Week is ‘Millions of reasons to care’. Carers are a very diverse group of people, and every carer’s situation is unique: there are millions of reasons someone might become a carer.
Some people are born into care responsibilities, such as children with siblings or parents with illness or disability. Others might choose to become carers, such as someone who decides to take care of an ageing parent or a friend dealing with mental illness or addiction. Many people are thrust suddenly into caring situations when a spouse or family member becomes ill or injured, or when they have a child with disability.
“Anyone can become a carer; it can happen at any time and be months or years of caring. Being able to recognise carers will better equip the Australian community to understand carers’ responsibilities and meet their needs,” said Ms Brook.
This National Carers Week, events will be held all over the country to support, celebrate and advocate for carers from Sunday 16 to Saturday 22 October 2022. There are millions of reasons to care about carers, and millions of ways to get involved in #nationalcarersweek. Find out more at www.carersweek.com.au.