The Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon Tony Abbott MP, was among fifty cyclists who took part in Pollie Pedal 2014. This year Pollie Pedal covered over 1,000kms riding from Moree in northern New South Wales to Penrith in western Sydney via a range of regional towns, including Manilla, Tamworth, Gunnedah, Dubbo, Lithgow and Mudgee. The charity bike ride, in its 17th year, raised over $750,000 for carers.
During the Prime Minister’s absence overseas, Minister for Social Services, The Hon Kevin Andrews MP, led the ride. He was accompanied by Assistant Minister for Employment, Luke Hartsuyker; Member for Hume, Angus Taylor; and Member for Lyne, Dr David Gillespie.
Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, travelled with the riders attending many meetings and engagement events along the way, including meeting with carers and disability organisations. Minister Fifield’s message was how we as a community can better support carers.
Bernadette Duncan from Boggabilla spoke at the start of the ride in Moree. Ms Duncan is a proud member of the Gamilaraay people and until recently cared for her mother after she suffered a series of strokes. Ms Duncan was a recipient of a 2013 NSW Carer Award in recognition of her contribution to caring.
In Dubbo we welcomed the riders after their ride from Gunnedah and heard from Carmel Carolan, who spoke of caring in a regional area for her 45-year old daughter, Maranda, who suffers from Rett Syndrome and who is confined to a wheel chair.
Carmel spoke of how she has cared for Maranda all her life, and how upon being advised that Maranda would need to be placed in a nursing home at 18, Carmel decided to keep her at home where she has remained in the care of her parents for the last 27 years.
The Prime Minister re-joined the ride for the last two stages of Pollie Pedal 2014 – a gruelling 150kms from Mudgee to Lithgow, and the final 50kms from Katoomba to Penrith in the pouring rain – which raised both awareness and a significant amount of money for Australia’s 2.7 million carers.
In our third year of involvement, the generous support provided by Pollie Pedal will enable Carers Australia to continue our work on Work and Care.
Work and Care aims to improve the capacity of carers to combine paid employment with their caring responsibilities, and to assist long-term carers on income support to transition into employment when their caring role has diminished or ceased. These measures will enable carers to become economically engaged, benefitting themselves, their employers and the economy.