From small beginnings in 1993, Carers Australia has evolved into a highly effective and well recognised national peak body. Carers Australia advocates on behalf of Australia’s carers to influence policies and services at a national level and works collaboratively with partners and member organisations, the Network of state and territory carers associations, to deliver a range of essential national carer supports and services.
Research and advocacy work on behalf of carers started back in the early 1970’s. In 1973 the Domiciliary Nursing Care benefit was introduced and in 1974 the Council of the Ageing (COTA) successfully applied for a grant to explore the extent of care given by family and friends to the aged and to those with a disability. The result was the publication of “Dedication” a report written by Clare Grant Stevenson based on a survey of 427 carers living in Sydney. In 1975 Ms Grant Stevenson established a carers group as a subcommittee of COTA.
In 1980, the Carers Association of New South Wales became an independent body, gaining more freedom in its advocacy work and paving the way for the Network of state and territory carers associations. Carers associations were established across the country working to deliver carer supports and services and to raise awareness and recognition of carers in the community.
In 1993 Carers Australia was established as the national peak body for carers.
Since then, Carers Australia has worked to have carers’ needs brought to the attention of government and the community more broadly; to achieve greater recognition for the valuable contribution carers make to the lives of those people in our community who have a disability, a chronic illness or who are frail aged.
We at Carers Australia have been heartened by the significant gains in recent years. We have been especially encouraged by the increased awareness of, and recognition given to, carers across the community and particularly within government. There is now carer recognition legislation at the federal level and in most states and territories, and in 2011 the Australian Government released the National Carer Strategy, followed by the release of the Strategy’s Implementation Plan in 2012.
Further to these milestones, in recent years many carer issues have been given attention in key areas of social policy at the national level, such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (now DisabilityCare Australia) and in mental health and aged care reform.
Increased awareness and recognition of carers has also been evident in the community more generally. We see more carer stories or references to carers in the media and we come across more information prepared for carers, for example in GP’s surgeries or at local libraries.
Carers Australia has worked to map the pathway forward for the coming years. In 2012 we released our Strategic Plan 2012 – 2015. This Strategic Plan represents a renewed commitment to tackling the issues faced by Australia’s carers and to building a better Australia in which carers can live, work, socialise and care.
This strategic direction will be achieved by seeking to engage more fully with carers and with members of the Network of state and territory carers associations. We particularly recognise the need to engage with young people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. We intend to deepen our engagement with our stakeholders, donors, sponsors, supporters, government business and other like‑minded organisations.
In this our 20th Anniversary year, we wish to thank all those who have engaged with us and supported us on our journey, helping us to become the organisation we are today.