A carer is someone who provides unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, or alcohol or drug issue, or who is frail due to age.
You probably know people who are carers – someone caring for an adult or younger child with additional needs, for a parent, or for their partner or spouse. Carers support daily activities, like dressing or showering, and can also manage the person’s medication or appointments. Usually, they provide emotional and social support too.
According to Carers Australia, there are over 2.65 million carers across Australia, which makes carers around 11% of the population. Most (70%) are women.
Caring and paid work
Many carers combine caring with paid work – whether out of financial need, for social connectedness, or simply because they want to keep working. Juggling paid work and caring work can be difficult. Employers can support carers by offering flexible working arrangements, like adjusted start and finish times.
Juggling caring and employment has been extra challenging during the pandemic, as many of the services offered to people with additional needs have not been available. Many people have needed to find a way to work from home while increasing their hours as an unpaid carer.
Support for carers
The Australian Government has introduced a new website and call centre with practical information and advice for carers. The Carer Gateway website includes information about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), My Aged Care and palliative care.
If you work with carers, you may want to learn more about a new peer-to-peer support model called Weavers.