National Carers Week is a national recognition and celebration of the 2.65 million Australians who provide care and support to family and loved ones. In 2023, National Carers Week (15-21 October) is seeing a renewed focus on raising awareness of the unique issues faced by carers and the support needed to ensure their ongoing wellbeing.
National Carers Week is an initiative of Carers Australia, funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services, and coordinated by the National Carer Network. Their most recent Carer’s Wellbeing Survey found that access to support and a strong network is essential for unpaid carers, allowing them to provide meaningful and effective care to those who need it.
Representatives from Carers Australia appeared before the inquiry into the recognition of unpaid carers yesterday (17 October), to advise on how carers can be better recognised, respected, supported and have their rights protected.
New surveys reveal more about the experience of carers
Dementia Australia has conducted their own survey into how unpaid carers balance work and caring responsibilities. They found that 80 per cent of respondents caring for a loved one living with dementia have made some form of change to their employment as a result of their caring responsibilities. Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe AM said the results of the survey highlights the need for carers to be recognised and supported.
“There are more than 400,000 Australians living with dementia and the network of unpaid carers is invaluable to ensuring people living with dementia can maintain their quality of life. While many carers tell us it can be a rewarding experience, it can also come with many challenges that change over time. That is why it is so important for carers to seek support and know that we are here for them no matter their situation.”
“I encourage all carers to call the National Dementia Helpline at any time of the day or night, on 1800 100 500. We support everyone impacted by dementia or mild cognitive impairment, everywhere across Australia, and can direct carers to life-changing support.”
UNSW’s Centre for Social Research in Health has also explored another often-overlooked aspect of caring: the experience of carers who transition out of caring roles. The average carer provides care for 12 years, and for many, transitioning out of caring is financially, socially and personally challenging.
Existing policy, services, and entitlements tend to focus on current carers, and often don’t include those ‘post-caregiving’. The number of carers facing precarious and uncertain futures after their caring ends will dramatically increase in coming years with demand for informal carers estimated to be 16 per cent greater than supply by 2030.
“There is an urgent need to recognise the ways in which transitions out of caring are experienced to understand how to better support and prepare carers for life beyond caring,” says Scientia Associate Professor Emma Kirby from UNSW.
Tips for supporting carers
Carers Australia suggests several small steps you can take to ensure that the carers in your life are supported and enabled to provide the best care possible while maintaining their own wellbeing.
- Check in regularly: Reach out, in person or by phone, and ask how the person providing care is doing.
- Offer a break: Where it is safe and possible to do so, offer the carer some respite. Everybody needs a break sometimes!
- Acknowledge and appreciate: Take any opportunity you can to show a carer that you recognise the great work they do. It could be a small gift, a card, or even just a pat on the back.
- Initiate support: If you see a carer is struggling, take the action needed to connect them to support.
- Encourage self-care: Offer to help with self-care for carers, like groceries and meal prep, cleaning, and time-out to relax.
Buildings and monuments across Australia’s states and territories will shine blue throughout National Carers Week this year, celebrating all unpaid carers and drawing attention to the support and recognition they deserve.
Where carers can find support
Carer Gateway provides information and advice on the supports available to carers across Australia, and has a great range of online resources to help promote carer wellbeing. To find out more, and to access online support services, head to the Carer Gateway website.
Our founder, Julie Jones, talks about her experiences caring and using the Carer Gateway on YouTube.