There are over 2.7 million unpaid carers in Australia and about 904,000 in NSW.
National Carers Week, happening now, is a time to recognise those of us who provide care and support to a family member or friend who is frail aged or living with a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, or an alcohol/drug addiction.
In spite of the importance of their work, carers’ contributions are often invisible. They tend to bear the brunt of physical and psychological stresses, which can become serious problems if not addressed.
Care for the carer
Although many people are happy to play a caring role, in some cases that role is not chosen, but forced upon them, and this can cause resentments and conflict within families, particularly if there are issues with these relationships already.
Carers are a very diverse group, but one thing many have in common is social isolation, and difficulty accessing support, especially for the time-poor.
Carers NSW wants people to know that help is available, in the form of respite, carer counselling, and government financial assistance for carers.
Where to get help?
For people in the Northern Rivers, the Byron Shire Respite Service offers flexible respite, day respite and social support projects, with a person-centred approach in everything they do.
Their website is here, or you can telephone Janine on (02) 6685 1629 or Peter on (02) 6685 1921.
For emergency respite anywhere in Australia there is the Carer Gateway number, which is 1800 422 737. That’s also the number to ring for carer counselling, or you can visit the Carer Gateway website here.
In terms of financial assistance for carers, the Australian Government provides a range of benefits, payments and concessions to eligible carers.
This includes the Carer Payment (for people whose caring responsibilities interfere with their ability to work), and the Carer Allowance, which is an income supplement. Find out more at the Department of Human Services website.
This week, Carers Australia are hoping to amplify the voices of carers by encouraging them to share their stories in 200 words or less here.
They would also like to hear from non-carers with any thoughts about why carers are important in our community.
For information about other events happening around Australia for National Carers Week, go here.