Unpaid Carers: Australia’s Invisible Heroes
Carers are the massive yet well-hidden pillars holding up Australia’s healthcare system without us noticing.
Unknown to most Australians, carers contribute massively to the country. Their services are worth more than $60.3 billion each year, according to a 2015 report launched in Parliament.
That’s 3.8% of our GDP being provided by noble, everyday volunteers.
This means that if carers decide to stop what they’re doing right now, it would cost the country more than $1 billion each week. They provide this invaluable service despite often flying below the radar of most Australians.
For National Carers Week 2015, Carers Australia is calling on all Australians to take a break and be aware of who the carers are among them.
If you think you don’t know any, think again. Because of Australia’s ageing population, there’s an extremely good chance that someone close to you is either a carer themselves or is in need of one.
So what are carers and what do they do?
Personal and aged care services aren’t exclusive to formal or registered community centres and residential homes for the elderly.
Similar services can be provided in an informal setting by everyday people called carers.
Carers support their relatives, friends or other people in their community who need assistance at no cost. These may be their elderly family members, neighbors with a physical or mental disability or relatives who have a chronic condition or terminal illness.
Because of their unpaid services, carers are essential drivers of the aged, disability and community care industry. Health care systems would be stretched thin by the demand of our ageing population without their valuable contribution.
How many carers are in Australia today?
There are more than 2.7 million unpaid care givers in Australia. That’s 12% of our entire population, a staggering number given how little attention they’re given.
This means that for every 8 people you meet, there’s a good chance one of them is a carer. If you’re not a carer yourself, then there’s likely someone around you who is.
Why are carers needed?
Amazingly, even more personal carers, support workers and aged care providers are going to be needed in the coming years.
Demand for elderly, disability and personal care is rapidly rising and it is expected to far outpace the supply of carers in the country during the next 10 years.
This is because our ageing trend in Australia’s population is putting a great deal of pressure on the health care system.
When the year 2056 rolls around, almost 1 in 4 Australians will already be above the age of 65 years. As the number of Australians who reach this senior age rises so will demand for personal and medical assistance.
If you are or have been a carer in the past, you can use the skills you’ve learned to take advantage of this demand and pursue a professional career. Through formal aged care courses, you can apply for job roles that are expected to rise in demand including Aged Carers, Residential or Community Carers and Individual Support Workers.
National Carers Week 2015 Events and Activities
You don’t have to be a carer to help and get involved in National Carers Week.
Unpaid carers frequently have hectic days juggling their home and work responsibilities. You can lend a hand by taking a break, acknowledging the carers around you and highlighting their everyday efforts.
For 2015, you can also join in the following events or even organise your own activity to spread awareness about carers in your area:
Events in Australian Capital Territory (ACT):
Canberra Cares Fair, 10 October 2015 in Holt
Events in Queensland (QLD):
Cinema Outing for Young Carers: Movie Viewing of “Pan”,10 October 2015 in Brisbane
Events in Tasmania (TAS):
Concert for Carers by the Tasmanian Symphony, 5 October 2015 in Hobart
Events in Victoria (VIC):
The Carers Project: A Sanctuary in the City, 6 October 2015 in Melbourne
Events in New South Wales (NSW):
Morning Tea at Kempsey Gardens, 9 October 2015 in Kempsey
Events in South Australia (SA):
Port River Cruise, 12 October 2015 in Port Adelaide
National Carers Week runs from 11-17 October 2015. For a complete list of events across all states and territories visit www.carersweek.com.au.
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