If there was a group of Australians who contribute $40 million in unpaid labour to the economy you might expect to see national recognition for their selfless contributions.
If so the winners are … Australia’s unpaid carers!
All 2.7 million of them. In fact 12% of all working Australians are carers.
Carers, in this case, are people who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail aged.
In NSW alone there are around 857,000 carers. While not all people with disability have a carer, informal care is the main source of support.
Carers and the NDIS
Carers are not the focus of the NDIS, however they will be expected to provide ongoing informal support for many participants.
Already in the Hunter trial site carers are seeing flow on benefits, including the ability to return to work, reduced stress and less financial pressure;
However a Carers NSW report from the Hunter trial site shows carers are needing help to navigate and understand the new system.
The report shows carers are having challenges getting consistent information about the NDIS and their role within it and other important information like the rollout timetable.
The NDIS now recognises the role of carers and the reasonable supports needed to help them keep doing their vital work. Importantly, respite – an issue close to all carer’s hearts – is now available under the NDIS.
The Carers NSW report provides valuable first hand info about the NDIS at work from a carers perspective and can be read here
Carers are represented nationally by the group Carers Australia and their annual report for 2013-14 is now available.