‘When autumn darkness falls, what we will remember are the small acts of kindness: a cake, a hug, an invitation to talk, and every single rose. These are all expressions of a nation coming together and caring about its people’.
The following statistics from Carers Australia tell a powerful story:
- There are approximately 2.7 million unpaid carers in Australia. They are the foundation of our aged, disability and community care systems. (ABS 2012 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers)
- An estimated 1.9 billion hours of unpaid care was provided by Australian carers in 2015. The annual cost of replacing this care with formal services is about $60.3 billion. (Deloitte Access Economics 2015)
- 60% of carers are not employed, 37% have a disability of some kind themselves and 15% care for more than one person with a disability, illness or condition. (ABS 2012 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers)
A significant portion of those being cared for has a mental illness. The Department of Health and Aging in Australia estimates that mental health problems will affect more than 20 per cent of the adult population in their lifetime. While every single one of us needs someone who cares—especially when we are unwell—not all of us will become ill enough to need a carer. Even so, there are countless people across the country who struggle daily with the demands of caring for someone with a mental illness.
Carers Australia says there is a need for multiple service responses to meet the diverse needs of carers including peer support, counselling, respite, education and assistance to navigate ‘the system’.
While the statistics tell a powerful story, no one can really know what it is like to be a carer unless they have lived it. Taking the time to hear the stories of carers allows us to walk in their shoes at least a little, and helps us gather the collective momentum needed to bring about change.
This month we take our hat off to all carers, and hope that the love, tolerance and kindness you give to others are radiated back to you this Christmas.