Alex Dalland

They are over 20 per cent less likely to be in the workforce, and they make 42 per cent less money per week on average than the rest of Australia. But primary carers provide a service that if paid would be worth almost as much as Australia’s main industries.

Data from aged care provider Feros Care values the work of Australia’s 2.7 million unpaid care providers at more than 60 billion dollars, if the role were provided by paid carers.

With National Carers Week beginning on October 16, Feros Care CEO Jennene Buckley believes Australians should reach out to primary carers they know and see what they can do to help.

“Nearly half of all unpaid carers are supporting their partner, while a further 20 percent are caring for a parent,” Buckley says.

“These statistics indicate that the bulk of people needing care are seniors, and are being cared for by their husbands and wives. In addition, there’s 20 percent of adult children – who are presumably part of the sandwich generation – juggling work, raising a family and caring for ageing parents.”

In reality, many carers often need care themselves – with data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that nearly 38 per cent of primary carers reported having a disability themselves, compared to just one in six people among the rest of the population.

“Almost one in five Australians, or 4.3 million people, were living with disability in 2015. This represents 18.3 per cent of the population,” ABS Program Manager of Health and Disability Statistics, Justine Boland, said in a recent statement on the figures.

“The reality is that carers often overlook the importance of self care because they’re busy looking after others. Considering the average carer spends around 40 hours per week (which in 2015 was equivalent to 1.9 billion hours of unpaid care), there is a real concern that without some respite, they can and will burn out,” Buckley adds.

The message of this National Carers Week, according to Carers Australia CEO Ara Cresswell, is to let carers across Australia know the value of their work.

“This National Carers Week we’re asking all Australians to let carers know they count by saying thanks to them for all they do, and to show their support for a carer-friendly Australia,” Cresswell says.

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