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Unpaid carers worth $60.3 billion a year

If the care provided by family members and friends of people who are aged, chronically ill or have a disability were provided by paid carers, the estimated cost would total $60.3 billion this year alone.

That’s one finding of the Deloitte Access Economics Report, The Economic Value of Informal Care in Australia in 2015, released by Carers Australia. It also found 1-in-8 Australians are providing informal care and demand for carers is doubling supply in some areas.

The report points to modelling that shows that by 2025, only 42 per cent of people with a severe disability aged over 65 and not living in residential care will have access to an unpaid family or friend carer.

Unpaid carer Helen Johnson, who started caring for her son more than 21 years ago, said services and supports provided to carers by federal and state governments have improved, but more needs to be done. “The value in reports like this one is that they bring the amazing value that unpaid carers provide to the country into sharp focus,” she said.

Chief executive of Carers Australia Ara Cresswell told a launch event in Canberra’s Parliament House that carers do a lot of heavy lifting that often goes unrecognised. “In fact, the report values the provision of informal care in Australia at more than a billion dollars a week,” she said.

The report proposes a number of policy options to address the burden on carers and improve support services, including greater flexibility in working arrangements, employment preferences and improved access to carer support services, such as respite care. It also suggests adapting the formal-care sector to better meet the needs of older Australians from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

“This report allows Carers Australia to quantify the true value of carers to the community while highlighting areas that require focused attention,” Cresswell said. “We are pleased to be working with the government to develop detailed and robust carer policies for the future.”

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