A new hotline and website dedicated to supporting carers has been launched by the Australian Government. Called Carer Gateway, the initiative is intended to provide support, advice and information to the 2.7 million Australians caring for friends and family in the community.
The free call telephone line, 1800 422 737, is contactable between 8am and 6pm on Monday to Friday, and the website, carergateway.gov.au, is accessible 24/7. There is also a facility to request a call back.
The main objectives of the services are to provide practical tips on how to care for particular conditions, how to access respite services, the availability of support groups and how to cope when caring changes or comes to an end.
Ann Nicholas is the clinical lead of Carer Gateway. She said every effort has been made to tailor this service to the different types of carers – young and old, Australian-born and originally from overseas, Indigenous or otherwise – for the broadest possible inclusivity.
“People become carers in many different ways and for many different reasons," Nicholas said. "They can be parents, children, siblings, grandparents or neighbours. They can come from any background. They can live in city or the bush. They can be any age. Every situation is different.
“What’s important is that if you are a carer, you know support is available to help you in your caring role. With so many ‘hidden carers’ in Australia, people could be missing out on accessing important support and services that are available to them."
A hidden carer is someone who doesn't readily identify as a carer, so their caring status is not counted in surveys and censuses. Some hidden carers don't identify because they see it as their primary responsibility rather than a job or duty, because they associate the term 'carer' with paid work or a professional posting, or because the concept doesn't properly translate into cultures where younger generations are expected to look after older family members, among other reasons.
The Carer Gateway is primarily in English but also has information sheets available in Arabic, Croatian, Dutch, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Macedonian, Maltese, Polish, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Serbian, Spanish and Vietnamese.
“Carers take pride in their caring responsibilities and view this as an opportunity to give back to the person they care for. However, their own health and wellbeing can often be neglected and it can be difficult to know where to turn to find the right support”.
One of the key components of the Care Gateway is its Find a Service portal, which can direct users to support providers in their area. The portal qualifies the user by care type and help needed to recommend the best options. This includes counselling (for the carer and/or the loved one), help with meal preparation, early childhood intervention, home modifications and transport assistance.
“Carers make a vital contribution to the health and wellbeing of the people they care for, as well as the broader community. As such, it becomes essential that carers also have the support to take care of themselves," continued Nicholas.
“Accessing the right financial support or support services such as respite care has previously been very confusing. With Carer Gateway, we’re making it quicker and easier for all carers around Australia to find the services and support they need."
- There were 2.7 million carers in Australia in 2012.
- Of these, 28.6% are primary carers – those who provide the most care for an individual.
- The majority (56.1%) of carers are female, and represent more than two thirds (69.7%) of primary carers.
- There are approximately 306,000 carers aged 25 years and under.
- Just over 25% of carers are born overseas.
- Almost 40% of primary carers report spending an average of 40 hours or more per week performing their caring duties.
- The labour force participation rate of carers aged 15 years and over is lower (56.3%) than non-carers (69.3%).
- Of Australia’s 1.9 million “co-resident” carers, 45.5% were the partner of the person they cared for; 20% cared for a parent; 23.4% cared for a child and 4.2% cared for a sibling.
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