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Victoria releases carer strategy, details next steps

The peak body for dementia in Australia has commended the Victorian government on its recently released carer strategy.

The Victorian carer strategy 2018-22 sets out five priority areas: that carers are healthy and well; engaged in education, employment and community; can access respite and other supports they need when they want them; have less financial stress; and are recognised, acknowledged and respected.

In her foreword for the strategy, parliamentary secretary for carers and volunteers Gabrielle Williams said the Victorian government hopes to address stereotypes about carers, acknowledge their hidden efforts and improve support.

“We want to better acknowledge and appreciate the unique and valuable insights carers have into the needs of the person they care for,” Williams said.

She added the strategy also focuses on carer health and wellbeing, acknowledging they often don’t have the time, energy or opportunity to take care of themselves. “We want their physical and mental health – and their connections to family, friends, local communities – to be better supported, as well as connections to other carers for peer support.”

Dementia Australia’s executive director of consumer engagement policy, Dr Kaele Stokes, said carers provide support for the more than 107,000 Victorians currently living with dementia.

Stokes said the report recognises the difficulties that people face as they care for someone with dementia from diagnosis to end-of-life. “It is vital that the government and community recognises these challenges and provides appropriate support to our carers.”

Stokes acknowledged the state government’s ongoing commitment to services like respite for carers but added that they, along with people living with dementia and families, still note the need for further investment in services aimed particularly at individuals who care for people living with dementia.

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