Every year in October, National Carers Week celebrates the important work undertaken by unpaid carers in Australia, who are caring for a friend or relative with mental health concerns, chronic illness, disability or who are frail aged.
This year, National Carers Week runs from 16-22 October with the theme Millions of Reasons to Care, and CatholicCare’s Carer Gateway services will be celebrating the week, in addition to raising awareness about the highly significant role unpaid carers undertake in our communities.
Did you know there are 2.65 million unpaid carers in Australia? Unpaid carers were formally recognised in law in Australia in 2010 with the Carer Recognition Act. Since then, the Australian Government has contracted with multiple organisations across Australia to deliver services for carers through Carer Gateway. CatholicCare Sydney operates two of these services across Australia; the National Carer Gateway Phone Counselling Service and the Carer Gateway Community Forum as well as managing the Carer Gateway Facebook Page.
Carers are unique; some may care for just a few months or for many years. A carer may provide phone support to a care recipient from another state or territory or may live with a care recipient providing 24/7 care. No matter the caring role, research shows carers experience joy from caring but also experience lowered mental health and wellbeing compared to the community. Carers can also find study and work more difficult due to their caring responsibilities. Carer Gateway services have been designed specifically for carers to reduce stress and anxiety, provide new skills to improve wellbeing and to reduce the isolation many carers describe experiencing.