Prime Minister launches Carers Week 2013

Posted 14 October 2013 11:57am

The Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott, launched Carers Week at the National Press Club today.

Mr Abbott said, “carers come from every walk of life; every carer’s circumstance is different, but they all dedicate themselves to caring for someone else.

“This is truly a remarkable thing. It is truly a magnanimous thing.

“Not only do carers save our nation billions of dollars, but they are a reminder of our best selves. They are so often inspirational leaders in our community and in our nation.”

The Prime Minister also handed over a cheque for $762,000 to the CEO of Carers Australia, Ara Cresswell, representing the fundraising total from Pollie Pedal 2013.

Ms Cresswell said Carers Australia was delighted to be the nominated charity for Pollie Pedal 2013 and that the funds raised had enabled Carers Australia and the state and territory Carers Associations to build links between carers and their communities through a range of activities, including information expos, health and wellbeing programs, and social networking opportunities.

Also at the launch, Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, formed part of a panel discussion along with Carers Australia CEO, Ara Cresswell, Board Director and carer, Helen Johnson and young carer Jauhari Wright, moderated by ABC journalist Virginia Haussegger.

Helen Johnson and Jauhari Wright each gave a poignant account of their caring role – Jauhari telling of the emotional and academic hurdles he faced as a young carer, and Helen of how she juggles working and caring for her profoundly disabled son.  Helen is only able to work due to her supportive workplace and flexible working arrangements.

Ms Cresswell said, “Many primary carers (46%) are simply unable to combine paid work with their caring role.

“For those carers relying on Carer Payment, restrictions on the number of hours they can work or study to supplement that income prevents many from seeking work at all.

“It is essential that we support those carers who wish to work back into the workforce, maintaining their skills and experience.”

There are 2.6 million carers across Australia who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends with a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue, or who are frail aged.

“This year in Carers Week we want to reach out to all unpaid carers to ensure no-one is falling through the cracks, or feeling that no-one understands what they are going through,” said Ms Cresswell.

“We also want to raise awareness of unpaid carers in the workplace to encourage all employers to offer flexible hours to carers, allowing them to grow, learn and prosper despite the demands on their time and energy as unpaid carers.”

Ms Cresswell says accessing training and education opportunities and being able to work in a flexible and understanding environment goes to the heart of increasing the nation’s productivity.

Assistant Minister for Social Services, Minister Fifield, said, “In workplaces around the nation there are many people who have family caring responsibilities, and we’re encouraging people to take a break at work, to have a morning tea, to acknowledge the work that family carers do.

“Almost every Australian at some point will have some family caring responsibilities.”

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