The struggle to support loved ones is a universal issue. It is a financial and human resource challenge that every health care system has in common. Some systems fear change and default into denial. Meanwhile some systems are embracing new ideas and increasing the efficiency of health care through creative innovations.
In Australia, there are 2.6 million carers 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 aging. Through the combined efforts of advocates and open-minded government, Australia is becoming one of the world’s leaders in supporting the precious resource of unpaid care. This week is “Carers Week” in Australia and there are many reasons to celebrate.
The Prime Minister Hon Tony Abbott, launched Carers Week by honouring the value of carers through words and action.
“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.” stated Prime Minister Abbott
To demonstrate these thoughts and feelings through tangible action, the Prime Minister handed over a cheque for $762,000 to the CEO of Carers Australia, Ara Cresswell, representing the fundraising total from Pollie Pedal 2013. This money will go towards the numerous innovative programs that have been developed through the collaborative work of Carers Australia as work directly with the state and territory carers associations to deliver the following services:
Better Start provides an information and registration services about accessing funding and other support services for carers of children with eligible disabilities.
Carer Advisory Service provides information and advice to carers and their families about carer support and services.
National Carer Counselling Program provides short term counselling by qualified counsellors.
Mental Health Carer Counselling provides a specialised counselling service for carers of people with mental health issues.
Young Carers Program provides information, advice and support for young carers.
In Australia, there is also a carers allowance. This innovative program has proven to be tremendously successful. Advocates are continually seeking ways to innovate and ensure that carers are supported in the most effective way possible. CEO of Carers Australia, Ara Cresswell is one of these advocates continually pushing for innovation.
“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 sees supportive programs for unpaid care as support for the entire economy. She says that 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 Fifield for Social Services spoke to the fact that caring for vulnerable loved ones is a reality that we will all be impacted by at some point in our lives. He is encouraging everyone to engage with Australa’s Carers Week.
“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.” said Fifield