Carers Australia is reaching out to what has been called the nation’s largest unpaid workforce with a campaign to help identify Australia’s army of informal carers and link them to support.
The Embracing Carers initiative, coinciding with National Carers Week from October 14-20, involves a social media campaign, a questionnaire and the launch of a worldwide State of Care Report.
Carers Australia CEO Ara Cresswell says people living in rural Australia face particular difficulties in accessing support services and the campaign hoped to reach carers in these communities.
“A key goal of Embracing Carers is to support the self-identification of carers within Australia. Particularly in rural areas, we want to reassure carers that they are not alone and facilitate awareness of and access to resources,” she said.
She also said healthcare professionals can play a key role in identifying carers and ensuring they knew where to get support.
According to the ABS there were 2.7 million carers in Australia in 2015. Of these, two out of three were women with an average age of 55.
Many carers experience chronic tiredness, back and neck problems, emotional stress, social isolation and financial worries, Carers Australia has found.
Global care report launched
The Global State of Care report, prepared by the International Alliance of Carer Organisations and funded by the multinational drug company Merck, provides a global overview of care conditions and examines what governments in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Spain, the UK and US are doing to support unpaid carers.
It looks at legislation, financial support, work entitlements, opportunities for respite and available information and training.
Merck’s director of market access and government affairs in Australia and New Zealand, Paul Lindsay, said the report showed Australia was doing “very well” in supporting carers, which saved the government some $60 billion a year.
“I think Australia should stand proud on the fact that there are a number of financial services and workplace flexibility arrangements and federal legislation,” he said.
He about about 11 per cent of Australia’s population identified themselves as carers, compared to 20-25 per cent in the US.
“You have to ask … is it because people in those countries identify themselves as carers more readily?” he said.
Drug company gets behind carers
The report is part of a global campaign engineered by Merck, which has established the Embracing Carers brand as “a global movement to recognise the important role of carers in society worldwide”.
The company launched its campaign for the hearts and minds of carers in 2017 after approaching a number of carers organisations around the world, including Carers Australia.
The Embracing Care campaign wasn’t about market access, but supporting carers, Mr Lindsay said.
As a long-standing family company Merck recognised the important role of carers, he told Community Care Review.
“We are a family based organisation and we understand a patient can only get better through the support around them. If we recognise the role that carers play then everyone wins,” he said.
The Global State of Care report will be offically launched at NSW Parliament House by Carers Australia on October 17. You can access it here.