Unpaid carer burdens laid bare in parliament

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Tax breaks, better access to respite and prioritised wellbeing are among the recommendations found in an inquiry into the recognition of unpaid carers.

This article was originally published by our friends at The Senior.

It was brought to federal parliament on Wednesday, March 27 by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, which looked at the the challenges faced by unpaid carers and options for reforming the Carer Recognition Act 2010.

The report’s release follows news about how unpaid carers are burnt out and the financial burden they’re placed under.

Addressing the financial disadvantages carers experience over their lifetime was an issue raised. Among the solutions proposed included supporting flexible work arrangements, introducing an income tax credit for carers returning to the paid workforce, and finding ways to offset the financial impacts of caring through the income tax and superannuation systems.

Better access to support, for example respite options and counselling through the Carer Gateway was also suggested.

Carers’ health and wellbeing also needs to be prioritised, plus give targeted support for First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse carers, through the new National Carer Strategy.

Government departments aren’t off the hook; there was also a call for stronger obligations to be made on public service agencies to “reflect the principles of the Act”.

A total of 22 recommendations were made.

Committee chair Ms Susan Templeman MP, said: “despite the best of intentions, the Act has not encouraged a cultural change in how public service agencies and their associated providers interact with and support carers. This is because the Act is unenforceable, contains weak and vague statements without clear calls to action, and relies on a voluntary and inconsistent reporting system with little oversight or accountability.”

“It is critical that carers have the right to be acknowledged as partners in care, to be involved in planning and policy development, to be provided with information regarding the person they care for in order to provide care, and to be able to access flexible work arrangements.”

The full report can be found at aph.gov.au and search for “Recognising, valuing and supporting unpaid carers“.

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  1. I am a full time carer for my 91 year old mum I get a carers pension which doesn’t go far mum is a level 4 aged care lady but somehow the govt has cut funds to her package leaving me with no respite funds at all in fact somehow I’m in debit my service provider is homemade but they do not seem to help or explain my situation

  2. This was a question I asked my local Doctor just last week.

    I will put it in point form –

    – Left my Job to care for my much beloved Mother, Believing I would return to work at a later date.

    After 3 years I sold my Dream Home and returned Home to continue caring for my mother, over 1000 km,s away.

    – At that time my mother was only expected to live 3 weeks maximum.

    – Gosh the Doctor totally underestimated my late mother will to life a full life till age. 94 years young, together we were aiming for the big 100 and a letter from the Queen or now King. Sadly my mother got to see this happen so now that’s my Goal in life to live past 100 years young !

    – Fast forward and 28 years later my much beloved mother passed away very unexpectedly and very sudden late one night, I was sitting at her bedside holding her hand and taking to her while I could not stop the Tears from Flowing.

    – No other Family member would assist, they did not even Visit.

    – l had No idea what one Hell off a ride I was in for, from experiencing Lack off income ,Emotions I had never ever felt before, being available as a solo Carer 24/7, lack off friends who just did not understand and I felt very alone.

    – May 2024 is the First Year off my late mothers passing.

    – I know in my Heart I did the very best I could.

    – l am Donating a Beautiful Bench Seat up at our
    Local Cemetery in my late parents Horner, A place I can go and reflect back on the good times and the sad times.

    – l did not know I had the strength in myself to achieve such an out come.

    – For a person considering becoming a carer, please seek out help and supports immediately as Carer Burn Out happens very quickly and then you feel trapped in a situation and it’s Dam hard while being so Rewarding.

    – As tuff as my Carers Roll was, the positives out waved the negatives.

    – In sharing part of my experience will assist someone out there who feels lost and along as a Carer, please speak up and ask for help.

    – l would welcome a chance to speak in parliament for all Carers.
    As we do not get paid enough, No Superannuation to look forward too in retirement and the list goes on, etc

    – Hopefully by sharing part of my experience will help another Carer out there who feels lost and forgotten in the current circumstances…

    Best of Luck


    1. Hi Steve – You are an amazing human being. I really don’t know how you have achieved so much. I hope you do get to speak in parliament for the cause as you are a great communicator
      I related to your words and sentiments totally. I am a carer for my husband for 20yrs + and sometimes I dread waking up in the mornings. The physical stuff is difficult,and the 24/7 mental responsibility is overwhelming at times. And people who have no idea of the caring role give you advice and sometimes criticism. And totally hurtful comments – ‘Whats the problem – you signed up for this. (Nobody signs up for this – it is a role that you undertake because of your love and compassion. )

  3. I sympathise Nychelle, I have faced dementia in my spouse now for 12 years and heard the comment “you signed up to this” I guess I did when I said “I do” but one does not expect this to happen. There are people out there who have been where we tread and offer good advice, thank goodness for carers support. How deep do we go with outside assistance especially when a spouse only wants you.

  4. To Those who have Replyed and To Those who will Reach Out and Reply…

    I found myself thinking last night , is it harder to be Carer for a Parent or is it much harder being the Carer of your spouse…?

    Both are a 24/7 Unconditional Space of Love and non-Stop Caring Roll.

    This weekend my late mothers sister, my Aunty asked if I would become her Carer and she would come and live with myself in my own home.

    Part of me saids Yes, But from my own personal experience this time I will have to say NO and help her find a suitable Retirement Home.

    To say NO fills my Heart with pain as my Aunty has always been like a second mother to myself.

    I will have to meet her later this week and explain why my answer is NO.

    A Retirement village is a safe place for her and a rotation off staff to cope with the daily demands, I can visit, take her out n about and return her home to a safe location knowing I have done my best and now it’s time to sleep.

    There is a lot of family pressure for myself to become the Solo Carer….

    I am not getting any younger, while I am not married I do have My Own Children to Complete their Studdies/degrees etc and it all costs a Hell of a lot of money.

    I once owned a very successful Bussiness but that all ended once I became a Solo Carer.

    I even had my own Hoilday Home/ Beach Shack, which I did work very hard for but I was young and ambitious back then, my friends used it more than I did because being a solo Carer it is so dam hard to plan time away etc, so I sold it.

    Maybe one day these notes will find their way into a Book to assist others who are struggling with their own journey as a Carer.

    One thing I always tell my Children…

    Always reach Out for Help and Advice early on as it’s a Sign of Strength, Commitment, Determination to be Your Best in life’s Journey and You Will Find a Solution and Remmber its not a sign of weakness.

    Best of luck to everyone, Hope I have helped another person out there to Trust in Yourself as no other person will fully understand Your Roll as Carer.



In Need of Support?

Carer Gateway is an Australian Government program providing free services and support for carers. Call Carer Gateway for support and access to services, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm local time.

Assistance with accessing emergency respite is available any time, 24/7.

1800 422 737 

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