‘A worthy life’

The unique and important contribution made by Australia’s 2.6 million unpaid carers has been celebrated during Carers Week.

Almost half of Australia’s primary carers are simply unable to combine paid work with their caring role. For those relying on the Carer Payment, restrictions on the number of hours they can work or study to supplement that income prevents many from seeking work at all.

That’s according to Ara Cresswell, the chief executive of Carers Australia, speaking on Monday at the launch of Carers Week.

Cresswell said it was 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 Cresswell.

She said 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.

NDIS ‘too important’ to fail, says Abbott

Speaking at the launch of Carers Week at the National Press Club on Monday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said there would be lessons to be learned from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) trials and launches underway, which the government would incorporate into the final design when it becomes fully operational in 2019.

“But I do want to assure everyone that we will make this work. This is too important for our country to fail this test. It is, nevertheless, a vast undertaking; an undertaking almost unprecedented in the life of our country,” he said.

Abbott said that for many carers, there were times of “intense difficulty and intense frustration.”

“It is no wonder, under these circumstances, that there is such a high family breakdown rate for carers, such high rates of mental health issues, poor incomes. It is a great life, but it’s a tough life. It is a worthy life, but it is a difficult choice that the carers of this country have made,” he said.

During the launch, the Prime Minister also presented a cheque for $762,000 to Carers Australia, representing the fundraising total from Pollie Pedal 2013.

Glenda’s 35 years of dedication

Glenda has been caring  for her husband Neville since 1978
Glenda has been caring for her husband Neville since 1978

For Glenda Coombe, being a carer is never a chore, it is something she does with love and it has become a large part of her life.

Glenda is 91 and has been caring for her husband Neville, 96, since 1978. The couple are customers of ACH Group.

“Neville is a war veteran but his years serving have debilitated his health. My mother was a carer for my father, so from an early age I knew what being a carer involved and I was happy to step in,” said Glenda.

“When you are a carer, you need to dedicate time to someone else, which sometimes means you don’t have time to do things for yourself but that doesn’t bother me.

“Neville and I are still active. I still do the cooking, we go to church every week and we participate in a craft and fellowship group in the area, which I used to run until last year. Neville is also involved with the Legacy and we catch up with our children often.”

Even with responsibilities as a carer, wife, mother of four and grandmother of two, Glenda found time to write a few books, one of them being a celebration of her 60-year marriage with Neville.

“I have always been interested in writing and recently I have been able to fulfil my passion by writing several books, mostly about the family history,” Glenda explained.

“One of the books is particularly special as I wrote about my story with Neville, to celebrate our 60 years together and we made copies for the family.”

 

Tags: ach-group, ara cresswell, carers, carers-australia, carers-week, ndis, tony-abbott,

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