Policy and research: key issues you need to know about
Caring families save the Australian community more than $40 billion per year, yet too many carers are in poor health, face financial hardship and social isolation and are not properly supported by services.
We cannot support the current model of caring
As the Australian population ages, we face a number of key dilemmas in relation to caring.
- We need more people to provide care but caring involves economic, social and health costs
- We need more people in the workforce to sustain our economy and support an ageing population
- We need more and better services to support both the people who provide care and the people who need it.
Carers Victoria believes that it is possible to resolve these dilemmas.
- We believe that Australia must take a systemic approach that acknowledges the ways in which policies interact and affect the lives of those caring and those being cared for
- We must make sure that family carers can pursue what they value in terms of combining care work and paid work, and formal and informal caring
- We need policies and systems that give caring families real choice.
Caring needs to be valued and recognised
Caring is common to all families and societies yet, too often, the responsibility falls on individual carers.
- We believe that caring should not carry the financial, health and social risks to individuals that it does today
- We want Australians to see caring as a valued, normal and expected part of life
- We want to find ways in which caring can be shared: between individuals, governments and communities; within families; and between men and women
- We want professionals to work in partnership with family carers, to value their expertise and to acknowledge the extensive support they provide.
Carers need financial security
Carers often experience financial hardship. The responsibilities of caring can make it difficult to remain in full time paid employment and the extra costs relating to care and to disability can be enormous.
Carers need reforms to the income support, taxation and superannuation systems to increase their financial security:
- We want to reform the income support and tax system to make paid work more compatible with caring and to make it easier for carers to move into and out of employment
- We want adequate income support and government funded superannuation for those who provide long term high intensity care and have a limited capacity to participate in paid work
- We want to ensure that those who care have realistic support with care costs.
Carers need flexible workplaces
Many carers of working age find it difficult to balance work and care responsibilities.
In Australia we value the care of young children and a number of government policies help parents to balance work and family responsibilities. We want similar policy reforms to value and support all forms of caring across our lives.
Carers need reforms to workplace regulation to help them to continue to participate in the workforce:
- We want to extend work-life balance reforms, such as the right to request flexible work and the right to unpaid care leave, to all carers
- We want businesses to understand the benefits of supporting carers in the workplace and to help them with carer friendly practices
- We want to support workforce participation with affordable, high quality, alternative care arrangements for older people and people with disabilities
- We want to develop effective training and affirmative action programs to help carers to re-enter the workforce.
Carers need high quality and flexible support services
Every care situation is different. To support caring families, services must match the needs and expectations of those who are providing care and those who are receiving it.
Carers need reforms to the community care system:
- We want services to provide families and individuals with a wide range of options and choices
- We want services to be consistently available, accessible, affordable, flexible and of good quality
- We want to plug the service gaps and to fund increases in the services that carers really need
- We want to invest more in supported accommodation, making sure that people with care needs have access to stable secure housing and helping their families to support them as they move away from family care.