About carers

Carers make a valuable and important contribution to our community by supporting people with a need for assistance.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2018 estimates that about 533,200 Queenslanders (1 in 9), or 10.9 per cent of the state’s population indicated they were carers. This includes:

  • parents caring for their child with disability or chronic illness
  • adults caring for other adults—such as someone caring for a frail, elderly person or their spouse or partner; an adult son or daughter caring for elderly parents; or a neighbour providing ongoing support
  • young carers up to 25 years of age caring for or involved in the care of a parent, sibling or relative.

In addition to supporting people with a disability, carers also assist people for a range of other reasons, such as frailty, mental illness or chronic illness or pain.

Grandparents can also be carers where they are the primary caregivers and decision makers for their grandchildren who live with them, assuming a parenting role for a second time.

Carers come from all walks of life and backgrounds, and all parts of the state. Most of us will be a carer at some time in our life.

The contribution of carers

Carers provide ongoing, unpaid care or support for family members or friends who need help with everyday tasks because of frailty, disability, mental illness, chronic or terminal illness. Carers may also support children whose parents are unable to look after them. Importantly, carers have different needs to the people they support.

lnformal care may be a precursor to, take the place of, or complement formal care provided by government or non-government agencies. For a person with a disability, informal care can be ongoing or given for a defined period of time. It may be for a few hours a week or full-time. For grandparent carers, care is often full-time until the child turns 18 and is able to make their own decisions.

It has been estimated that it would cost almost $78 billion a year to replace the contribution of Australia's carers with paid services.

Often carers may have dual caring roles. For example, a person may care for a family member with a disability and also for an older parent. Some carers may provide lifelong care to a child with a disability and then, later in life, become a carer for elderly parents or relatives.

Carers may want to perform a caring role, but may also feel differently about performing this role at times. As a community, we need to support and help carers in the work that they do.

Challenges faced by carers

Carers can face challenges as part of their caring role, including:

  • Education—The nature of the caring role and its associated time constraints mean carers are less likely to participate in education, and are more likely to experience difficulty coping with and completing studies. Young carers in the school system are particularly vulnerable to experiencing challenges with their studies.
  • Employment—Carers have a lower rate of participation in the workforce, especially primary carers who provide the majority of support to a person.
  • Financial—Reduced workforce participation can lead to carers having a lower income, and also experiencing financial difficulties.
  • Social, emotional and physical wellbeing—Primary carers report lower overall life satisfaction, more feelings of fatigue and depression and a diminished sense of overall wellbeing.

People may not always want to reveal their caring role to others. Community attitudes sometimes associated with disability, mental illness and caring may prevent carers from disclosing their caring role. Many carers may also see their caring role as a personal responsibility they have within their extended family and community.