Carers and families are an integral part of Australia’s health care system, providing unpaid personal care, support and assistance to people living with mental health issues and disability. Carers have been reported to have the lowest levels of social and emotional wellbeing of any group in Australian society.
The 2010 Carers Recognition Act states that “carers should be acknowledged as individuals with their own needs, within and beyond their caring role”
Evidence shows that there is significant impact on the health and wellbeing of mental health carers, exacerbated by high rates of grief, trauma, stress, depression, anxiety and poor physical health. Carers and family also experience stigma, discrimination and social isolation resulting in the breakdown of relationships and disconnection from family, friends and community.
Over the past six months, the Wellways community advocacy forums have been well attended by carers and family members living in metropolitan, regional and remote areas of Tasmania, Victoria and the ACT. Their attendance at the forums has been to support better services for people living with mental health issues, but also to have their say about the lack of meaningful support for themselves. It is clear that individuals, families and communities are concerned about the uncertainty of carer and family support in this changing landscape.
Carer respite programs are predominately funded by State and Commonwealth government programs. Eligibility and accessibility can vary greatly depending on where you live, and navigating the system to access support can leave carers and family members feeling depleted and hopeless.
It is a great concern to Wellways that the funding for the Department of Social Services Mental Health Respite: Carer Support program (MHR:CS) is being transitioned into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). This scheme does not provide individual support for carers. Mental health carers need to access carer support in their own right. This support should not be dependent on the eligibility of the person they support accessing the NDIS.
Wellways will strongly advocate for continued support for mental health carers in their own right and ask that you join with us and have your voice heard by:
- becoming an advocacy member and campaigning with us for better rights for people living with mental health issues, their families, friends and communities
- watching out for our social media campaign in the coming weeks and sharing your story about how carer support made a difference in your journey
- emailing us and telling us how you would like to be involved