Tuesday, 16 October 2018
National Carers Week
As we all know, this week is National Carers Week. With approximately 2.7 million people providing unpaid care for family and friends in Australia this week, I am pleased to be able to recognise this amazing contribution. The unsung work of carers is not always recognised. A sudden illness, a road accident or injury at work can throw another person into the role of a carer. Carers may also support a loved one living with disability, who is sick, who is elderly or with a mental illness. Every one of us in this building would know someone who is a carer. Consider for one moment the time, effort and value of the contribution carers provide to our nation. Family carers provide around 1.9 billion hours of care each year, with an annual contribution of $60.3 billion per year. Each and every day family carers contribute the equivalent of $165 million to the Australian economy.
In my state of Tasmania, there are 85,500 people who are primary carers. That is a lot for a little state. About 7,600 Tasmanians under the age of 25 are family carers. One such young carer I would like to briefly talk to you about is Jaeyden from Devonport. I've been fortunate enough to get to know Jaeyden over the last few years and have spoken about him in this place before. The sacrifices young people like Jaeyden make deserve recognition. They also deserve greater support. At 19 years of age, Jayden looks after his mother, who has been diagnosed with a heart condition. Besides having the responsibility for looking after his mum's medication, Jaeyden also manages his family's finances and cares for his siblings. He's been his mother's primary carer for five years now and has helped to manage her chronic condition since he was 10 years old. Jaeyden has faced a pretty tough journey caring for his mum. At school when his grades were starting to slip, the teachers thought Jaeyden might be getting involved in drugs or crime. As a result, Jaeyden dropped out of school in grade 8. Jaeyden was constantly told he wouldn't achieve anything because he wasn't attending school, but that has not stopped him. He is currently enrolled part-time at TAFE studying nursing. He has also been the Tasmanian representative on the Australian National Young Carers Action Team, a group of young carers raising awareness.
Carers like Jaeyden, who are contributing so much, need a helping hand. They need support for both planned and emergency respite. This is an issue that this side of the House is very serious about doing better with. They need some support and understanding from our general community about the role they play as carers and their skills and responsibilities that can take them into future employment. I know under the leadership of shadow minister for carers, Senator Carol Brown, Labor is working hard to give carers a better deal. I hope that in National Carers Week government does the same.