Carers SA has a long and strong history of representing the needs of carers within South Australia. This commitment is firmly embedded within our Strategic Plan for 2016-2018 in which a key area of focus is raising the voice of carers and ensuring they are heard within government, community, disability and aged care sectors.
This is particularly relevant in light of recent reforms such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme and My Aged Care. Although these reforms recognise carers, the major focus is upon the person being cared for, which increases the chance of carers being overlooked. Raising the voice of carers within the political arena is also essential to inform members of the important role carers play leading up to the state election in March 2018.
Unpaid carers are significant in the effective delivery of services to the person being cared for, the wellbeing of families, and for providing a safety net for society thus reducing reliance on crisis services. It is therefore both financially and socially beneficial that the voice of carers is recognised and that carer needs are well supported.
Of course having words on paper achieves nothing unless real action is taken. Carers SA is continuously and actively listening to the voice of carers via our Board Members, Advisory Groups, Carer Surveys and at grass roots level within regional carer support activities.
Our regional and metropolitan carer support teams are also dedicated to ensuring the Carers SA strategic plan comes to life within their service delivery areas.
To demonstrate this Carers SA recently initiated a series of “Carer Forums” to raise the voices of carers and ensure they are heard across the sector. These Carer forums will occur within all of our service delivery regions including Eyre Peninsula, Northern Country, North Western Metro, River Murray Mallee, Southern Fleurieu and the Limestone Coast.
Carer Forums bring carers together with service providers to share information and to voice issues affecting carers within a facilitated discussion forum exercise.
A total of 57 carers and 24 service provider organisations have attended Carer Forums to date in Port Lincoln, Port Augusta and North Western Metro suburbs, with other regions holding forums from August to October.Carers voiced issues affecting them across a number of themes including:
- Increased use of technology to register and access support: IT literacy levels, cost of maintaining up to date IT equipment, cost and quality of mobile and internet services, Increased time taken to communicate electronically, lack of face to face options available.
- Navigating new services: deciphering influx of information, difficulty managing number of services to engage with, lack of advocacy services to assist when having difficulty, less interagency sharing to provide holistic services, increased difficulty accessing support in an emergency.
- Social Isolation and Transport: Lack of public transport services, less transport provided by service providers, trend away from face to face contact, accessible services for working carers.
This represents just a snapshot of carers’ voices within the forums however there are many more voices and topics to be heard throughout our ongoing consultations with carers. We welcome contact from service providers, politicians and industry leaders who wish to join us in ensuring the voice of carers is heard and acknowledged within the changing landscape of service provision.
Acting Program Manager Community Services