Reflecting on National Carers Week 2017 I have been wondering what has changed for carers in South Australian communities. Before I get to that I need to be really clear that I am talking about unpaid family carers, someone who is caring for a loved one and isn’t being paid. This confusion about who we provide services for hasn’t changed over time and may never.

Our recent survey of 1688 South Australian carers tells us that unfortunately carer’s health and wellbeing is getting worse with a third reporting that they have poor or very poor health. This is undoubtedly a consequence of nearly 90 percent of carers who responded confirming they put the needs of the person they care for before their own.

We also know that carers struggle financially, this hasn’t changed with carers often having to work part time or give up completely because the caring role consumes them. 30 percent of carers said they are worse off financially than last year and staggeringly just under 50 percent have an annual household income of less than $40k.

The NDIS is a change for everyone and only 21 percent of carers who responded are confident about being ready for pre-planning, something which would sound familiar to every worker in the community sector. Not surprisingly we are supporting carers through this process and many community organisations are doing the same.

Carers are the safety net of our community, even when systems and supports for people are operating well, carers need to be there. I know that carers will continue to be a vital cog in our community and we will only see this increase with our ageing population. Currently across Australia if you replaced carers with paid workers it would cost the country $60.3 billion…..staggering numbers that again will only increase.

One thing that will not change, and I am extremely confident about this. You will either be a carer, or you will be cared for by a loved one, at some point in your life. I have done it already and I can tell you, as will every carer, you do it no matter what the costs simply because it is what you do for people you love.

If your reading this and the penny drops that you are a carer or someone you know is a carer you can get support by phoning Carers SA’s advisory line 1800 242 636.

David Militz- CEO Carers SA