There has been something slightly different about Carers SA’s election campaign this time. Yes, we still asked each party to respond and commit to solving the key issues for carers, which were focused on five themes; carer health and well being, work and care, young carers, carers online and disability and care. However, the difference was that during this election campaign we had access to the evidence of carer need, the feedback of 1688 carers across South Australia.

What do I mean by feedback and how was it used?

During this election, we ensured that we delivered to candidates all of the written feedback that was provided by carers in our ‘2017 Carers Count Survey’. Importantly, it was this information we received from carers that guided the commitments that we asked for. This meant that we had some very solid evidence backing our election campaign. Thank you to all of the carers who contributed to this survey, it was a very important piece of research.

As an organisation we have been very active in the last month, ensuring that a coordinated campaign was run on twitter and Facebook, as well as providing our campaign commitment document and carer survey report to the majority of candidates. We also met face to face with representatives from the Greens, Labour, Liberals, SA Best and the Australian Conservatives. We unfortunately had to cancel a meeting with the Dignity Party but they responded to our request for commitments which was fantastic.

A number of our key commitment issues have been highlighted by a number of other organisations in the not for profit space. These are focussed on cost of living, digital literacy or inclusion and the impact of disability reforms on the community. It is worth taking a look at the report card written by the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) which describes how each party rates, it can be viewed here.

What we heard from the candidates and sitting members during our election campaign is that the majority of them know that carers are important. A great first step. Did they commit to addressing our key priorities for carers? Well, this is a little more complicated and the emergence of SA Best has caused some of this. SA Best, the Greens, SA Conservatives and the Dignity Party all gave, in principle, support for our commitments. Although none of these parties will hold government in their own right, their support is vital in ensuring carers are supported in our community.

All parties and individuals committed to continuing a conversation with Carers SA post the election, albeit with the caveat – if they are voted in. This is an excellent outcome and one we will welcome.

During their current term, Labour, through Minister Bettison, have already committed to fund our work through until 2020. We take this as a strong commitment to continue to work together.

Lyn Woodforde, Carers SA President, and I met with Stephen Wade (Shadow Minister for Health) and Michelle Lensink (Shadow Minister for Human Services) recently and I feel confident if they form government we will have a constructive relationship with them. In particular, trying to ensure state funding for carer services complements the new federal government Integrated Carer Support Service model.

One thing each candidate or sitting member had in common, no matter what party they were with, was that they are very unsure what the election result is going to be. All I can hope is that the 245,000 plus carers in South Australia get out and vote and have their say. Please make sure you do. Carers Count!

David Militz, Carers SA, Chief Executive Officer