Published on 21 January 2023

MEDIA RELEASE: Unpaid carers hit hard by increases in cost-of-living

Carers Victoria is calling on the Andrews Government to reset the system for unpaid carers, with the carer population expected to jump to one million by 2026.

The cost-of-living increase for everyone has been difficult to manage, but perhaps for one group, no more strikingly than for carers.

More than half (50.2%) of carers live in a household in the lowest two income groups, compared with only a quarter (25.6%) of non-carers.

The National Carer Survey indicates that more than half (51%) of all carers said they had difficulty covering one or more of their essential expenses or seeking help to meet their basic expenses.

Compared with a 2020 Survey, more carers have had difficulty paying their rent, mortgage, or energy bills on time, have sold their personal goods to fund expenses, or, concerningly, have gone without meals to save money.1

Judith Abbott, the CEO of Carers Victoria says, “Covid-19 and lockdown was difficult for all of us, but for a carer, who may be already at a significant financial disadvantage, the reverberations of that time have carried over and often intensified in the post-Covid world.”

Judith continues, “We’re looking to the future with a new Victorian Carer Strategy, supported by substantial investment, that will allow the Government to deliver on its central election commitment and is an unmissable opportunity to put carers at the heart of a long-term policy.”

While the new Strategy will shape long term policy and funding priorities, Carers Victoria is calling for investment now in services proven to make a difference for carers.

Expanding the Victorian Government Support for Carers Program now is essential to meet this growing need.

One recommendation from Carers Victoria is a state funded one-off voucher linked to the Victorian Carer Card that will ultimately help carers pay for their essentials and make ends meet.

Judith expands, “There is also a great initiative being recommended to government that would enable a second carer to receive a Carers Card, therefore lightening the load from a financial benefit position but also to ensuring that the caring role is shared more equitably between a person’s carers.”

Our State must act now to relieve the demands and increase the joys of caring.

Investment in Carers Victoria’s proposals will help the re-elected Labour Government continue its commitment to equity and ensure no Victorian carer is left behind.

1. Comparison between respondents to the 2022 and 2020 iterations of the National Carer Survey.

About Carers Australia and the National Carer Network

Carers Australia is the national peak body representing Australia’s carers, advocating to influence policies and services at a national level. The National Carer Network, which consists of Carers NSW, Carers ACT, Carers Victoria, Carers Tasmania, Carers SA, Carers WA, Carers NT, and Carers Queensland, deliver a range of essential carer services across states and territories.

About carers

Carers Australia uses the term ‘carer(s)’ as defined by the Commonwealth Carer Recognition Act 2010. The term should not be used loosely and without context to describe a paid care worker, volunteer, foster carer, or a family member or friend who is not a carer.

An informal, unpaid carer is a family member or friend that cares for someone who has a disability, chronic or life-limiting illness, is frail aged, has a mental illness, alcohol or other drug related condition. Informal carers are distinct from paid support workers who are colloquially also called carers but are under a contract of employment with remuneration all and other benefits of employment. Conversely, family and friend carers perform their caring duties without remuneration.