'The Voice' Blog December 2023

Welcome To The December Edition Of The Voice

In this edition of The Voice, we are marking the success of National Carers Week in October. The week celebrated the dedication of carers across Australia and brought our community together in a spirit of appreciation. Carers Victoria joined hands with numerous organisations to honour carers, highlighting the unity and gratitude that defined the week's events.

Carer support groups across Victoria deserve special recognition for their tremendous efforts during National Carers Week. These groups organised a wide range of events, from morning teas to walks, offering carers essential respite and meaningful connections. Their dedication and passion have created a strong network of support throughout the state, enhancing yours and your care recipients’ well-being.

Let's continue to shine a light on your incredible work, ensuring your voices are heard and your contributions are recognised and supported throughout the year.

As we head into the festive season, it is a time of joy, togetherness and gratitude. While we prepare to celebrate with our loved ones, lets also take a moment to reflect on the amazing work you have accomplished as carers.

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones.



CEO Message

Well, another National Carers Week has come and gone and this year, I was really pleased that Carers Victoria was able to support carer support groups to get together in local venues across the state and take some time out to connect and celebrate each other.

I was reflecting during the week on how it often feels like the narrative around carers is one that centres on the challenges of caring - while that will likely remain important to advocating for positive change, it’s not always something that makes carers positive about what they do. One of the things I like best about National Carers Week is the unique opportunity it provides to make carers more visible across our community and some of the events that provide joy, dare I say fun, and a chance for carers to have some time out in the company of others who get it.

The Too Peas in a Pod webinar we hosted during National Carers Week was a great example of this, with the Too Peas (Kate and Mandy) talking about concepts like self-compassion (rather than self-care) and my personal favourite, the idea of power (rather than comfort) eating – both concepts that, while humorous, reinforced the message that caring will at times really challenge us. We can do this and we are not alone, we are part of a large community of people across the state, whose individual circumstances will differ but who will have some common experiences.

Thank you, carers. The work you do is amazing – and we will keep working hard to provide the advice, assistance, and connections that can support you. And if you know other people in care relationships who are not already connected to Carers Victoria, do encourage them to join us, either via our website or by phoning 1800 514 845 because the more of us there are raising our voice, the more impact we can have.

Carers Victoria is in the midst of finalising its 2024 State Budget submission, and the cost of living impacts for carers will be front and centre in that piece. If you or other carers you know are struggling with such challenges, Carers Victoria may be able to assist you or connect you to services such as financial counselling. Don’t hesitate to contact us on 1800 514 845 or via email.

From the entire team at Carers Victoria, we wish you and yours a happy and safe festive season. Please note that Carers Victoria will close on Friday 22 December 2023 and reopen on Tuesday 2 January 2024. If you or a carer you know needs urgent help over that time, please contact the Carer Gateway on 1800 422 733.

With thanks, Judith


Additional Respite Funding

Carers Victoria is pleased to be one of the recipients of the recently announced Additional Respite grants funding through to June 2025. This will also us not only to provide additional respite in Melbourne's West, but to reach out into rural Victoria - areas where we know carers often experience challenges accessing respite. We will be offering a diverse mix of options to meet varied carers needs across all these locations.

We also want to extend our congratulations to the many other providers who have received funding (full list). Thanks to the Victorian Government for making this funding available through the 2023 State Budget.



Become A Member And Stand A Chance To Win A $500 Voucher

As loyal subscribers of The Voice, we would also love to extend an invitation for you to become a valued member of Carers Victoria.

It is through our growing Carers Victoria member community that you gain access to expert information and advice, funded events, government funded supports and a range of discounts.

Becoming a Carers Victoria member is worth it and it’s free!

As a thank you for becoming a member, which you can easily do by going to www.carersvictoria.org.au/Membership, you can enter a competition to be in the running to win a $500 accommodation voucher supplied by our new partners, Accor Pacific. Our collaboration with Accor will give Carers Victoria the opportunity to take advantage of accommodation discounts in all of Accor hotels around Victoria.

This is just another reason for you to become a member.

Please share this news with fellow carers, so they too can become members and be part of a community that supports and cares for Victorian carers!

You have got to be in it to win it!


Carers Victoria To Hit The Road

Carers LOVE Mingles. But big events aren’t for everyone. Big events also limit us to destinations with bigger venues.

We are therefore trying something a bit different. We’ll still host events with carers in metro and regional areas in the north, south, east, and west each year. However, we will now alternate between a Mingles and other smaller activities. Road trips will be spread across the year, so we can give each location attention.

We will connect more with local partners to really meet the needs of each community, so the programs may look a little different between locations.

Our first road trip will be in February 2024, visiting Bairnsdale, Orbost and Traralgon and in early March 2024 we will be visiting Dandenong and Bentleigh. We will also visit Melbourne’s west, where we will facilitate an advocacy session with carers.

Stay tuned for updates about more road trips.


Are You A Carer Of Someone Living With Dementia?

If so, you may be interested in a new support service to help carers develop skills to help people with dementia stay at home longer, rather than go into permanent care.

The service offers personalised assessment and coaching, along with other supports. 

There are also Dementia Friends Wellbeing Centres in Casey, Hume, and Geelong.

These services are run by Australian Multicultural Community Services but are open to everyone. See the link above for more details.


Connecting With MPs

Connecting with MPs and keeping them updated about what’s happening for carers and what they need is an important part of Carers Victoria’s role. We want carers to be everybody’s business, regardless of who they are, what their political alignment is, or which electorate they represent.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had meetings with both Minister Spence’s office and the Shadow Minister for Carers, Mr Tim Bull, as well as the Greens spokesperson on carers matters, Sam Hibbins MP and the Member for Epping, Bronwyn Halfpenny MP, who attended one of our local National Carers Week events. Our CEO also had the opportunity to connect with the federal member for Aston, Mary Doyle MP, who is a member of the federal standing committee conducting the Inquiry into the recognition of unpaid carers.

There is a lot of understanding and support across the political spectrum for unpaid carers, which is great to see – and we look forward to continuing to build momentum for changes that improve their lives!


New Fuel Discounts for Victorian Government Carer Card Holders

Carers Victoria welcomes the Victorian Government’s news that Victorian Carer Card holders will be able to access fuel discounts through a new partnership with United Petroleum. The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) has announced that from 11 December 2023, Victorian Carer Card holders can register for a digital or plastic United fuel discount card. This will allow them to save 4 cents per litre on fuel at United service stations across Australia.

“At a time when an increasing number of unpaid carers are reporting financial stress, initiatives like this that provide some financial relief are going to be welcomed by eligible carers” said Carers Victoria CEO, Judith Abbott.

It’s also a great time to remind carers that if they live in Victoria and meet eligibility criteria, they can apply for a Victorian Government Carer Card and access this and other discounts. To find out more about the card, search for discounts or apply, go to www.carercard.vic.gov.au

The Carer Card website advises that to be eligible for the card, you need to be the primary carer of:

  • a person with disability, severe medical condition or mental illness, or
  • someone who is frail aged or in need of palliative care.

Foster carers, kinship carers and unpaid respite carers are also eligible.

The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing has confirmed primary care responsibilities can be shared, with more than one carer in a family able to apply for a Victorian Carer Card. This means that two or more family members providing care may be eligible for the Victorian Carer Card. We encourage all Victorian unpaid carers who may be eligible to apply.

Visit the Victorian Carer Card website to check eligibility requirements and apply online. You can also contact the DFFH Carer Card team on carercard@dffh.vic.gov.au or call 1800 901 958 if you would like an application form sent to you.


National Carers Week – It Was A Big Week For Carers!

National Carers Week arrived in Victoria with a clear mission to recognise the remarkable contributions of unpaid carers. This annual event, taking place from the 15 to 21 October, put a much-deserved spotlight on carers and their vital roles in our community.

We had a special theme – 'Caring for a Carer’ and it was our mission across the state, to do just that!

To support this cause, Carers Victoria launched a series of grants tailored for a suite of Carers Support Groups in Victoria. These grants were designed to help these groups organise events that brought unpaid carers together, offering a moment of respite and connection within the caregiving community. From morning teas to long lunches, these simple activities brought carers together for so much-needed connection and conversation.

National Carers Week wasn't just about local gatherings. On 19 October, Flinders Street Station, Melbourne's iconic hub, was illuminated in the vibrant colours of Carers Victoria, symbolising the start and end of this meaningful week. This impressive show of support extended to Geelong, lighting up these cities in the same colours.

Our Chair, Sue Peden also joined the 2023 Nike Melbourne Marathon Festival, running a half marathon with all sponsorship proceeds going to Carers Victoria. Whether you joined a team or went solo, each kilometre covered made a significant difference in supporting unpaid carers.

It was great to have a chance to raise broader community awareness about carers, what they do and what they need – and to celebrate their contribution. We know that many carers feel invisible and we are on a mission to fix that, so that carers no longer need to explain who they are, what they do or why they should be part of the conversation: everyone just gets it!


National Carers Week

Event Grants With Carer Support Groups

More than 2,200 carers attended one of 84 events hosted by Carers Victoria’s Carer Support Group members, as part of the National Carers Week Event Grants offered by Carers Victoria. The array of activities, diversity of groups, and spread across Victorian metro and regional/regional areas were impressive. Events included: Peter Mac Forest Therapy & Luncheon for carers, Albanian Women's Group Morning Tea in Dandenong, Parent Carer Connect - Carers Laserforce Fun, Dads Together Dinner and Ararat Carers Group Carers Week Morning Tea.

Carers appreciated being acknowledged and enjoyed being able to have a break and social outing, celebrating their connection to each other. We thank all the groups for celebrating with us!

Carers comments from the day included:

"All was very enjoyable - did not know what to expect. Absolutely wonderful outing - Thank you."
"Being in the forest to smell the trees, grass and to hear the nature's music. A big break for me. Enjoy the company of other carers too."

"Being treated with respect. The lunch offer conveys a genuineness. Thank you. The weather and environment made it memorable."

"I'm glad I made time for this. It's so good to meet with others and have some social time for me."
“It was great to have the opportunity to be enjoy a relaxing day and not think about my responsibilities.”


Annual Review Is Now Live

2022-23 was certainly a busy year for us, including celebrations of our 30th anniversary. To have a look back at what happened over the year, please take a few minutes to read our Annual Review document.


Carers Spring Fest Was A Smashing Success

Last month, Australian Multicultural Community Services came together for our annual Carers Spring Fest, a day filled with heartwarming moments. At the Carers Spring Fest event carers were able to connect with organisations such as Carers Victoria, Carer Gateway, and Australian Multicultural Community Services.

During the event, carers not only gained insights into the programs and support offered by organisations for unpaid carers, but they also enjoyed a day filled with a presentation on Wellbeing given by Dr Thanuja Ranatunga, activities with drums, dances, and music from a variety of cultural backgrounds, including performances by the Springvale Chinese Dance Group and Kofi Kunkpe, West African drummer. It was a truly enjoyable experience for all. But this event was more than just information and entertainment; it was a day to acknowledge and appreciate the commitment of unpaid carers. Their stories, shared experiences, and the bonds formed were truly heartwarming.


Carer Story

Margaret's Story

A heart of gold in the face of challenges

In the quiet suburb of East Keilor, Margaret life tells a story of love, resilience, and unwavering devotion as she cares for her husband, Bill, 82,who is battling prostate cancer. Their journey together has been far from easy, with Margaret herself having fought breast cancer, suffered blood clots, and lives with arthritis. But Margaret, 81, a true pillar of strength, faces each day with a spirit that's as unyielding as it is heartwarming.

Margaret wakes up each morning, and always enjoying a sleep in where possible, knowing that her day will be filled with caring for Bill. Bill's health no longer allows him to walk as far as he used to, and that's where Margaret steps in, helping him dress and providing the support he needs to face the day.

On Wednesdays, Bill embarks on a small adventure to the Scout group in Riddells Creek, cherishing the friendships he's forged over the years. Bill relishes the opportunity to cook lunch for the group. It's these small gestures that speak volumes about Bill’s passion and dedication to his much-loved group.

Bill and Margaret are blessed with a loving family, including two sons. David, a farmer in regional Victoria, has two children, while John, their other son, has three kids of his own. These five grandchildren light up Margaret's life, and she cherishes every moment spent with them, a respite from the daily caregiving responsibilities.

Margaret’s faith plays a significant role in her life as well. Margaret is an active member of the St. Peter gospel discussion group. Her spiritual community offers her support and a sense of belonging that's invaluable in her care giver journey.

“It is a wonderful time to connect with others, enjoying the friendships we have formed decades earlier.”

To ease the burden of caregiving, the Bill and Margaret have house cleaning services come in once a fortnight and someone to assist with their lawn mowing. It's a practical decision that allows Margaret to focus more on the things she loves - reading and indulging in her favourite chocolate treats.

“It’s those domestic duties which ease the burden for me and allows me more free time to take care of Bill as well as indulge in my hobbies.”

Margaret is not just a caregiver; she's a portrait of patience, understanding, and unwavering care. The challenges she's faced in her own health journey only seem to fuel her determination to care for Bill with a grace that's truly inspiring.

“Bill and I have been married for 60 years and we simply love each other. We have each other’s backs and enjoy our lives as much as possible. Being able to stay at home is so important – in our own surroundings and getting the help we need to feel safe and secure.”

Recently, Margaret connected with Carers Victoria, who has been a source of invaluable resources and support. The guidance she received has made her caregiving journey a little less daunting, and she's grateful for every helping hand along the way.

“Sometimes, all you need is to have someone to listen to your challenges. Having that support from Carers Victoria really makes a difference. I feel so much better when I finish having a chat as I am armed with renewed energy to crack on with our day.”

Margaret's story is a beautiful reminder that love and determination can conquer even the most formidable challenges life throws our way. She embodies the essence of caregiving, turning everyday moments into cherished memories, and her resilience in the face of adversity is inspiring. Margaret is a wonderful carer in the quiet corners of everyday life, where love and care shine the brightest.


Carer Stories

Do You Have A Story To Tell?

You are welcome to write your story yourself or answer these questions, which we will use to write your story for you. Not all stories will be chosen for the website.

  • Topic: My carer story
  • Length: No longer than 400 words
  • Format: Type your story in an email or a Word document, or type your answers to the questions in this document
  • Need inspiration? See other stories that have been written here
  • Submission process: Please email your story to eBulletin@carersvictoria.org.au
  • What if your story is chosen? Your story will be edited and returned to you to make sure you are happy with the final version before it is published on our website.

If you have any questions, please email: eBulletin@carersvictoria.org.au 

We look forward to hearing your carer story! 


To The Carers

By Carly

It is not often when you come across a local storyteller who can really capture an armful of emotions, challenges and triumphs.

Carers Victoria recently received this poem from ‘Carly’ a carer, who wanted to paint a picture of her world as a carer. She wanted to share it with Voice members.

To the carers who care
For their lifetime not just to adulthood
To those who do the night shift
In their own home night after night
To those who have let go
And watched their child fight the battle
That children usually watch their parents fight.
To the carers that quake in their boots
And simultaneously stand strong with boundaries
So that their families stay together.
I see you.

To those who work then
Come home to work again
A shift more taxing with no
Leave or payment to replenish those reserves,
To those who can’t work and
Watch their friends become distanced.
To those who watch on as their
Peers become promoted or study
While you turn away in frustration
At your lack of capacity through
No fault of your own.
To those who grieve a holiday
Without the constant demands
And hypervigilance and chance to
Return to work refreshed.
I see you.

To the carers whose friends move on
Because your child doesn’t fit in
Or participate in sports
Or know how to socialise
And so you are ostracised too.
I see you.

To the carers who advocate
for their child
for education
for employment
for social inclusion
for safe access
for health
for mental health
for holidays that meet their needs
for funding
for help
for therapists
for services And then have to advocate for
Themselves because this has affected
our health too
And our mental health
And our family’s health and mental health.
And the energy that this
constant advocacy sucks from your life.
I see you.

To the carers
That think they are
Not resilient (at least how the world
Tells us resilience should look like.)
I’m calling bull shit.
I see you.
I see you.
The depth of character
The resilience
The constancy
The endurance
The inclusion
The honesty
The generosity of self
The patience
The sacrifice
The joy in small things
The gratitude of small wins
The never-ending trying again and again.
I see you and I smile.
Because this is pure love
That you would lay down your life
For the one you care for.
But please carer,
I want to see you
Care for you too.

Carly D. Armstrong
28 September 2023 ©
In loving memory of George and his family
In honour of all carers for Australian National Carers Week
If you need assistance for caring contact Carer Gateway
If you need assistance for your mental health contact Lifeline on 13 11 14



New Support Service For Mental Health Carers In Melbourne’s South East

One of eight family and carer led centres established as part of Victoria’s mental health reform agenda, the South-East Metro Mental Health and Wellbeing Connect is a program of the Better Health Network in partnership with Berry Street Take Two and VACCA.

The new Centre is codesigned and staffed by those with lived or living experience as families or carers of people experiencing mental health and/or substance use challenges, so they can relate, understand, and assist people with their issues.

  • No referral necessary
  • Focused support to families, carers and supporters of people experiencing mental health and/or substance use challenges, a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System
  • A safe, warm, welcoming environment in which peer support is readily available
  • Full services are expected to commence by early 2024, including a main centre and additional satellite centres

Where: BHN - Tom Hills Room
Address: 341 Coventry Street South Melbourne
When: Monday, Thursday and Friday (9.30am to 4.30pm)
BHN is pleased to continue to offer ongoing phone support on 9066 1500

The above drop-in days provide family members, carers, friends and supporters with access to information, peer support, and the opportunity to relax and take a break.

For more information please contact them on 9066 1500.


Carers Victoria In The News

National Carers Week was also a significant time for a handful of carers who were willing to share their stories with the media.

We were fortunate enough to have the support of carer Margaret Farrell and her son, Cameron, as well as Dij Vriens and her daughter Zara, both from Geelong, who took time of their day to have their photograph taken and be interviewed.

Judith also spoke on ABC Radio Melbourne’s Conversation Hour with Carer Australia’s CEO, Alison Brook and a suite of carers about National Carers Week.

If you would like to see read/listen to the full pieces, click on the below links:


Investment For Australian Carers

Carers Victoria welcomes the recent announcement of the $3.8 million investment in a National Carers Strategy which will provide a coordinated carer policy, intended to remove geographical and agency boundaries for carers.

It comes as Carers Australia launches its Carer-Inclusive Workplace Initiative aimed at creating a more inclusive, supportive workplace for Australians who provide unpaid care in the community.

Businesses are being asked to take a self-assessment online to establish the extent of carer inclusivity in their organisation.

Each answer is given a score, and the overall results inform what happens next. If an organisation scores highly, they will automatically be deemed committed to becoming a carer-inclusive workplace.

Organisations with a lower score will be encouraged to complete e-learning modules and access resources before taking the self-assessment test again.

As a carer, you will then be armed with enough information to ensure you are working in an organisation where you know you are being supported and that have an empathetic approach to each carer’s personal circumstance.


Have Your Say: Carer Education Survey 2024

Our Carer Engagement team is busy planning our training and education offerings for 2024. To help inform this work we would love to hear from carers of all ages.



Play For Purpose

Who doesn’t love a good old-fashion raffle, especially when it is raising money for carers?

Tickets are only $10 with hundreds of prizes to be won including JB Hi-Fi gift vouchers valued at $15,000 and a Visa gift voucher worth $2,500 with the top prize being a $250,000 first prize pack which includes an Audi Q5 Sportback S Line and $131,000 in gold.

You need to hurry as the raffle ends on Thursday 14 December 2023.

With 395 prizes up for grabs, you have got to be in it, to win it!


Festive Season

Our operating dates and times over the

As we approach the holiday season, please be advised that our office team, including our carer services team, will be on a break. Operations will conclude at 5pm on Friday 22 December and will resume at 9am on Tuesday 2 January 2024. If carers require assistance during this period:

  • The Carer Gateway helpline operates from Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm local time. Even during public holidays, the after-hours service remains active.
  • For emergency respite needs, carers can reach out to 1800 422 737, 24/7.
  • The Carer Gateway Counselling Service is accessible on weekdays, from 8 am to 6 pm, to address any concerns about your carer role. To utilise this service, call 1800 422 737 and select Option 2 to connect with their team.

From all of the team at Carers Victoria, may your festive season be filled with wonderful times. And wishing you all a happy and safe 2024.


Featured Event

Speaking Up - Advocacy For Carers

It becomes simpler to coordinate services and support that suit your needs when you approach people with knowledge and a readiness to negotiate.

Explore practical strategies and tips on:

  • What individual advocacy involves
  • Getting prepared to express your needs
  • Effectively presenting your case
  • Making a complaint
  • Escalating a complaint, if necessary

We'll also delve into Carers Victoria's role in advocating for carers on a broader scale (systemic advocacy), giving you a chance to voice your concerns on matters important to you.

Connect with fellow participants, sharing knowledge and experiences, while enjoying light refreshments.

This workshop is proudly presented by Carers Victoria in collaboration with Melton City Council and Neighbourhood House Victoria.

When: Wednesday 21 February 2024
Time: 10.00am - 12.00pm
Where: Online via Zoom


From walking and brunch groups, how to set up a carer support facilitator group to a host of opportunities to connect and converse with likeminded carers, there are plenty of things on offer.


Online Survey

National Centre For Healthy Ageing (RACReN) Needs Your Input

RACRen is reaching out to you if you're involved in residential aged care, asking for your participation in the second round of a short survey. If you're a caregiver for family members or friends who currently live or have lived in a residential aged care home, they invite you to take part. Your involvement will include completing 1-2 short surveys (each taking 10-20 minutes) over the next year.

In the initial survey round in 2022, representatives from various backgrounds ranked the importance of different research topics for residential aged care. You can check out the summary of those results here. Now, they’re seeking your input to vote on the 32 research topics they identified as very important. Your feedback will help them create a shortlist of the 10 most critical items for residential aged care research.

As a thank-you for completing the survey, you'll be entered into a draw to win one of 10 $100 egift cards.



Are You Providing Care And Support For A Person Living With A Long-Term Health Condition?

Researchers at the University of Sydney want to hear about your perspective and experiences of providing care and support for someone living with a long-term health condition and experiencing loneliness or social isolation.

This study involves an interview with you (via telephone or online video conferencing) for about 45 minutes about your experiences of providing care and support for a person living with a long-term health condition, as well as social relationships and support.

If you choose to participate, you will be reimbursed in recognition of your time.

For more information, please contact: Dr Melissa Cheung Email: melissa.cheung@sydney.edu.au; Phone: (02) 8627 6985.


Carers have expressed that they would like to hear more about job opportunities, and we have heard you. As part of our role to support carers, we have included a Jobs Board which will operate as a convenient and easy-to-use platform for you to explore employment opportunities that are relevant to you and across various geographic locations.


Accor has created a recruitment program called “Work Your Way”, which offers multiple employment opportunities across Victoria that are flexible for carers.