'The Voice' Blog February 2024

We Welcome You To The First Edition Of The Voice For 2024

This edition is bursting at the seams with the latest carer events, news and insights – all aimed at supporting Victorian carers.

This month, Carers Victoria is hitting the road, visiting Fraser Rise (near Caroline Springs), Bannockburn, Warrnambool and Colac, with a mix of smaller workshops, forums and informal coffee catch ups. We will continue hosting these sorts of events, as well as Mingles, around the state, throughout the year.

This edition of The Voice also features competitions to enter, lots of carer updates, our Pre Budget submission, as well as fuel discounts on offer, which were recently introduced by the Allan Government.

We hope you enjoy this latest edition and wish you a happy 2024.



CEO Message

Welcome to 2024 all, and I hope that the new year is off to a good start for you and yours. We know just how tough 2023 was for many carers – our recent analysis of health and wellbeing survey data showed growing financial pressures and mental health and wellbeing challenges and we continue to raise these issues and advocate for changes that can better support unpaid carers. Our 2024 State Budget submission proposes some budget measures to respond – read on to learn more about what we are asking for!

As we neared the end of 2023, we were pleased to receive advice from the Victorian Government that Carers Victoria would be funded to provide additional carer respite in Geelong, the Latrobe Valley, Bendigo/Shepparton, and surrounds, as well as continuing provision of respite in Melbourne’s West. The Carers Victoria Board has been actively pursuing strategies to better meet the needs of rural and regional carers and this will be the next step in that journey. We are currently doing the planning work that will help ensure we can maximise the benefits to carers through this funding and will keep you updated as these programs start rolling out.

We are also working on our events and education calendar for the coming year, as we know that many carers value opportunities to participate in events locally and connect with other carers. We continue to work to extend the number, mix and approach to these so that as many people as possible can participate, either in person or online. Read on to learn more about what we are doing in this space, or have a look at our events calendar which will be regularly updated.

With thanks, Judith


Carers Victoria Hitting The Road In 2024

Many of the carers we connect with love our Mingle events. But those bigger events aren’t for everyone. Big events also limit us to regional centres with bigger venues.

We are therefore trying something a bit different this year. 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 for carers. 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 trips will be in Fraser Rise, Warrnambool, Colac and Bannockburn in February 2024.

We are also putting the finishing touches on our March and April road trips – stay tuned!


Carers Victoria 2024 State Budget Submission

We are proud to share with you Carers Victoria’s 2024 State Budget Submission.

Each year in May, the Victorian Government releases its budget for the coming financial year and in advance of that announcement, organisations like Carers Victoria produce submissions that highlight key priorities for the populations they serve.

It is challenging financial environment, and we have sought to balance that reality against the need to act to relive pressure on carers who report increasing levels of financial stress, low wellbeing and poorer health, Our submission proposes some relatively modest and highly targeted investment to respond to immediate carer needs including:

  • A financial relief package for Carer Card recipients, to relieve the squeeze on unpaid carers most feeling the pinch of current cost of living pressures
  • Development and piloting of an early intervention program, that aims to better equip new carers to sustain themselves in longer-term caring roles.
  • Modest growth in funded respite to ensure unpaid carers across the State have ready access to high quality support.

Carers Victoria has also advocated for carers to be included in any cost-of-living relief packages or concessions the government might be considering.



Fuel Discounts For Victorian Government Carer Card Holders

In our December edition, we announced that Victorian Government Carer Card holders would now be able to access fuel discounts. We also confirmed advice from government that secondary carers may also be eligible to receive a carer card if they meet the eligibility requirements.

If either of these circumstances apply to you but you missed the article (it was a busy time of year!), you might want to have a read here.


Do You Know Someone Who Could Benefit From Connecting To Carers Victoria?

Across the state, Carers Victoria is working hard to connect with as many carers as possible.

We were recently talking with a carer of a 26-year-old son with Down Syndrome, who told us that they valued Carers Victoria’s understanding of the challenges carers face, the support it provides when needed and just knowing that Carers Victoria was there if needed to offer advice, reassurance and assistance.

If someone you know is a carer but not already connected to Carers Victoria, please do encourage them to join us so you can access a wide range of information, benefits and support – at no cost to you. And by joining now, they also become eligible to enter our current Flight Centre competition.



Flight Centre

Dreaming of a beach holiday, a cozy bush retreat or a city exploration? This competition could make it happen!

One lucky carer could WIN a $1500 Flight Centre gift card, which is redeemable at participating Flight Centre retail stores located within Australia.

Don’t miss out on your chance to WIN!

The competition closes at midnight 31 March 2024.


Carer Story

Dij And Her Dedication To Care

“My daughter, Zarra, lives with me. Just us. Zarra, who has Down syndrome, is 33. She has an older brother and a younger brother, but she doesn't get to see them very much.”

For Dij, her role as a carer is clear.

"I have been caring for Zarra all of her life.”

For Dij, caring for Zarra is full-time commitment that consists of being there to support her to do everyday things 'by herself,' being there just in case. Then being her taxi service to get her to her day program, appointments, dance classes, and other social activities.

"Being there for her at the end of the day to look after any emotional and physical needs that have come up during the day," Dij adds.

“A typical day starts the night before, making Zarra aware of what the next two days hold in store for her so she has time to assimilate the information. Ensuring she is emotionally okay to go to bed is crucial.

"She likes to play a trick on me every night by turning the lights off and running away to her room with me chasing her and 'running into things in the dark.' I make sure she's okay and the blankets are on her," Dij chuckles.

Then Dij prepares Zarra's lunch and ensures her water bottle is ready in the fridge, all while checking that her alarm is set appropriately for the following day.

In the morning, Dij's alarm goes off 15 minutes after Zarra's. She checks if Zarra has heard her alarm or slept through, waking her if needed. Dij then makes herself a cup of tea while Zarra showers and gets dressed.

“She makes herself porridge for breakfast, but I need to be aware of when she puts it in and how long it's been in, as occasionally she gets the numbers jumbled, like 20 minutes instead of two minutes," Dij explains.

When Zarra is ready, Dij drives the 30 minutes to her program, often using that time to attend her own appointments or run errands. She picks Zarra up and drives the 30 minutes back home. Zarra changes her clothes while Dij prepares her evening meal.

“A few minutes for me to get a hot drink for myself, and then it's 30 minutes of driving to her bowling or dance classes. Wait around for that to finish (up to 3 hours) before we drive the 30 minutes home again," Dij recounts. "I'll make us both a herbal tea while she gets ready for bed.”

Then it starts all over again with preparations for the next day.

Dij's parents, aged 87 and 90, can't offer her much support other than their love. So being a carer, is a solo affair.

"I am registered with 2-3 carer groups but don't often get to the things on offer, even the online ones. I think I've been to for this year," Dij mentions.

She continues, "I have had five days (of 3-4 hours) to myself so far this year. At present, I am trying to find other programs for Zarra to try, as some aren't working out as much anymore. It's hard to find something that suits her and her time frames.”

The biggest challenge for Dij is not having enough time to do everything for Zarra as she requires more time and attention than a normal daughter.

And for Dij, there are four words which epitomise in being a carer.

“A carer is underpaid, underappreciated, time-deprived, and isolated," Dij says.

As a carer, Dij feels isolated but also part of a select section of the community, albeit one that doesn't get together much without a huge effort. Even trying to work out time to have lunch with a friend can take up to 6-8 weeks to fit in.

“I would like people to be made more aware of how much carers do for their loved one. I'd like to see carers get recognition from the government, as we save them an astronomical amount of money," Dij concludes, shedding light on the incredible sacrifices and dedication of caregivers like herself.


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! 



The Play For Purpose Lottery Is Back On!

It is literally a GOLDEN opportunity to be in the running for this once-in-a-lifetime first prize - $250,000 worth of gold bullion.

By participating in The Play for Purpose lottery, you are also helping raise money for carers with 50 percent of ticket sales revenue returned to Carers Victoria to support carers.

Tickets cost $10 with 395 prizes up for grabs, including a 2nd prize JB Hi-Fi voucher worth $15,000*, a 3rd prize Travel Associates voucher worth $7,500, a 4th prize a JB Hi-Fi voucher valued at $5,000 and a 5th prize Woolworths gift voucher worth $2500.

The raffle closes on Thursday 14 March 2024 with huge draw announcements made on Friday 15 March 2024.

*Should a resident outside of Victoria be drawn, the prize will be a VISA gift voucher


Rainbow Tick Of Approval

Respectful of diversity is one of Carers Victoria’s five values, and in line with that value, we were pleased to recently be reaccredited as a Rainbow Tick organisation, namely one that is a safe, inclusive and affirming provider of services and employment for the LBTIQA+ community. Carers Victoria is proud to be a Rainbow Tick accredited organisation as it is a reflection of our genuine commitment to being inclusive, welcoming and accessible.

The reaccreditation process, conducted by an independent quality accredited organisation, took place over two days and included both review of our documents and practises alongside interviews with carers, staff, Board members and organisations we work with. It is truly a group effort and one that we will continue into the future as part of our broader commitment to ensuring everyone feels safe, welcomed and supported.


Struggling With Energy Bills? Get Help Today

Whether you’re a student, pensioner or full-time worker – rising energy bills have put pressure on Victorian households.

If you’re struggling with energy bills, you’re not alone. You can get free help through the Victorian Government’s Energy Assistance Program.

The Energy Assistance Program (EAP) has helped over 7,000 households across Victoria and can help you save money and take charge of your energy bills.

If you’re in a low-income household and having difficulty paying your energy bills, you can receive one-on-one support to understand how to save money on your bills, access concessions and energy hardship support, and assistance to contact your retailer.

To get help with your energy bills today call 1800 161 215 – all you need is a copy of your most recent bill. Support is available over-the-phone or in person through community partners Anglicare Victoria and Community Information and Support Victoria.


G'Day Line

The Department of Social Services has introduced a new phoneline to support Australians aged over 50. The G’Day Line is a space for conversation with compassionate volunteers and may be useful for carers in this age group. The program aims to reduce loneliness and social isolation. The service operates 365 days a year from 8.00am to 8.00pm.

Carers can reach out by dialing 1300 920 552 or visiting the website.


Autism Friendly Workplaces Work For Everyone

Amaze, in partnership with the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, has released the next phase of its Change Your Reactions campaign – Autism friendly workplaces work for everyone.

The campaign showcases four Autistic people contributing to workplaces across Victoria in construction, office work, hospitality and education.

Steve, Rebecca, Jonathon and Christina share their real-life stories and examples of small changes workplaces can provide to help Autistic people perform at their best.

You can find helpful examples of small workplace adjustments on the 'Creating an autism friendly workplace web page' and the 'Creating an autism friendly team environment web page'.

Some of these adjustments include:

  • Making small changes to your recruitment process
  • Improving the onboarding experience
  • Allowing for adjustments to work processes, practices and procedures
  • Empowering your managers and teams with autism-friendly knowledge.

The Change Your Reactions public education campaign is proudly part of the Victorian Autism Plan and the Victorian Government’s vision for greater disability inclusion.

To learn more about the campaign and to access resources, visit the 'Amaze Autism friendly workplaces work for everyone' web page.


Minds Together Program

Support the mental health of your family and friends. Support yourself.

Everymind, an institute dedicated to the prevention of mental ill-health and self-harm, has developed the Minds Together program, which includes a suite of resources that are tailored to meet the specific needs of carers supporting someone working as a paramedic or who has attempted self-harm.


Support For Greek Speaking Carers

Looking After Loved Ones With Dementia

“Stronger together” is a new program launched by PRONIA offering in-language support groups for Greek speaking carers looking after loved ones with dementia.

Free in-person carer support groups are offered once a month in Brunswick, and Clayton bilingual professionals and are open to all Greek speaking carers. The groups offer the opportunity to share experiences with others in similar circumstances, enhance wellbeing, provide information and referrals and enable social connection in a relaxed space.

Carers are also able to receive further assistance in the Greek language through casework support and after-hours support telephone line.

People with early stages of dementia can attend our free centre-based day respite groups in any of our four Melbourne locations and Hobart.

This program was made possible through funding received from the Australian government to deliver this culturally and linguistically responsive safe program in Victoria and Tasmania.

PRONIA has been empowering members of the Greek Australian community to reach their full potential since 1972.

For more information about the program and/or referrals, call 03 9388 9998 or email dementiasupport@pronia.com.au



Your Input Matters: Carer Education

We're in the process of shaping our training and education programs for 2024, and your insights matter.

Carers of all ages, your input can make a real impact. Please take our five-minute survey.

The survey closes on Sunday 18 February.

Carers Victoria Workshops

We offer a wide range of workshops for carers and service providers.

Our workshops for carers support you to:

  • Develop skills to support your caring role;
  • Gain knowledge to navigate complex support service systems; and
  • Enhance your health and wellbeing.

Check out what’s on in February.



Carer Wellbeing and Connection

LGBTIQA+ Carers Online Group Session

Calling all LGBTIQA+ Carers in Melbourne’s North West!

Join our free online four-week Carer Wellbeing and Connection program, specifically curated for LGBTIQA+ carers from Tuesday 13 February, 10.30am - 12.00pm.

Caring for a loved one can sometimes feel lonely and isolated. If you can relate, our online Carer Wellbeing and Connection program might be just what you need.

Immerse yourself in four intimate 90-minute online group sessions to enhance your understanding of connectedness and personal wellbeing.

Don’t miss this opportunity to prioritise your wellbeing, while connecting with others who understand your journey.


Carer Wellbeing and Connection

Male Only Carers Program

We have created a program for male carers who live in Melbourne's North-West.

We are running a dedicated male-only free online four-week program for carers in Melbourne's North-West.

This therapeutic small group series will help you better understand connectedness and personal wellbeing, facilitated by an experienced mental health professional.

This program, supported by North Western Melbourne PHN, runs over four consecutive weeks from Wednesday 14 February 2024, 10.30am – 12.00pm.

Don’t miss this opportunity to prioritise your wellbeing, while connecting with others who understand your journey.

Spots are limited, get in quick!


Carer Support Group – Community of Practice

A Community of Practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a common concern, a set of problems, or an interest in a topic, and who come together to share what they have learned and resolve common challenges.

Carers Victoria’s CoP is made up of a group of facilitators of Carer Support Groups across Victoria. In 2023, twenty unpaid facilitators participated, where they met online every two months.

The following topics were explored over the year:

  • Promoting your groups and attracting new members
  • Building positive relationship within the group
  • Getting the money and other resources you need and
  • Supportive communication for non-counsellors

The final meeting was an opportunity for the group to meet one another face-to-face in Kyneton.

It was a great opportunity to receive some valuable feedback which included:

"Attending the CoP has given me the energy, support, and ideas I needed to continue in my role as a volunteer facilitator of a CSG with energy and enthusiasm."

"Attending the CoP has made me realise how much I can share with other volunteer facilitators of Carer Support Groups.”

When asked how the CoP has impacted their role as a facilitator of a Carer Support Group, another member responded by saying, “Community spirit, information, knowledge and belonging.”

Carers Victoria is pleased to announce that the Community of Practice for facilitators of Carer Support Groups will expand in 2024. Recognising the complexities and logistics can be different for facilitators who run their groups on a voluntary basis and for those who are working for a service funded to host a Carer Support Group, Carers Victoria will trial two separate groups, one for paid, and another for unpaid facilitators in 2024. These groups will come together every two months.

The program will commence in March 2024. So please look out for the links to register for the Community of Practice that is most relevant to you on our website from early February.


Wyndham Disability Connection Expo

Australian Disability Services is hosting the annual Wyndham Disability Connection Expo.

Date Wednesday 14 February 2024
Time 10.00am - 1.00pm
Where 33-35 Windorah Drive, Point Cook
RSVP and inquiries info@australiadisabilityservices.com.au

Discover tailored services for diverse needs, from assistive technologies to support services. Engage with experts, connect with like-minded individuals, and empower the community.

Don't miss out on this opportunity for knowledge, connections, and the latest in disability services!


Men's Bereavement Support Group

Cooking, Company And Chat After The Death Of A Loved One

Anam Cara Colac is offering informal and supportive monthly evening meals for men who are feeling the loss of a family member, friend or loved one.

Anam Cara Colac understands that evenings can be hard, a time when you truly feel the loss of your loved one. You don’t need to be alone, come along to Anam Cara Colac for a monthly Saturday night get together where you can share dinner with other people who have experienced loss, access social support and enjoy having a chat.

The group will be supported by staff and volunteers at Anam Cara Colac. If you would like to learn to increase your cooking skills in the process, we would be delighted to help you develop your cooking expertise in our wonderful kitchen.

If you would like to know more and would like to book in to participate, to learn some new cooking skills or just for dinner, please get in contact.

When: The next meeting is on the 24 February
Where: Anam Cara House Colac - 50 Forans Road, Barongarook West
RSVP essential for catering and staffing purposes liaison@anamcarahousecolac.org.au


Walking Groups

Western Programs walking groups

Carers in Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Caroline Springs, Moonee Valley and Werribee are invited to come along to a walking group in your area. Catch up with other carers over a light brunch and find out about local supports and services for carers. Places are limited, so register your place now.

Parks Victoria Walking Alongside Carers Victoria

Carers Victoria is collaborating with Parks Victoria to further promote the value of outdoor exercise and wellbeing, urging carers to participate in the suite of Guided Park Walks on offer.

Parks Victoria is offering free guided park walks across the state, guided by trained volunteers to enjoy, and explore urban parks or bushland and suitable for all ages.

From the You Yangs, Macedon Regional Park and Wilsons Promontory, to Yarra Bend Park, Wetlands, Lysterfield Park and Ocean Grove Nature Reserve, the choices are diverse as they are beautiful.

It is an opportunity for carers to enjoy the stunning serenity of trees and wildlife, as well as being able to relax and catch up with friends or family for a coffee at a nearby café.

Whether you a first-time nature walker or have had previous experience, Parks Victoria has created a mix of walks for different capabilities.

Heart Foundation walking groups: Australia wide

There's a reason why walking is one of the most popular forms of activity in Australia. Join a Heart Foundation walking group to reduce stress, be more alert, have a healthier body and build strong relationships.



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.