'The Voice' Blog May 2024

Welcome To The May Edition Of The Voice

CEO Message

Hello everyone,

This month, I thought I’d spend a few minutes updating you on some of the national advocacy work that Carers Victoria is involved in as part of the National Carers Network which comprises the state, territory, and federal carers organisations.

We’ve started engaging with federal MPs to both raise awareness of the importance of unpaid carers, and to advocate for measures to address the significant financial challenges faced by so many of them. Superannuation on carer payments is the first of those asks, and we will be advocating for that in the lead up to the federal election. We were pleased to see the recent announcement of increased flexibility around work requirements related to carer payment eligibility – a very small first step, but definitely one in the right direction. We want to see many more steps – some of them much larger – into the future!

At the same time, we are really pleased to see others outside the carer ‘ecosystem’ unite around our shared purpose of advancing understanding of unpaid carers and improving their access to assistance. For instance, ARE media – one of the largest media organisations in the country, that publishes many familiar magazine titles including the Australian Women’s Weekly – recently launched a campaign to raise awareness among its readership of the importance of carers, and what they need. The Cost of Caring campaign page can be found here and the petition here.

We want carers to be everybody’s business, so that you don’t need to explain what you do, battle to be part of discussions that will shape your day-to-day for many months to come, or fight to get some help when you really need it.

Partnerships with corporate and philanthropic organisations are an important part of this advocacy work. I’d like to highlight the diversity of some of the partnerships we have established at Carers Victoria, which include Accor, Ariel Care, CareAbout, and Live Life Foods. These organisations assist our work in a variety of ways, from sponsoring events to providing special offers, and ultimately recognising and supporting carers.

Take care all,



Australian Government Announces Change to Conditions for Carer Payment

In advance of the 2024 Federal Budget, Minister Amanda Rishworth has announced changes to the participation limits on work and study for people receiving the Carer Payment. The changes will provide carers with more flexibility around paid employment, study and training. Additionally, travel time will no longer be counted in the limit, which will particularly assist carers who live in regional and remote areas.

Increasingly, flexibility around these rules will help those carers who either currently receive the payment, or were previously ineligible because of the way their paid employment worked. So it is a positive (albeit small) step in the right direction towards our broader goal of addressing the substantial financial inequity that so many carers face by being in a caring role.


Victorian State Budget 2024

As foreshadowed by the Victorian Government and many media commentators, the 2024 Victorian State Budget had to balance the need for cost-of-living relief, growing demand for essential services and a challenging fiscal environment.

New initiatives included cost of living relief measures for families with children in public schools and eligible students in non-government schools. This will be $400 per child towards school uniforms and excursions to be paid in Term 1 2025.

Some high-profile infrastructure projects such as the Melbourne Airport Rail Link were delayed by at least four years. The rollout of Mental Health and Wellbeing Locals (Locals) has been slowed. Evaluation of the first 15 Locals will occur throughout 2024 before the commissioning process of the next Locals. Some high-profile programs have been delayed or will end including the sick pay guarantee and a slower roll out of Four-Year-Old kinder, Pre-Prep.

In this environment, there were no new initiatives specifically targeted to carers, but we were pleased to see government sustain its investment in carer respite, which will total some
$9.5 million in 2024-25.

There were also a range of new/expanded initiatives that may benefit some carers:

  • $6.8 million to triple the ‘glasses for kids’ program which provides free vision testing and prescription glasses for Prep to Year 3 students.
  • $211 million to keep women and children safe and support victim-survivors.
  • $32.8 million to continue and expand the Students with Disabilities Transport Program.
  • $24 million to continue support for Victorians with disability.
  • $25.6 million for support and treatment of eating disorders, including supporting families and carers.

In health care, we saw $13 billion of new funding, including $1.7 billion to build and upgrade hospitals (Austin, Northern and Monash Medical Centre).

The longer-term challenge in the State Budget remains the significant interest bill payable on investment loans, with the budget forecasting that in 2024-25 this will cost $6.5 billion.

More information about the State Budget, including links to a range of fact sheets about the different initiatives, can be found here.



What’s On In May and June 2024

The next couple of months are packed full of carer events and programs, both face-to-face and online.

Visit our What’s On calendar to explore what we have on offer to support you in your carer role – whether it be through learning and development, connecting with other carers or taking some well-earned time out. All events are free of charge, but places are limited.

Find out what’s happening:


Carer Wellbeing and Connection - Current and Bereaved Carers in Melbourne’s North-West

Carers Victoria is running a free four-week online therapeutic program for carers in the Northwestern region of Melbourne, to promote a deeper understanding of connectedness and personal wellbeing.

Three groups will be held in June for current carers.

One group will be held specifically for bereaved carers (where the person who was cared for has passed away). If this applies to you, we are very sorry for your loss and hope this group may be of benefit to you.

Please register your interest to find out more. Spaces are limited!


Online Opportunities

It can be difficult for carers to get out to activities and events, especially if they are in rural or regional areas. That’s why online events are a key part of our suite of offerings.

Coming up on Tuesday 14 May, is My Aged Care – An Introduction workshop.

This online workshop is for carers and families who are new to the My Aged Care system, and includes an overview of the system, types of services available and eligibility requirements.


It’s Time to Mingle

Our upcoming Mingle events in May are:

  • Tuesday 21 May Bairnsdale Mingle hosted with East Gippsland Council – featuring wellbeing session, Chair Yoga and the Nowa Nowa Men’s Choir.
  • Thursday 30 May Shepparton Mingle – featuring a mindfulness session and special musical guest.

Don’t worry if there hasn’t been a Mingle in your area, we will be hosting Mingle events throughout the year. Keep an eye on your emails for invitations or head to the Mingles 2024 page on our website.


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 as 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 are 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.



Calling First Nations Carers

Carers Victoria invites Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people and services to review and give feedback on our draft ‘Innovate’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), to help inform our work with First Nations carers over the next few years.

As the peak body representing unpaid carers in Victoria, it is important that our services are appropriate, welcoming, and culturally safe – for all carers. Carers Victoria understands that, despite best intentions, we may not always get this right.

This RAP consultation is an opportunity for you to tell us how we, as a peak body, can be more inclusive and welcoming so you feel safer accessing our services.

We are also keen to establish partnerships and referral pathways with appropriate bodies who do have the specialist expertise to provide the full range of culturally safe and appropriate services individual carers may need, so we can offer the best possible referrals.

We encourage as many people as possible who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander to be part of the consultation. To find out more please speak with our RAP Champion, Leah Lonsdale, via email to leah.lonsdale@carersvictoria.org.au or phone 0407 326 171.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts.


National Carer Strategy Advisory Committee

The Minister for Social Services, the Hon Amanda Rishworth MP has appointed 16 members to the National Carer Strategy Advisory Committee, including two co-chairs, members from the carer community and sector representatives. This follows an expression of interest process through which over 500 applications were received.

The names of committee members, and updates around the Committee’s work, can be found on their website.



Recognising, Valuing and Supporting Unpaid Carers 

As we shared in the April edition of the Voice, the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs released its Recognising, valuing and supporting unpaid carers report, making a total of 22 recommendations to improve the lives of carers, the services they need, and their involvement in programs and services that affect them. The Committee was unified in its view that ‘carers must be considered as a priority, rather than as adjunct to the needs of the people they care for.’

While it is still early days, this can represent a seismic shift in Australia’s carer policy and we wait to see if the Government will begin its work before making a full response to the Committee’s report. This is particularly important in relation to the Committee’s recommendation that the Government seek legal advice about how best to establish rights for carers by the end of this year.


Mingles 2024

We had fabulous fun at our first two Mingle events for 2024.

In March, Carers Victoria and Knox City Council hosted an evening Mingle with 80 carers, where we were entertained by the fabulous and funny Kate from podcast 'Two Peas in a Pod', who generously shared her own caring story.

Then in April, 100 carers celebrated a Mingle in Dandenong hosted in partnership with the Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre, where carers were entertained by Tai Chi expert Margaret Eoe and Joey and Molina from the Tropical Notes. Carers enjoyed the entertainment, gained information about health, wellbeing and services, and connected with other local carers.

We’d like to shout out the wonderful service providers who came along to share information with carers about supports in their local area.


Competition Winner

Winter escape on the cards for Flight Centre prize winners!

We’d like to extend a big congratulations to the winner of our March Flight Centre competition – Talitha D from Gippsland.

Talitha is a full-time carer for her eighteen-year-old son, Spencer. His sixteen-year-old brother Jasper also shares caring responsibilities.

‘Carers Victoria has been great at providing support over the last few years with counselling referrals and linking Jasper into the Young Carers Program.’

The Flight Centre prize is the family’s first big win, and everyone is very excited! On hearing the news, Spencer, an avid fan of trains, immediately began planning a train trip. Talitha is thinking somewhere warm, such as Darwin, might be the go.

‘It gets cold in Gippsland over the winter, so a nice winter escape is something we are looking forward to.’

Become a member to enter our latest competition below!


Competition Winner

Take a Break with a $700 Accor Gift Card!

In partnership with Accor, this month we’re offering another lucky carer a chance to win an accommodation gift card to the value of $700! The gift card is valid at any of Accor’s participating hotels across Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Enter to be in the running for a well-deserved getaway experience. Don't miss out on your chance to win!

The competition closes at midnight 31 May 2024.



Have you got your Play for Purpose Raffle #23 tickets yet?

You could be taking home the $250,000 First Prize Pack which includes the Volkswagen California Beach and $120,000 in cashable gold bullion! Imagine what you could do with all that gold! You could sell it and take the cash, invest it, or combine the two!

Don’t miss your chance to win this incredible $250,000 First Prize Pack with a $10 ticket today!


Encourage your family and friends who are in caring roles to join Carers Victoria

Not only is membership free, but it also gives carers access to information, funded events and other things specifically tailored to their needs.

Membership benefits include:

  • Exclusive invitations to events including our popular Mingle events, carer workshops and programs.
  • Championing for real change through consultations, focus groups and research.
  • Staying informed with our monthly eBulletin 'The Voice', jam-packed with important carer issues, events and stories.
  • Free digital access to the magazine Australian Carers Guide.
  • Special member offers and discounts on goods and services including Hoyts movie tickets, Accor accommodation, and Live Life Foods pre-packaged meals.


Australian Carers Guide Autumn Edition

The Australian Carers Guide Autumn edition is loaded with great stories and insights to support carers.

In this issue, ACG looks at the Aged Care Taskforce Final Report, and what this means for the average Australian and their hip pocket.

ACG includes fun and free activities being offered around Victoria. And of course, plenty of articles and activities you can access online – including everyone’s favourite brain-teasing numbers game SUDOKO!

Read the magazine online or pick up the latest edition at your favourite newsagent. The Australian Carers Guide is circulated to more than 80,000 readers and subscribers and it is the go-to magazine for unpaid carers around the country.


Carer Advisor to the Board

Introducing Helen Johnson

In June 2023, the Carers Victoria Board appointed Helen Johnson as Carer Advisor to the Board. This vital new role was established to inform and deepen the Board’s awareness and understanding of the issues of carers, with a particular focus on carers in rural and regional Victoria. As a carer for her adult son living with complex disabilities, Helen also brings lived experience to the role.

We invited Helen to tell us a little about the Carer Advisor role, what she hopes to achieve through it, and how you can get in touch to share your concerns and suggestions with her.

What is the advantage of having a role like this?

I am passionate about improving the lives of Victorian carers, and as the Carer Advisor to the Board, I can meet carers and establish ‘on the ground’ engagement and connection with many carers across Victoria.

This creates a direct pathway for carers to have their voices heard, to raise concerns, share their ideas and provide important feedback to the Board on all carer related matters. This will further inform the Board’s strategy and create improved outcomes for Victorian carers.

You’ve been out talking to carers in Gippsland recently, what are some of the key issues they raised?

I heard a wide range of issues facing these carers. Recurring themes included financial challenges due to the increased cost of living, concerns about the impact of caring on their health and wellbeing, a lack of inclusion and participation both in the community and with services, and the complexity of navigating the NDIS and aged care systems. Many people also expressed experiencing a lack of understanding of the caring role, from employers, colleagues, friends and even their own families.

What are you are hoping to achieve in this role?

I will continue to meet with more carer groups in rural and regional areas across Victoria to hear emerging issues and challenges that they are facing day-to-day. I will seek their ideas with an aim to brainstorm solutions together, which I will then share with the Carers Victoria Board.

When and where possible, I plan to attend Carers Victoria events and consultations, which will also provide me with additional opportunities to meet and connect with carers.

Are you available to speak to carer support groups and others who want to chat to you?

I am very keen to meet with carers attending carer support groups. To ensure I can meet people right across Victoria, I will sometimes be doing this via video conferencing.

How do you plan to collaborate with carers, including diverse groups of carers, and those in marginalised or underrepresented communities to ensure their perspectives are represented?

I ask everyone to spread the word about the Carer Advisor to the Board role, to ensure all carers are heard and represented. I encourage any diverse groups of carers who are meeting in a specific carer support group to reach out to me so that I can come along to their group (online or face-to-face) to listen to their challenges, consider solutions and to have their voices heard.

If you’d like to speak to Helen, or invite her to attend a carer support group, please email: helenj@carersvictoria.org.au


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!