VOICE - News

Welcome to The Voice August

In this edition we’re excited to introduce you to our new CEO, Judith Abbott. Judith will commence her role at Carers Victoria in October, and we can’t wait to share more from her. Find out more about Judith’s extensive experience in government and not-for-profit organisations below.

As lockdowns continue to roll on, it becomes increasingly important to look after ourselves. This month we have included some ways you can be taking care of your mental health, as well as ideas on how to keep the kids entertained. Keep reading to learn more.

The eligibility criteria for getting the Pfizer vaccine expanded this month. Find out more about who is now eligible for a Pfizer vaccine below. 

Applications are now open for the Young Carer Bursary 2022. If you are a young carer, or know someone who is, encourage them to visit the links below to find out more and apply today.

Look after yourself.

Happy reading.


CEO Announcement: Welcome Judith Abbott

We are pleased to announce Judith Abbott as Carers Victoria's new CEO. Judith is an enthusiastic and motivated individual who will bring deep government and not-for-profit experience to the role.
 
Judith’s experience ranges from senior roles in Victorian government as well as work with private and member-based organisations. She has a solid understanding of the rapidly evolving health and social care environments in which carers carry out their roles, as well as the challenges and opportunities that face not-for-profit, member-based organisations. Judith has a genuine interest in carers, and is keen to apply her system knowledge, networks and strategic acumen to strengthen Carers Victoria’s influence and impact to help it, and most importantly carers themselves, thrive.
 
Judith will officially step into the role in October. 


COVID-19 Vaccine Update

The eligibility criteria for getting the Pfizer vaccine expanded this month. As of yesterday, every Victorian aged 16 years and over will be eligible to access a Pfizer vaccine at state-run vaccination centres. Bookings are essential and can be made here.

In addition to this group, the Pfizer vaccine is also now available to:

  • Young people aged 12-15 who are at risk of getting very sick if they contract COVID-19 (including children with severe asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, cardiac and circulatory anomalies, neuro developmental disorders, immuno-compromised and trisomy 21);
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people;
  • Young people in remote communities (aged over 12 years);
  • Pregnant women.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is still available to anyone over the age of 18 with their verbal consent and is the recommended vaccine for people aged over 60 years oldYou can choose to book an appointment ahead of time, or walk in to an eligible vaccination centre.

For more information about the two vaccines, click here.

Residential aged care workers and residential disability care workers will be provided with priority access to COVID-19 vaccination through all Victorian vaccination clinics from Monday 23 August until Sunday 29 August 2021.

All workers in residential aged care and disability care settings are eligible, including staff, paid and unpaid carers and volunteers.

People attending sites infrequently such as management, therapists/practitioners, advocates and maintenance workers are all eligible.

Priority access at vaccination centres will be available, however it is recommended workers book a priority appointment by calling 1800 675 398.


COVID-19 Restrictions

Further restrictions were placed on Melbourne last week to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The new rules include a nightly curfew from 9pm to 5am.

You are allowed to leave home during curfew hours for limited reasons including;

  • care and support of a child or someone with special needs;
  • authorised work;
  • health and medical purposes;
  • in an emergency or to escape harm.

To find out more about the latest restrictions in Melbourne click here.

For more information about restrictions in regional Victoria click here.


Looking after Yourself

As lockdowns roll on, it is important to prioritise caring for yourself. Lockdown fatigue, the stress of managing a household when everyone is always at home, the lack of social connection and the disappointment of cancelled plans play havoc with our mental (and physical) self. Scheduling time for yourself and giving yourself little things to look forward to are important tools to managing the complex emotions of prolonged lockdowns.

Mental health organisation Reach Out has compiled a list of 10 ways to take care of yourself through coronavirus, from making a feel-good playlist to trying meditation. Check them out here.


National Carers Week 2021

National Carers Week 2021 is just around the corner. Held from October 10 to 16, National Carers Week is a time to recognise the 2.65 million Australians who provide care and support to a family member or friend with disability, mental health condition, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail aged.

Look out for more information coming soon from Carers Victoria highlighting some of the ways we’ll be celebrating National Carers Week this year.

In the meantime, check out the website for some ideas about how you can celebrate the week, or to add your own National Carers Week event.  


Australian Carers Guide

Carers Victoria has several feature articles in the brand new publication Australian Carers Guide.

Australian Carers Guide is an independent quarterly publication designed to support and inform today’s primary carer.  

You can find it at selected newsagents and hospitals from late September.

Carers Victoria members get free digital access to the magazine. Become a member today to find out more.


Carer Friendly Neighbourhood Houses

Neighbourhood Houses Victoria and Carers Victoria have partnered to deliver the Carer Friendly Neighbourhood Houses program.

Victorian Neighbourhood House staff and volunteers are participating in the program developed by Carers Victoria to gain a greater insight into the needs of carers and how they can better support them.

Through this program, Neighbourhood Houses complete several online learning modules to become known as a “Carer Friendly Neighbourhood House”, a welcoming space for carers that offers activities and can link carers in with appropriate services and supports. More Neighbourhood Houses are joining every week.

Look out for the Carer Friendly sticker at your local Neighbourhood House or community centre or search for a house near you here.

To find out more about the program email carers.hubs@carersvictoria.org.au


Young Carer Bursaries

Applications for the Young Carer Bursary 2022 are now open.

The Young Carer Bursary helps young carers under the age of 25 who are currently studying or training or will be in 2022. The program offers 1,000 bursaries to the value of $3,000 each year.

It is estimated that there are 235,000 young Australians aged 12 to 25 who are in an unpaid caring role for family or friends.

These young carers often juggle school, employment and their caring responsibilities which can include: providing emotional and advocacy support, assisting with medication, supporting physically with showering and other personal care tasks, household chores and looking after siblings.

Applications for the Young Carer Bursary are now open. Download the information kit for young carers, family and friends here or apply now

Applications close on Thursday 30 September 2021.


Communities of Practice: Carer Support Group Facilitators

Do you facilitate a support group for carers? Join our Community of Practice for Carer Support Group Facilitators.

We have 90 facilitators that have joined the community across the state so far. Each group shares practice, including what we know, common problems and possible solutions that have worked for other groups. To join this, please fill out this registration form.


Online Business Lift-Off Program

Want to make your business idea come to life, but you're not sure where to start?

Or you want to work, but you can’t fit a traditional job into your demanding life?

The self-paced Online Business Lift-Off Program (OBL) can help you get your own business started, whether you already have an idea in mind or not.

Previously piloted as part of the Australian Government’s Try, Test and Learn program (an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Social Services), the Online Business Lift-Off program has now worked with over 100 people, many of them carers.

Working at your own pace, it typically takes 4-6 months to get a business set up from scratch. The program is a mixture of online training content, access to experienced coaches and a supportive community.

To find out more about the Online Business Lift-Off Program download the flyer here, or go to the website to get started today.


Aged Care Visitor Code

Twelve aged care and consumer peak bodies have released an updated Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19, which ensures Australians living in residential aged care can safely receive visitors. The purpose of the Code is to ensure that older Australians living in residential care have as much protection as possible from COVID while ensuring that their mental health and social connections are maintained throughout the pandemic.

The Code signatories are calling for State and Territory Health Directives to list 'Partners in Care', who are people who go in every day to support their loved one, as 'essential care visitors.' The Code can be found here.


Inquiry into GP and related primary health services to outer metropolitan, rural, and regional Australians

The Federal Parliament’s Senate Community Affairs References Committee is conducting an inquiry into the provision of general practitioner and related primary health services to outer metropolitan, rural, and regional Australians. It will consider Government reforms and policies, including the Stronger Rural Health Strategy, geographical classification systems, GP training reforms and Medicare rebates, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on doctor shortages.

The committee is seeking submissions from a wide range of people and organisations, including individuals with first-hand experience delivering or accessing GP and related health services in outer metropolitan, rural and regional areas of Australia.

For more information or to make a submission click here.


A Guide to Disclosing HIV Status

Disclosure of HIV status is one of the main areas where the law affects the lives of people living with HIV. Funded by a Victorian Law Foundation grant, the new guide from Living Positive Victoria will help individuals understand some of the legal issues involved.

Read the guide here.


In The News: Caring Role Inspires Eamon to be a Paramedic

Growing up with a brother with physical and cognitive disabilities, Eamon Glass knows first-hand the feelings of relief that he experienced when paramedics turned up to attend to his brother as a child.

In this article by 9Entertainment, Eamon reflects on how these experiences influenced him to become a paramedic. The 26 year-old is one of the newest team members on the factual TV series Paramedics.

Article: Rachael Gavin, 9Entertainment

Image: Nine

Read the article.

 

 

Welcome to The Voice July

It was a relief to many to see some COVID-19 restrictions lift on Tuesday night. For a snapshot of the changes, see our COVID-19 update.

Earlier in the month, Carers Victoria acknowledged NAIDOC Week with a cultural walk for carers through Melbourne’s CBD led by a local guide from the Koorie Heritage Trust. Find out what we discovered below.

Have you been watching our videocast Conversations with Carers Victoria? This month we spoke to author, comedian and carer Nelly Thomas about her latest book Some Brains – A Celebration of Neurodiversity. We’re giving away Nelly’s book to three lucky Carers Victoria members. Scroll down to find out how you can enter, or sign up to become a member to access more competitions like this one, as well as loads of other great benefits.

Also in this edition, we introduce our new General Manager of Business Development & Strategic Partnerships, Murray Fay. Keep reading to find out more about Murray and what drove him to apply for the role.


Staff Spotlight: Meet Murray Fay

Murray Fay recently joined Carers Victoria in a new role for the organisation, General Manager of Business Development & Strategic Partnerships.

Murray’s personal experience in caring roles drove him to apply for the position.

“The opportunity to work with a values and purpose driven organisation like Carers Victoria where I could combine my lived experience with my commercial and not-for-profit skills was highly attractive to me,” he says.

Murray began his marketing and business development career in the banking, publishing and advertising/communication industries and in 2000 decided to take his commercial sector skills and experience into the not-for-profit and profit-for-purpose sectors.

Murray has held senior management and executive positions with Wesley Mission, Mission Australia, NPS MedicineWise, cohealth Limited and now with Carers Victoria. He has extensive commercial experience across marketing and business strategy, business and market development and growth, strategic stakeholder engagement and fundraising.

Murray is passionate about developing high performance teams and cultures, service design in the social services and healthcare sectors and developing high performance partnerships anchored in collaboration, driven by values and purpose and focused on solving “wicked social problems”.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Carers Victoria at this exciting time in the organisations’ development as we continue to be the “voice” of carers, raise awareness of carers and caring across the community and provide relevant, valuable and innovative supports and services for carers,” Murray says.

“I will be working to ensure our business development and strategic partnerships effectively enable Carers Victoria to continue to achieve our vision and purpose and be a leading organisation in Australia’s social and healthcare service system.”


COVID-19 Vaccine Update

The Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) has released a new pro-vaccination ad “Back to the Good Things”.

Getting vaccinated will keep us safe.  It will also allow us to get back to the life we love, the good things.  So please get vaccinated, when you can.

Click on the video to watch. To find out more about the vaccine rollout including when you are eligible for vaccination, visit the Department of Health website here.  


COVID-19 Update

A number of COVID-19 restrictions eased across Victoria on Tuesday night. The changes include:

• You can now leave your home for any reason;

• Schools will reopen for all students;

• Public gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed;

• Hospitality venues, retail, gyms, community facilities and personal care services will reopen with density limits.


While this is welcome news, some restrictions will remain in place to keep our community safe. These include:

• Masks must still be worn indoors and outdoors, unless an exemption applies;

• Gatherings in the home are not permitted.

 

For a full list of the current restrictions, see the Victorian Coronavirus website.


Young Carer Scholarship Awards

Earlier this month we held a special event to celebrate young carers and their families and commemorate this year's Young Carer Scholarship Awards. A total of 72 people attended, including 13 Scholarship recipients. 

The celebration included speeches from Sue Peden and Little Dreamers' Taylar Registro, spectacular entertainment from magician and mentalist Cath Jamison, and delicious morning tea.

This year, the Young Carer Scholarship Program celebrates 14 years of supporting young carers. During this time, it has supported 1950 young carers. The program acknowledges the contribution of young carers in secondary school, who provide unpaid care to a family member with a disability, mental or chronic or illness or who is an aged person. Scholarship recipients choose to utilise their scholarships in a variety of ways to create a positive impact on their life.

The Young Carer Scholarship Program would not be possible without the generous support of philanthropic and community donors. Thank you to Mount Eliza Rotary Club, Sue Fincham, Stephen Alomes, Pavla Pilcova and generous Carers Victoria members and donors for supporting the Young Carer Scholarship Program.


NAIDOC Week

To recognise NAIDOC week (4-11 July) and this year’s theme “Heal Country”, Carers Victoria organised an Aboriginal-led walking tour for carers to explore and understand the cultural significance and rich history of the Melbourne CBD.

It was an eye opening and informative experience. Lucas, our guide from Koorie Heritage Trust, showed us tools and weapons used for hunting as well as fighting, and talked about the roles of Aboriginal men and women when it came to making tools and clothing as well as hunting and gathering. We heard stories about three areas around Federation Square, the most significant being Birrarung Mar (Yarra River).

To learn more about Carers Victoria’s commitment to reconciliation, read our Reconciliation Action Plan.


Community of Practice: Carer Support Group Facilitators

Our Community of Practice for Carer Support Group Facilitators has got off to a great start, with 90 facilitators joining the Community so far.

During the sessions, Carer Support Group facilitators share what they know about running a Carer Support Group, common problems and potential solutions.

To join the Community, fill out the registration form here.


Live Your Potential NDIS Expo

Thank you to everyone who voted for Carers Victoria in the Live Your Potential NDIS Expo charity competition. Thanks to your votes, Carers Victoria has been selected as one of the nominated charities to receive donations from the Expo.

The Expo, which will be held at the Timber Yard in Melbourne on 12 September 2021, is a free event for NDIS participants and their carers to meet NDIS providers and join in fun, inclusive activities.

Find out more about the Expo here.


Consultation: Serious Incident Response Scheme for in-home aged care services

The Serious Incident Response Scheme for residential aged care commenced on 1 April 2021. The SIRS sets new arrangements for residential aged care providers, including flexible care in a residential setting, to manage and take reasonable steps to prevent incidents, with a focus on the safety, health and wellbeing of aged care consumers. As part of the 2021-22 Budget, the Australian Government announced funding to expand the SIRS to in-home aged care services from 1 July 2022.

This consultation aims to assist in the development of specific design elements to expand the SIRS from residential aged care to a home setting. The consultation paper can be found here.

The survey can be found here.

The consultation closes 9 August 2021.


State Government Power Saving Bonus

ECCV is helping financially vulnerable Victorians from CALD backgrounds to access the State Government's $250 Power Saving Bonus. In partnership with the Department of Energy, Land, Water and Planning, the Community Outreach Program is available to support consumers across Melbourne who are experiencing stress related to their energy bill.

Find out how ECCV can support you to access the $250 bonus here.


Get Active Kids Voucher

The Get Active Kids voucher program helps eligible families engage their children in organised sport and recreation activities by reimbursing the cost of membership and registration fees, uniforms and equipment. Eligible children may be able to receive up to $200 each.

For more information or to apply, click here.


In The News: Encouraging Independence in Young Adults with Disability

As children with disability develop into adulthood, there are many ways we can support them to become more independent and have an appropriate level of autonomy and control over their lives. In this new blog for Source Kids, the team at Endeavour Foundation explores some of the key areas to consider as your child approaches adulthood.

Read the blog.

Blog: Source Kids


Member Competition: Some Brains - A Celebration of Neurodiversity

This month on our videocast Conversations with Carers Victoria we were joined by comedian, author and carer Nelly Thomas. If you missed the episode, you can watch the recording here.

We’re giving our members the chance to win one of three copies of Nelly’s book Some Brains – A Celebration of Neurodiversity.

For your chance to win, watch the videocast and tell us the name of two of Nelly’s books.

Email the book titles, along with your name, membership number and postal address to membership@carersvictoria.org.au

Not a member yet? Sign up here for free to access more special offers, events and the latest news for carers.   

 

 

Welcome to the June edition of The Voice

Restrictions continue to ease in Victoria after the latest COVID-19 outbreak. Scroll down for a summary of the current restrictions and an update on the vaccine rollout.

After launching our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) last month, we held a very special episode of Conversations with Carers Victoria in June to discuss our RAP in more detail. You can find a link to the videocast below.

This month we're inviting carers to take part in an Aboriginal-led tour of Melbourne CBD to celebrate NAIDOC Week. You'll be led by local Koorie guides as you discover some of the most culturally significant areas of the city. Places on the tour will be extremely limited, so express your interest today.   

Carers Victoria ambassador Julie Fisher recently released a new book titled The Magic of Inclusion, about how even the smallest acts of inclusion can have a great impact on someone's life. To celebrate the release, we're giving away three copies of Julie's first book The Unexpected Journey. Keep reading to find out how you can score a copy.

Finally, congratulations to Ballarat dementia advocate Anne Tudor who was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to people living with dementia and their supporters earlier this month. Anne is also a great supporter of Carers Victoria and we were thrilled to learn she had been awarded this prestigious Medal.  

Happy reading
The Carers Victoria Team


COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Australia has changed the recommended age group for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to 60 and over after updated advice from the Federal Government’s expert immunisation panel. Previously, the recommended age group for the AstraZeneca vaccine was over 50. Health Minister Greg Hunt advised Pfizer was now the preferred vaccine for under-60s and the government would immediately move to open access for 40- to 59-year-olds. People who have had one dose of AstraZeneca are still encouraged to get their second dose of this vaccine.

For the latest news about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout click here


COVID-19 Restrictions Update

Restrictions continue to ease in Victoria after the latest COVID-19 outbreak.

New measures include:

  • You can now have up to 15 people in your home per day;
  • Work from home recommendations have been removed;
  • Public gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed.

Masks must continue to be worn indoors unless you have an exemption. For a full outline of the changes visit the Victorian Government's Coronavirus website


Carer Friendly Neighbourhood Houses 

Carers Victoria is thrilled to be launching the state-wide Carer Friendly program in partnership with Neighbourhood Houses Victoria.

The Carer Friendly program involves Neighbourhood House staff and volunteers undertaking a series of online learning modules which focus on a range of areas such as identifying carers, services available to carers, carer benefits and more.  

Once the modules are completed, the Neighbourhood House will receive a Carer Friendly decal to display on their front window, signalling to carers that they are welcomed, and that the neighbourhood house is a safe space to share their experiences and seek support.

Read more


Reconciliation Action Plan: Reflect

This month we shared our first Reconciliation Action Plan: Reflect (RAP) in a special episode of Conversations with Carers Victoria. The RAP forms an integral part of our commitment to reconciliation and to supporting and working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through our core business activities. You can watch the recording here.

We invite carers to reflect on what they can do to contribute to reconciliation. As guest speaker Charmaine Vanderbeek, General Manager of Carer Services, said it’s important that we are authentic in our commitment to reconciliation, and we each need to find something that speaks to each of us as reconciliation is everyone’s business. This could include activities such as finding ways to connect to culture and language, following First Nations media, and signing the Raise the Age petition to raise the age of criminal responsibility (the age children can go to jail) from 10 to 14 years old.


NAIDOC Week

To celebrate NAIDOC Week 2021, which takes place 4 – 11 July, Carers Victoria has organised an Aboriginal-led walking tour for carers through some of the most culturally significant areas of Melbourne's CBD. With experienced Koorie guides, you’ll learn how the land on which Melbourne is located has changed over time and about the significance of Birrarung Wilam to the local Kulin peoples. Find out more and express your interest in this event here. Please note, places will be limited.


Communities of Practice: Carer Support Group Facilitators

The Carers Victoria Communities of Practice for Carer Support Group Facilitators have been meeting over the past few months. The intention of these groups is to foster a space where local Carer Support Group facilitators come together and build relationships to form a community that shares knowledge, common challenges and solutions. There are multiple Communities of Practice across the state for both volunteer and paid facilitators, and they each meet five times throughout the year.

To register your interest click here.  


Research Update: The Experience of Carers in Relation to Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

A recent study by Deakin University in partnership with Carers Victoria showed the experiences of carers when the person receiving care uses non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI).

Many young people who struggle with powerful emotions engage in NSSI as a way of managing their feelings and cope with difficulties. These young people are significantly more likely to receive professional help when a family member is aware of their self-harm. 

This study investigated how carers discover that the person they care for is engaging in self-harm, and whether the carer sought help after this event. 

Key findings from the research included:

  • The discovery of NSSI was a shocking and overwhelming experience for mothers, which prompted them to draw on their own instincts, knowledge about NSSI, knowledge of how to assist with injury, as well as their own broader coping resources, in order to respond to their child.
  • Parents face significant barriers in finding, accessing and maintaining contact with professional services for their child.
  • Having an awareness of NSSI and of mental health services prior to the discovery of their child’s NSSI, as well as previous experiences in managing crises, influenced parents’ approaches to seeking help.
  • Challenges in remaining engaged with services included: the young person refusing to engage; cost of services; availability; staff turnover; service inflexibility; and lack of service inclusiveness regarding parental involvement.

The need for inclusive, compassionate and strengths-based responses from professionals working with the person receiving care was a strong message from the participants.

The results from this research will be written up for mental health literature, presented at conferences, and distributed to services which support carers of people who self-injure.

Carers Victoria was pleased to be able to connect carers with researchers from Deakin University. Thank you to all the carers who took part in this study.


Victorian Disability Workers Registration

Voluntary registration of Victorian disability workers starts on 1 July. It is the first of its kind in Australia and provides rigorous standards for safety, skills and professionalism.

Registration makes it easier for workers to show their commitment to their work in disability, and for people seeking services to find workers they know have been independently assessed as safe, skilled and professional.

Everyone living with disability deserves a safe choice. Registration supports increased professionalisation in disability work, because it’s work that matters.

Find out more


Conversations with Carers Victoria

Have you checked out our videocast Conversations with Carers Victoria yet? Join us every Wednesday at 2pm for valuable information about the caring role from Carers Victoria staff, other carers and service providers; as well as great ideas to help you look after your health and wellbeing.  

On Wednesday 14 July we’ll welcome Australian comedian and author Nelly Thomas to Conversations with Carers Victoria. Nelly’s recent book Some Brains: A Book Celebrating Neurodiversity is a heart-warming and funny picture book that starts from the premise that neurodiversity (brain differences like Autism, ADHD and Dyslexia) is an essential part of human biodiversity. Some Brains encourages us all to look for our strengths and to understand that brains are like fingerprints – uniquely, wonderfully ours. Find out more about the book here: For more info - Some Brains — Some Kids Books.

Missed a few episodes? No problem! Visit our Facebook page to catch up on all of our previous episodes, including our recent chat about the NDIS Kids Connect program with Carers Victoria’s own Michele Semmens. Carers Victoria’s NDIS Kids Connect program provides information, linkage, and online workshops to assist families with a child under 7 years old with a disability or developmental delay to successfully transition and connect to the NDIS. Watch the full episode of this special edition of the videocast here.

Join us on Facebook or Zoom every Wednesday at 2pm. Or join via telephone Phone +61 3 7018 2005 and enter the meeting ID: 996 2213 5610 followed by #


Brunch and Walking Groups in the West

Carers Victoria’s brunch and walking groups in the West are back. These groups provide carers an opportunity to unwind, connect with other carers and find out about support and services. The groups are open to carers living in the areas of Hobsons Bay, Brimbank and Caroline Springs.

Register now

Times:

  • The Werribee Walking Group meets on the third Tuesday of the month at 10.00am – 11.00am for a walk followed by a catch up at a local café
  • The Hobsons Brunch Group meets on the first Monday of the month at 10.00am – 11.00am for brunch
  • The Brimbank Brunch Group meets first Thursday of the month 10.00am – 11.00am for brunch
  • The Caroline Springs Walking Group meets on the first Wednesday of the month 10.00am – 11.00am for a walk followed by a catch up at a local café

In the news: Advocate Anne Tudor Awarded Queen’s Birthday Honour

Carers Victoria would like to congratulate Ballarat dementia advocate Anne Tudor who was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to people living with dementia and their supporters. Anne said she was "profoundly moved" by her recognition in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours List, which coincided with the first anniversary of her wife's death.

Read the article in The Age here.

Article: Eleanor Wilson for The Age

Image: Anne Tudor via The Age


Giveaway: The Unexpected Journey by Julie Fisher

Carers Victoria’s Carer Champion Julie Fisher has just released a second book, The Magic of Inclusion. As a mum of a child with Down Syndrome, Julie knows firsthand the heartbreak of seeing your child be made to feel like they don’t belong. She has also experienced the flipside, where acceptance and inclusion can make magic happen, and has made it her passion to educate others on how even the smallest acts of inclusion can have impacts on the lives of others. In her book, Julie shares real-life stories that demonstrate why we must promote inclusion not just in groups, clubs, and organisations, but also in our everyday interactions with others. The Magic of Inclusion shows us how the simple act of including others can be life-changing. 

To celebrate the release of The Magic of Inclusion we have three copies of Julie’s first book The Unexpected Journey, to giveaway.

For your chance to win, tell us in 25 words or less one thing that individuals could do everyday to create a more inclusive society. Email your response, along with your name and postal address to ebulletin@carersvictoria.org.au

Please note, only winners will be contacted.

 

 

Welcome to the May edition of The Voice.

Carers Victoria was proud to launch our first ever Reconciliation Action Plan this month. Read on for some highlights of the morning and to find out more about the actions we are taking towards reconciliation.

The State Budget was announced last week. Read on for a summary and how this budget may affect carers.

People aged 50 years and over are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines. To find out where you can get vaccinated and how to book in, check out the article below.

We’re featuring a number of research projects in this edition, so if you would like to share your experiences as a carer, check out the opportunities below.

Happy reading
The Carers Victoria Team


Carers Victoria Launches First Reconciliation Action Plan

This month Carers Victoria staff gathered at Footscray Community Arts Centre to launch our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP): Reflect. Staff heard stories and took part in an interactive performance from Nartarsha Bamblett and heard from local Aboriginal artist Mandi Barton who produced the cover art for our RAP. We then enjoyed morning tea by local business Mabu Mabu.

Carers Victoria has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and businesses over many years, however our Reconciliation Action Plan is our first coordinated, whole-of-organisation approach to reconciliation. It shows our commitment to concrete, measurable actions.  We look forward to continuing to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and to further demonstrating our commitment to reconciliation.

If you are planning a visit to our office, we invite you to check out the artwork produced for us by Mandi Barton, which hangs in our reception area. The artwork tells the story of the intersections between caring and community.

To read our Reconciliation Action Plan, click here.


State Budget Announcement

Carers Victoria is pleased to see that “Caring for Victorians” is a headline from the Victorian Government’s 2021-22 budget. We welcome the focus on wellbeing and early intervention.

We look forward to partnering with government and departments to ensure implementation will benefit the over 700,000 Victorians who are carers.

The following are some key initiatives in this budget.

Mental Health:

  • The first of a ten-year program to rebuild the system. Exciting to see $93 million to provide dedicated support for families and carers.
  • Of this, $54.5 million will be for eight family and carer led centres across the state by end of 2022. We look forward these centres focusing on the mental health of all carers.

Education:

  • A $383.8 million investment in skills, training and higher education. This includes an investment of $88.8 million to provide subsidised VET courses to eligible students.

Housing:

  • $193 million to support people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, including
    $110 million for the Private Rental Assistance Program.

Financial services:

  • $14.6 million for ‘Good Money’ hubs, including an expansion into phone-based and digital services.
  • The enhanced Good Money service is expected to deliver 11,500 no-interest loans over four years, helping approximately 25,000 Victorians with a low-income.

Click here to see a full overview. 


Humans of Carers Victoria: Naomi

Our son came to us through Permanent Care - a Victorian government program for kids who are unable to live with their biological families. By around three years of age we noticed he was not developing typically and we eventually had a diagnosis of a chromosome deletion with associated intellectual disability and other issues including language axpraxia. I have been his carer since then.

He is now 11 years old. Our daughter, who came along two years after our son arrived, has just now at eight years old been given a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and developmental delay. This is another caring role.

The days are busy: therapies and appointments, chasing NDIS reports and payments, and my volunteering roles at both of their schools, as well as the usual household work that caring for two kids with additional challenges means. We are a family involved in our local community - scouts, dancing and the local radio station; activities that take effort and energy if we want our kids to make the most of their opportunities. And swimming, piano lessons and Little Aths when it’s in season!

The days are not dull. My partner leaves for work around 6am and usually gets home to help with the later after school stuff - but he is busy too. He is a Joey Scout leader and enjoys presenting a weekly radio program.

This year I’m studying. It feels good to do something that interests me, and while it relates to the various governance roles to which I’m committed, it also challenges me to be writing and researching at that level once again.

I haven’t had paid employment in 10 years... and it has taken me a while to reconcile that I probably never will. While I find my world challenging and all-consuming, I do miss the defined expectations and outcomes of a formal workplace. There is definitely not much that is defined or expected about daily life around our home! Sometimes just getting everyone dressed appropriately and out the door is the best I can achieve!

I have a real problem with the advice given to carer’s to ‘take a break’ or ‘find time for you’, it feels disingenuous - as if you can simply switch off life and do something else. We do check-in with each other and try very hard to take care of our mental health. And we do factor in a break away every year. Thank goodness for my mum’s help. I am conscious that offer will not be around for much longer as grandparents get older. We are grateful to have their support wherever possible.

As ageing parents of primary school aged kids... we’re weary. But we keep on keeping on.


Carers and the COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Need To Know

This week we held a special edition of our weekly videocast Conversations with Carers Victoria with guest presenter Professor Steve Trumble, Head of Medical Education at the University of Melbourne Medical School, to answer your questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine rollout.

The videocast is now available to watch here.


COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Update

It’s easier than ever to get the COVID-19 vaccine – and everyone aged 50 and over is eligible for AstraZeneca now.

Getting vaccinated helps protect you, and the people you care about, from getting sick from COVID-19. The vaccines being used in Australia are effective at preventing serious illness and loss of life from COVID-19.

This month more vaccination centres opened across Victoria. There are now 23 centres offering COVID-19 vaccines to Victorians. While some of these centres offer walk-in appointments, many require bookings. To book an appointment at a vaccination centre call 1800 675 398 and follow the prompts. Anyone aged 50 and over can also receive a vaccine through their GP. Visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker to find a nearby GP clinic.

The vaccines are safe and free.

As part of Phase 1b, Carers (paid and unpaid) of the following groups are now eligible:

  • a resident of an aged care facility or residential disability accommodation who is eligible under phase 1a
  • a person 70 years and over who is eligible under phase 1b
  • a person with a disability
  • a person with a specified underlying medical condition who is eligible under phase 1b
  • a child with a specified underlying medical condition
  • See COVID-19 vaccination program Phase 1b for further details
  • Some disability and aged care support volunteers who provide support to people in their homes, respite care, education, employment, leisure and/or residential settings, including those providing transport and advocacy services.

If you are aged 50 years and over, you can now access the AstraZeneca vaccine through a State vaccination clinic or your GP (see below).

If you are under 50 years of age, you will be eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine by booking at a State vaccination clinic (see below).

To find out if you are eligible call 1800 020 080 or click here.

If you are a carer you will need to provide evidence of your eligibility when getting your vaccine. If you don’t have the required documentation you can download an eligibility declaration form here.

People living in disability accommodation services will be offered vaccination through an in reach service from the Australian Government.

Your general practitioner or healthcare provider can talk to you about the risks and benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine to help you make an informed choice about what’s best for you.

It is recommended you wait at least 14 days between your flu vaccine and your COVID-19 vaccine.

For general information about COVID-19 vaccines click here.


IDAHOBIT Day

Monday 17 May marked International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) and this year’s theme was Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing.

IDAHOBIT is a day on which people all over the world celebrate the resilience of LGBTQIA+ communities and draw attention to the changes we need to see in the fight against discrimination.

Carers Victoria staff celebrated IDAHOBIT over a delicious morning tea, information sharing and a quiz.

Carers Victoria is proud to be a Rainbow Tick accredited organisation and is committed to safe and inclusive practice and service delivery for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse and intersex consumers and staff.

To find out more about IDAHOBIT click here. 


Mandatory Minimum Accessibility Standards for Residential Housing

Commonwealth, state and territory Building Ministers this month agreed to adopt mandatory minimum accessibility standards for residential housing and apartments in the National Construction Code (NCC) 2022 based on the Liveable Housing Design Guidelines (LHDG) silver standards. This means that new homes will now include features such as step free entry, step free showers, ground level accessible toilets, structural reinforcements to support grab rail installation in bathrooms and for doorways, and transitional spaces to allow ease of movement.

While each state and territory is free to determine “whether and how the new provisions will be applied in their jurisdiction to minimise the regulatory impact on the construction sector”, Carers Victoria is pleased to see the Victorian government seeking a lead role in working with other jurisdictions and industry to support the implementation of the standard.

Carers Victoria advocated for this change back in 2018, stating that the voluntary adoption of standards was not producing enough housing stock suitable for older people and people with disability.

Welcome to the April edition of The Voice

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, now is the perfect time to sign up for our Membership program to gain access to a range of exclusive offers and discounts at major retailers. Membership is free for carers and supporters. Find out more below.

Face-to-face workshops for carers and professionals are officially back and we can’t wait to wait to see your faces in person again. Workshops can take place at our office or we can arrange to come to you.

The COVID-19 Vaccine rollout continues in Victoria, and the Government has released a number of useful resources to help you understand your eligibility for the vaccine, and when you can be vaccinated. Read the digest below.  

We are now taking expressions of interest for two of our popular wellbeing programs: Carer Wellbeing and Connection, and Mind the Step. Keep reading to find out if you are eligible.  

Happy reading
The Carers Victoria Team


Join our Caring Community

Have you joined our Caring Community? It’s free to join for carers and supporters, and you’ll get access to a range of benefits including exclusive invitations to events, opportunities to champion real change and special member offers.

Join up today to access our members-only Club Shopper program and get discounts on a range of great brands for Mother’s Day including The Good Guys, Booktopia and Freedom.

Join Now


COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

COVID-19 vaccinations are currently rolling out across Australia. Unpaid carers are eligible for vaccines under phase 1B (the current rollout phase). To confirm your eligibility, fill out the eligibility checker here.

The Australian Government has recently released vaccine information in accessible formats - Easy Read and Auslan. This accessible content covers questions such as what is the vaccine, who can get it, where, and what to expect. You can find it here.

Further information about the COVID-19 vaccines for people with disability can be found here.

For general information about the rollout visit the Department of Health website.


Update: Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System

Last month, the Victorian government released the Final Report from the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System. Carers Victoria has since developed a summary analysis of the Final Report, including what we like and what can be improved to better support the mental health of all carers.

Our analysis gives a snapshot of the new proposed mental health system and explains the three key recommendations for carers:

  • Recommendation 30: Developing system-wide involvement of family members and carers;
  • Recommendation 31: Supporting families, carers and supporters; and
  • Recommendation 32: Supporting young carers.

Carers Victoria was pleased to see an overall vision in the Final Report of a system that says "How can we help?". The Commission identifies the expertise of carers and that this has been neglected. The vision for the new system will see carers being recognised and valued, as well as supported both in their role as a carer and in their own right. 

To read the summary analysis, click here.       

 


Face-to-Face Workshops are Back

Ready to book a workshop for carers or your staff?  Our education team is now taking bookings for face-to-face workshops in our offices or yours. Visit our website [link] to find out what’s on offer or email your enquiry to education@carersvictoria.org.au

Keen to stay online? Zoom workshops are still taking place. Find out more here


Changes to Victorian Rental Rules 

More than 130 reforms to Victorian rental rules have recently been introduced. These include changes relating to eviction, capping rent increases, minimum standards for rental properties, ending discrimination and urgent repairs.

The key changes for tenants to understand are:

 

Eviction:

Renters can no longer be evicted for no reason. A “valid reason” is required which may be the property being sold, change of use or the owner moving back in. As a renter, you are allowed to challenge a “Notice to Vacate” if you don’t think the reason is valid.

 

Minimum Standards:

Owners must ensure the property meets “minimum standards” which includes cleanliness, security and privacy.

 

Urgent Repairs:

When a property fails to meet minimum standards, renters can request an “urgent repair” for situations such as a broken cooling appliance, mould, pest infestation or malfunctioning smoke alarm.

 

Rent Increases:

Rent can only be increased once a year.

 

Discrimination:

It is against the law for owners to discriminate against renters based on personal attributes such as age, race, sexuality, or disability.

 

No Deception:

Rental properties can only be offered at a fixed price (no “bidding”). Owners cam no longer mislead someone to enter into a rental agreement.

 

Basic Modifications:

As a tenant, you can now make basic modifications to the rental property including installing child safety devices or replacing curtains. Other modifications that an owner can’t “unreasonably refuse” include putting in a vegetable or herb garden, installing security systems or flyscreens and painting.

 

Family violence:

Tenants experiencing family violence are now able to change or terminate their rental agreement, and won’t be held liable for damages in some circumstances.

 

Overdue Rent:

If a tenant is more than 14 days overdue in rent payments, the owner can issue a “Notice to Vacate”, however if the tenant pays the overdue rent within 14 days, this Notice is invalidated. 


Midsumma Festival

After being delayed due to the pandemic, the Midsumma queer arts and culture festival is on now and will continue until 5 May. Visit the virtual stalls map to find out more about a range of LGBTIQA+ supporting organisations and businesses, including Carers Victoria.

If in-person events are more your speed, visit the What’s On page to find upcoming events.


Young Carers Scholarship Awards

Thank you to the more than 60 young carers who applied for Young Carer Scholarships. Our Selection Panel is meeting soon and we will let all the young carers know the outcome of their application by 31 May 2021.

We would like to acknowledge all the remarkable young carers out there who contribute to their families and communities.


Carers Victoria Team News: Trans Day of Visibility

Trans Day of Visibility is an annual international celebration of trans pride and awareness, recognising trans and gender diverse experiences and achievements. On 31 March, the Carers Victoria team discussed the importance of Trans Day of Visibility over morning tea.

Carers Victoria is proud to be a Rainbow Tick accredited organisation and is committed to safe and inclusive practice and service delivery for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse and intersex consumers and staff.


VALE: Gweneth Elaine McCarthy

Carers Victoria would like to acknowledge the life and generosity of Gweneth Elaine McCarthy (nee Hornett).

Gwen was member number nine and a founding member of Carers Victoria. She served as a Carers Victoria Board member from 1994 – 2000 and was an Honorary Member of Carers Victoria until her passing. We would like to extend our condolences to Gwen’s husband Peter and family and acknowledge the extraordinary contribution Gwen made to Carers Victoria as an organisation and ultimately for carers.

May she rest in peace knowing her work continues to inspire us today as we work together to make carers lives better.

Gweneth Elaine McCarthy 8 August 1930 – 4 July 2020

 

 

Welcome to The Voice

The Easter break is fast approaching, but things are not slowing down here at Carers Victoria.

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has now commenced and alongside our national peak body, Carers Australia, Carers Victoria has been advocating for carers to be prioritised in the rollout. Scroll down to find out more about when you can receive your vaccine.

This month we attended the Joint Sitting of Parliament for the tabling of the Final Report from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. To find out more about the recommendations from this report, read on. 

If you get some spare time this long weekend, be sure to check out the workshops we have coming up. You can find a list for April below, or visit our website

Please note our office will be closed on the Good Friday and Easter Monday public holidays and will re-open on Tuesday 6 April. 

We hope you have a relaxing long weekend. 


The 2020 Annual Review Has Landed

The year 2020 brought “unprecedented” challenges for carers. The COVID-19 pandemic and a shifting carer services landscape saw Carers Victoria having to quickly shift the ways we work and provide services for carers.

The 2020 Annual Review is a time capsule of the year that was, and a celebration of what we achieved for carers. It also includes several carer stories from our Truly Incredible Care campaign.

You can listen to our Interim CEO Sue Peden AM and Chair of the Board Callum Ingram discussing the Annual Review by clicking here.

Get your copy of the 2020 Annual Review here.


COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Update  

Last week the Department of Health released a webinar explaining the 1B phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, including the response for carers. You can watch it now here

The eligibility list for the COVID-19 Vaccine has been updated and now includes unpaid carers. To find out if you are eligible call 1800 020 080 or click here.

If you are a carer and are struggling to provide evidence of your caring role, you can now fill out a declaration form here.

For general information about the rollout click here.


Update: Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

Carers Victoria was proud to attend the Joint Sitting of Parliament for the tabling of the Final Report from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

Commissioner Armytage acknowledged that the “views of families are too often dismissed”. The new mental health system will be one where “consumers, families and carers will lead and partner in reform”.

Chair of the Expert Advisory Panel Professor McGorry stated the report contains “strong recommendations for families and carers” as “families are often the only safety net” for people experiencing mental illness.

Premier Daniel Andrews again reiterated that the government would implement all of the recommendations made by the Commission. Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said that in their lifetime “every Victorian will either have a mental illness or care for someone that does.”

The Commission acknowledged the diversity of care relationships. Including caring across the lifespan, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers, culturally and linguistically diverse carers and LGBTIQA+ carers.

Carers Victoria welcomes the three recommendations focused on families, carers and supporters. We are greatly encouraged that the Commission has recognised carers throughout its duration and this is reflected in the report. We look forward to working together to creating the mental health system articulated in this report.

To download the full report click here


Join our Caring Community: Become a Member Today

Carers Victoria is re-launching its membership program for carers, former carers and supporters. There are a number of great reasons to join our caring community, including:

  • Exclusive invitations to events and workshops;
  • Special offers and discounts;
  • Championing the voice of carers;
  • Free sign-up for individuals.

Sign up to be the first to hear about events such as our recent Members Family Day at Melbourne Zoo, which saw around 400 carers and family members gather for a fun day out and opportunity to socialise with other caring families.

Members also get exclusive access to our ClubShopper program for discounts on a number of major brands including The Good Guys, Freedom Furniture, Booktopia and Pharmacy Online.

If you’re an existing member and would like to sign up for ClubShopper email membership@carersvictoria.org.au

Become a member here.


Young Carer Scholarship: Applications Now Open

Applications for Carers Victoria Young Carer Scholarships are now open.

Do you know a young person with caring responsibilities? Over 71,600 young people in Victoria are believed to have significant care responsibilities. Many are at risk of dropping out of school, or have difficulty establishing social networks and participating in activities that their peers enjoy.

Carers Victoria's Young Carer scholarships give young carers attending secondary school the opportunity to be acknowledged for their contributions to their family and the community and to participate in school or community based activities that enhance their skills and educational achievement, or that help them to participate more fully in their community.

If you know a young carer, encourage them to apply here.


Supporting Carers to Succeed in Australian Higher Education

A new report by La Trobe University recommends a strengths-based approach to supporting university student carers. The report is the result of research, conducted in collaboration with Carers Victoria, which explored the motivations, perceived challenges, and self-identified strengths of university student carers.

The research found a quarter of student carers never disclosed their carer status to anyone at university. This shows the importance of increasing awareness and understanding of carers within the university community.

“[I was] trying to present myself well on placements to educators who may not fully know or understand my role as a carer and judge my fatigue/tiredness as poor effort or knowledge deficit.” – Student carer.

There are clear grounds to establish student carers as a priority group within Australian higher education.

Further efforts to recognise and support carers could include developing consistent means of identifying carers at application or enrolment, and an increase in carer-specific support, such as the establishment of online peer support groups.

Universities could develop more inclusive campus climates, in which the strengths of carers can be recognised and harnessed. Carers offer many skills and attributes which are desirable to universities, as exemplified in this quote.

“Other students have benefitted from my heightened empathy, as I will always offer assistance, even when it isn't asked for. Other staff, lecturers and tutors have benefitted from my resilience and confidence, as I will offer my insight for the class when others are shy.” – Student carer

Read the full report here.


Mind the Step: April Dates Now Available

Are you caring for a friend or family member?

Are you feeling uncertain, stressed or anxious?

Do you want to feel more connected?

Let’s talk.

Carers Victoria is delivering Mind the Step, a FREE four-week online program for carers who feel they would benefit from building their personal resilience and connecting with others in similar situations. The program is facilitated by qualified counsellors via Zoom for 90 minutes each week to support carers in Western Victoria.  Participant numbers are kept small to provide a safe and supportive environment.

If you’d like to enrich your mental health and wellbeing, build awareness or resources and support services and feel more empowered as a carer, register your interest for Mind the Step. The program is for anyone living in Western Victoria who is in a caring role.

To learn more about the program click here


New Accessible Parking Permit Scheme

From 22 March, a new Accessible Parking Permit scheme will be introduced across Victoria. The new scheme is designed to create fairer outcomes and free up accessible parking bays for the people who need them the most.

The main changes for drivers with disabilities or injuries are that:

  • You’ll need to start the application or renewal process online, before you visit the doctor
  • Accessible parking permits will be extended from three to five years
  • People with permanent disabilities will no longer need to be re-assessed in the future

Visit accessibleparking.vic.gov.au for more information about the change or for help in completing your application.


COVID-19 Support Package for Mental Health Carers

Tandem is partnering with Merri Health to deliver Carer Gateway COVID-19 Mental Health packages to carers supporting family and friends with mental health challenges.

Packages are targeted to carers who are not eligible to receive the Area Mental Health Services Carer Support Fund and who are not receiving services from the Victorian Support for Carers program.

The Program can provide relief for food, fuel or equipment such as a laptop.

All COVID-19 Mental Health Packages are linked to the Carer Gateway and Tandem will make a referral to the Carer Gateway on your behalf.

To find out more or to make a referral contact Tandem on 1800 314 325.


In the News: Improving Communication with your Child’s Specialists and Therapists

Having clear communication between you and your child’s therapist can have huge impacts on your child’s development, and make life much easier for you as a carer. Source Kids have put together a guide of practical things you can do to improve communication and your relationship with your child’s therapist.   

Read the article here.

Did you know Carers Victoria regularly runs a workshop on communicating with professionals? Keep an eye on our training calendar to find out when the next session will run here.

Image: Source Kids

Join our Caring Community

Have you joined our Caring Community? It’s free to join for carers and supporters, and you’ll get access to a range of benefits including exclusive invitations to events, opportunities to champion real change and special member offers.

Join now. 

Zumba Fundraiser for Carers Victoria

Congratulations and thank you to Sandra Battres and Monica Buttigieg for running a very successful Zumba fundraiser for Carers Victoria in Tullamarine earlier this month. Attendees had a great workout, plenty of fun and raised more than $1000 to help support the work we do for carers.  

Community of Practice: Carer Support Groups

Are you a Carer Support Group Facilitator?

Carers Victoria has launched a Community of Practice series for carer support groups facilitators. These sessions will give you the opportunity to connect with other facilitators, share experience, skills and knowledge. Discussion topics will include group membership and promotion, ways to get the money you need, facilitation skills and managing logistics. To register to attend the group, please fill out this form and we will send you the event details.

In The News: Carers Should Receive Taxpayer-Funded Super 

An article in The Age this month argued that carers should be given taxpayer-funded superannuation payments to close the gender retirement gap.

Actuaries wish to extend the 9.5% superannuation guarantee to unpaid carers after warnings from super funds that low and middle income-earners are at risk of insecure retirements.

“They provide care the government would otherwise have to pay for,” Mercer senior partner and actuary David Knox said. “They shouldn’t be penalised for their retirement at the same time.”

Read the full article here.

Authors: Jennifer Duke and Noel Towell