The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has released its most recent research on the Economic Cost of Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability. This research estimates that maltreatment of people with disability due to lack of inclusive homes and communities costs $4.7 billion per year.
The research also highlights that the financial impact of this maltreatment is adversely affecting carers. Where people with disability lack sufficient access to housing, transport and community infrastructure, carers often take on the time and material costs of this maltreatment in order to support the family member or friend they are caring for. This restricts carers’ opportunities to achieve greater economic wellbeing and long-term financial sustainability.
The contribution Australia’s 2.65 million unpaid carers make can already come at a great cost – whether that is measured in terms of their employment opportunities, education prospects, income and physical and mental health.
The ‘Caring Costs Us: The economic impact on lifetime income and retirement savings of informal carers’ report found that in 2021 on average a person who becomes a primary carer will loose $567,500 in in lifetime earnings and superannuation at age 67. Further, income support through the Carer Payment is less than 30% of the average weekly earnings.
“These figures show the stark reality that carers are bearing the brunt alongside people with disability. However, these findings aren’t new to us” said Carers Australia CEO, Alison Brook. “We urge the government to be proactive and invest in initiatives that will recognise and support carers as well as those people living with disability who are subject to the overall cost of housing and community maltreatment.”
In the face of rising cost-of-living pressures, the ongoing jobs and skills crisis, and growing, unresolved pressures on Australia’s healthcare, disability support and social service systems, vulnerable communities have never been in more need of support. This includes carers.
“We can see through the 2021 and 2022 Carer Wellbeing Survey results that carers continue to be at very high risk of poor wellbeing and overall health. We also know that the intensity of caring has increased throughout COVID-19, and that carers were 1.7 times more likely to experience significant financial stress compared to other Australians”, said Ms Brook.
The Disability Royal Commission report also notes the lack of current and sufficient data, which they say is limiting comprehensive costing estimates and the development of appropriate policy responses.
“I urge all carers to complete the 2023 Carer Wellbeing Survey. Share your experience – past and present – of being a carer and help us build an evidence base to strengthen carer advocacy and shape national policy.”
“The Government is taking huge steps in reducing barriers to employment, reforming the aged care, mental health and disability sectors, building a more inclusive and accessible society, and addressing cost of living pressures. However, it is imperative they acknowledge that maltreatment and inequality cannot be addressed without clear leadership within Government and an absolute awareness of the diversity of caring relationships, the diversity of carers, and the diversity of people being cared for, said Ms Brook.
Carers Australia’s 2023-24 Federal Budget Submission outlines the key options for Government to consider. Central to this for the Albanese Government to confirm the pre-election commitment to develop a National Carer Strategy within its first term.
The 2023 Carer Wellbeing Survey can be accessed through the Carers Australia website until 31 March 2023.
About Carers Australia and the National Carer Network
Carers Australia is the national peak body representing Australia’s carers, advocating to influence policies and services at a national level. The National Carer Network, which consists of Carers NSW, Carers ACT, Carers Victoria, Carers Tasmania, Carers SA, Carers WA, Carers NT, and Carers Queensland, deliver a range of essential carer
services across states and territories.
An informal, unpaid carer is a family member or friend that cares for someone that has a disability, chronic or life-limiting illness, is frail aged, has a mental health illness, or alcohol or other drug related issue. Informal carers are distinct from paid support workers who are colloquially also called carers but are fully employed and remunerated with all the benefits of employment. Conversely, family and friend carers perform their caring duties without