A new strategy launched last week will provide greater support for Victorian carers over the next four years.
The Victorian Carer Strategy 2018-22 was launched by the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, Martin Foley and Parliamentary Secretary for Carers and Volunteers, Gabrielle Williams, to recognise the invaluable role of carers.
“This strategy and our additional funding will help our carers enjoy a better quality of life, improved health and stay connected to their local communities,” Minister Foley says.
The key pillars of the strategy include greater access to support groups, financial services and transport and improved identification and help for young carers.
To help deliver the Victorian Carer Strategy, the Labor Government will invest an additional $1.2 million towards extra respite, school holiday programs and support for young carers and carers of people with mental illness.
Ms Williams says the strategy will provide positive outcomes for young carers who wish to further their education while undertaking a carer role.
“Carers have told us what they need and this important strategy means that over time, all Victorian carers have the support and services they need and want, no matter where they live or their age,” she says.
“We will be working with education providers to establish proactive and flexible support arrangements so young carers can continue to participate in primary, secondary and tertiary education and training.”
Carers Australia Chief Executive Officer, Scott Walker says the whole-of-Government approach will ensure carers are respected, valued and supported while enjoying equal rights, choices and opportunities.
“Today’s Victorian Carer Strategy wonderfully reflects the diversity of Victoria’s 736,000 carers. It [ The Victorian Carer Strategy] highlights that carers come from all walks of life,” he says.
“Carers Victoria is very pleased to see these widespread carers concerns have been picked up in each of the five priorities - recognition, acknowledgement and respect, health and wellbeing, participation in the workforce, schooling and study, access to support and services and financial security.”
Over the last 12 months, Carers Victoria conducted a stakeholder engagement program to inform the strategy, where over 30 consultation workshops held with carers, service providers and peak agency representatives saw input from 300 carers in-person and 1,300 surveys submitted online.
In Victoria alone more than 736,000 carers provide their time, effort and love to a family member or friend in need, with the work of carers contributing $15 billion to the economy each year.
Mel Spencer, a carer for Carers Victoria knows firsthand the challenges of putting the needs of others before your own, describing the sudden new demands of being a carer “hard, exhausting, and 24/7”.
She says the right help, support and recognition outlined in the Victorian Carer Strategy 2018-22 will go a long way in reducing the social isolation, potential mental health problems and poverty often faced by carers.
Ms Spencer tells how the role of a carer is a “rocky road” and is often rewarding, however, carers also experience loneliness and a loss of identity.
“Personally, I have had to change my outlook and focus on being grateful for the little things and tiny milestones. If I didn’t, my life would look a lot different,” she says.
“We need people to stand up and speak for us - for often it is when we can’t. We need to know that people are on our side, that we matter and someone is looking out for us,” she says.
“This is why it is important that the State Government is making inroads in recognising us and trying to put steps in place to support us.”
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