About carers

3 minute read

Anyone can be a carer.

Many people don’t see themselves as carers. They are just children, parents, partners, relatives or friends who care for someone close to them.

You may be a carer if you are looking after someone with disability, a medical condition, mental illness or who is frail due to age.

If you are a carer, you can get help and support from the government and other organisations.

Who are carers?

Carers are people who look after someone who needs help with their day-to-day living.

There are more than 2.65 million carers in Australia, which means about 1 in 9 people in Australia are carers.

People become carers in different ways. Sometimes they start helping someone out bit by bit. Sometimes it happens suddenly, because of an accident or illness.

Carers can be any age. Children and young adults (under 25 years of age) are called young carers. There are more than 235,000 young carers in Australia. If you are a young carer, you may be able to get special help and support.

The definition for carer (under the Australian Government Carer Recognition Act 2010) is someone who gives care and support to a relative or friend who:

  • has a disability
  • has a medical condition (terminal or chronic illness)
  • has a mental illness
  • is frail because they are old (known as ‘frail and aged’)

You are not considered to be a carer if you are employed to look after someone, if you work as a volunteer for an organisation, or if you are doing work experience as part of a course.

What do carers do?

Carers provide support and help with daily activities such as preparing meals, bathing, dressing, going to the toilet, moving around and taking medicine.

Some people provide care all the time, while others do so only occasionally. Some carers look after people who are mostly independent but might need help with tasks such as banking, transport, shopping or housework.

You might not be the only person who cares for someone and you might not provide care every day. Every situation is different.

Carer stories

You may be looking after someone who is living with disability, mental illness or dementia. You might be young or old. You might be caring full-time or also working. Meet some of the people who provide care.

Video duration 2:04

Meet Dolly
Dolly: My name's Michelle Brown, but at birth my mum and dad gave me the name Dolly.

Meet Lac
Lac: My name's Lac.

Meet Adnan
Adnan: My name is Adnan.

Meet Angelina
Angelina: My name's Angelina.

Meet Peter
Peter: Peter, I'm Peter.

Meet Rachel
Rachel: My name is Rachel.

Describe yourself
Dolly: I kind of don't really think about me much, you know. No I wouldn't really know how to describe myself.
Angelina: I'm a mother, I'm a home cook and I love my family.
Adnan: Loud, fun, energetic.
Rachel: Very organised.

When did you start caring?
Lac: I became a carer when Andrew was born.
Peter: I became a carer when I met my wife.
Angelina: I became a carer when my daughter was born.
Rachel: Five years ago, Emily had a skiing accident.
Adnan: I care for my mum.

What I do
Angelina: I help her eat, help her get dressed.
Adnan: She needs help carrying heavy things or sometimes just doing household chores.

What does caring mean to you?
Peter: It's quite common for someone to be a carer and move into a caring situation without ever realising they've done it.
Angelina: To be a carer you need to think of the other person first, before you think of yourself.
Lac: It's a responsibility that I feel is expected of me.
Peter: I think being a carer means being able to contribute to someone else's life.

Caring for yourself
Dolly: Yeah I think the most challenging thing about being a carer is about yourself and about how you're feeling.
Rachel: You need to be mindful of yourself to bring your best self to the role.
Adnan: I think it's important for carers to have support because sometimes just the act of being a carer can be a little extra, a little, a little more than usual.

I am a carer
Dolly: I'm a carer.
Lac: I am a carer.
Angelina: I'm a carer.
Peter: I am a carer.
Rachel: I’m a carer.
Adnan: I’m a carer.