An informal personal carer is someone who looks after a family member, neighbour or friend in need of care due to disability, illness or age.
In Australia, there are approximately 2.8 million informal personal carers, including 906,000 who are primary carers. Projections suggest the national demand for carers will rise 23% by 2030.
Around one in ten Australians are informal carers: most of these unpaid. This group of people support one of society’s most foundational needs and our economy would struggle without them.\
Yet, little is understood about their experiences. Our recent research reveals how this group of carers lack necessary support for their own wellbeing.
Many spoke of how they once had individual goals and ambitions, which they now considered unachievable. All of our interviewees had quit jobs and halted careers to take on personal care full-time.
Because so much of their work happens in pre-existing relationships and behind closed doors, carers talked about not just feeling unseen but abandoned. A common theme across all interviews was how carers felt abandoned by institutions, health professionals and, in many cases, friends and family members.
The truth is that most of us will likely, at some point, undertake care work or be the person being cared for. Better formalised support for carers will ultimately improve the care for the most vulnerable among us and society as a whole.