Around 2.5 million Australians aged 15 years and over care for someone at home because of a disability or old age, according to a new report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The report, A Profile of Carers in Australia brings together information from a range of surveys conducted between 2003 and 2006 to paint a picture of carers in contemporary Australian society.
The report states that women were more likely than men to be carers (17% of women and 14% of men) and carers tended to be older, with the median age of 48 years while for non-carers it was 40 years.
Of parents aged 35–54 years, 22% of mothers and 15% of fathers were carers. About half of these carers were caring for a child with a disability. The other half were combining raising young children with care of another relative or friend.
For all age groups, carers were more likely to have a disability themselves (35% of all carers had a disability compared with 22% of all people).
A primary carer is the main provider of care to someone in the core activities of daily living such as dressing, eating or moving around the house. One in five carers were primary carers. Almost one-quarter (23%) of primary carers were caring for a child with a disability and almost two-thirds of these carers were spending 40 hours or more per week in their caring role. Just over 40% of parents caring for a child with a disability said they needed access (or more access) to respite care.
42% of all primary carers were caring for a spouse/partner; 26% were children caring for a parent; 23% were parents caring for a child.
Primary carers spent more time on housework and less time sleeping than other people did. While one-third of primary carers reported negative effects on their relationship with their spouse or other family members, an equal proportion felt that caring drew them closer to the person they were caring for.