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Queensland carers working hours equivalent to three full-time jobs

Carers Queensland’s Quality of Life report highlighted the amount of strain unpaid carers are under, as National Carers Week kicked-off on Sunday. Photo: SUPPLIED ZZZAs National Carers Week kicked off on Sunday, a new report has revealed just how much of a challenge unpaid Queensland carers face every week.
Nanjing Night Net

Carers Queensland’s Quality of Life report takes an annual snapshot of the lives of those caring for loved ones who have disabilities, illnesses, chronic conditions or who are frail aged.

Of the 494 respondents, 80 per cent of unpaid family carers said they were working more hours per week than an average full-time worker.

Almost half of unpaid Queensland carers said they worked 120 hours or more per week providing care for their loved one.

“I am astonished,” Carers Queensland President Jim Toohey said.

“I was in the meeting when the figures were first released, I asked staff to go back and check.

“There are carers out there, particularly those who have to attend to loved ones through the night, who are putting in hours equivalent to working three full-time jobs every week.

“This is why many carers are fatigued, burnt out, and quite simply at breaking point.”

Wynnum carer Kerry Singh has been caring for her son, 11-year-old Aidan, all his life after he was born with only half of a working heart.

Aidan has reduced exercise tolerance, can only walk short distances and has spent a significant portion of his life in a wheelchair.

Ms Singh used to care for her son 100-120 hours per week, however in the last few years the workload has eased to about 60 hours.

Ms Singh said there were gaps within the support network for Queensland’s unpaid carers, particularly for those in a similar position to her.

“To be honest for high-needs children there is enough resources and funding for those parents and carers,” she said.

“But for those who have needs, but not high needs, we slip through the cracks.

“We don’t qualify for any help or services and the only break I get is when both twins go to camp for three days once a year.”

Ms Singh said she used to take Aidan to hospital three times per week for blood tests and said the parking costs were “ridiculous”.

“We need more funding towards medicine, equipment and parking,” she said.

Unpaid carers are vital to Queensland and the entire country.

If all unpaid carers across Australia stopped fulfilling their caring role, it would cost the country $60.3 billion per year to replace those services.

“It’s clear that Australia counts on carers, so this National Carers Week we want to show carers just how much they count,” Mr Toohey said.

​”We always need to support those who receive the least, but contribute the most.”

National Carers Week 2016 in Australia is October 16-22.

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