LABOUR OF LOVE: Mum and carer Babette Page of Hatton Vale with her high-functioning autistic son Kobi, 11.
LABOUR OF LOVE: Mum and carer Babette Page of Hatton Vale with her high-functioning autistic son Kobi, 11. David Nielsen

Our carers struggling to make ends meet

IMAGINE having to care for someone who is totally dependent on you, not being able to work and struggling to afford everyday basics including food, rent and electricity.

About half of the carers in Ipswich struggle to make ends meet, adding more stress to their already-pressured lives, Carers Queensland Ipswich team leader Neville Coventry says.

"The truth is carers come in all shapes and varieties and all different sets of socio-economic circumstances," he said.

"But they are unpaid for their roles. And with that comes lots of significant costs."

This week marked Carers Week and the concerning release of a report showing half of the state's carers live on an annual household income of $40,000 or less; much lower than the national average salary of $75,000.

"We're talking about people who could have a child with Down syndrome or a husband showing early stages of dementia," Mr Coventry said.

"Most people aren't prepared for that."

The number of carers is also on the rise in Ipswich.

Mr Coventry said with better diagnostics, people were getting diagnosed with conditions earlier.

"People are also living until more senior ages now so we're getting the incidences of stroke, dementia and increasing number of carers that are around," Mr Coventry said.

It's not just financial pressures that add to stress levels of being a carer.

Mr Coventry said it took an emotional toll on families and relationships, which meant it was important to give carers recognition.

To Mr Coventry, carers are "heroes". The resilience they have and the ability to give love under difficult circumstances… and it does come at a cost."

Tough times

  • The survey found almost half of carers struggle to afford everyday basics.
  • Their household lives on $40,000 or less a year.
  • There are about 500,000 unpaid carers in Qld.
  • This week was Carers Week and Poverty Week.

 

Mum and carer 'wouldn't have it any other way'

HATTON Vale mum Babette Page knows what it's like to care for a person and struggle to pay for all of their needs.

While she feels lucky that her family can afford most things because her partner works, the family cannot go on holidays.

Ms Page has an 11-year-old son who has Autism Spectrum Disorder.

While he goes to school, she has to be available for him 24 hours a day.

"With (that) diagnosis, if the school calls and your child has to come home, you can't just leave your job," she said.

Ms Page has qualifications but understands employers need staff who can commit to working full time.

While there is some financial support out there for children with a disability, Ms Page said it did not cover everything.

"Even though there are Medicare items, they don't last long. And speech and occupational therapy, you're out of pocket $50 every time.

"It can be a struggle, any parent struggles and it hits a bit harder when your child has special needs."

But Ms Page said she had grown from the experience.

"I wouldn't have it any other way. It's just something you get used to."



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