Who are carers?

Carers provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail aged.

Who can be a carer?

Carers come from all walks of life, all cultures and all religions. Some are only 10 years old while others are nearing 90. They may be spouses, parents, sons or daughters, siblings, friends, nieces or nephews or neighbours.

Approximately 2.7 million Australians provide help and support to a family member or friend - caring can happen to anyone, anytime.

How do people become carers?

People become carers in different ways.

Sometimes it happens gradually - helping out more and more as a person’s health and independence get worse over time. It may also happen suddenly - after a health crisis (like a stroke or heart attack) or an accident.

It's not uncommon for carers to feel that they don’t really have a choice. Even in large families the responsibility of providing care is often left to one person rather than being shared.

Many carers feel that it is what they should do.

What do carers do?

Every care situation is different.

Some carers provide 24 hour nursing aid to a family member with high care needs. They help with daily needs and activities like feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting, lifting and moving and administering medications.

Others care for people who are fairly independent but may need someone to keep an eye on them or help with them with tasks like banking, transport, shopping and housework.

Most carers give comfort, encouragement and reassurance to the person they care for, oversee their health and wellbeing, monitor their safety and help them stay as independent as possible.

Carers help their family members to have a good quality of life.

Who do we support?

The word ‘carer’ can be confusing. Many carers don't use this word to describe themselves and it can sometimes be difficult to know whether we are the right organisation to help you.

We can help if you provide unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who is frail and elderly, has dementia, a mental illness, a disability, chronic illness or complex needs, or receives palliative care.

  • You do not need to live with the person you care for
  • You do not need to be the main source of care and support
  • You do not have to provide care every day or over many years
  • You do not have to receive the Carer Payment or Allowance from Centrelink

Contact our advisory line if you have any questions about our services or about other supports available to you.

Other types of carers

The term ‘carer’ is often used to describe roles and activities that are different to the ones supported by Carers ACT.

We sometimes get contacted by people who mistakenly think that we provide services relating to these groups of people:

Paid carers or care workers
Paid a salary or hourly rate to look after people with care needs

Foster carers
People or families who volunteer to look after children and young people in their own home, usually because the young people are unable to live with their biological families

Parents and carers
Can describe anybody who lives with and looks after a child under 18

Kinship carers
Are relatives or close friends who look after children and young people who are unable to live with their families. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, a kinship carer may be another Indigenous person who is a member of their community