Your role as a carer
You are a carer, or caregiver, if you provide ongoing unpaid care and support to a person who needs this assistance because of a disease such as cancer, a disability, mental illness or ageing. You may be a partner, family member, child, friend or neighbour.
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You might not see yourself as a carer, but as someone simply helping out a person in need. You may feel that caring is part of your relationship with the person affected, or you may feel pressured to be a carer out of a sense of duty.
Becoming a carer can be sudden or it may be a gradual process. You may provide care for a short time or over months or years. Care may be needed for a few hours a week or on a 24-hour basis, and the level of care you provide may change over time.
About 11% of Australians are unpaid carers who provide care to someone with a disability or illness.
The Carer Recognition Act 2010 (Commonwealth) states that carers should have:
- the same rights as other Australians
- recognition and respect
- support to enjoy good health and social wellbeing
- economic security and the opportunity to do paid work and education
- access to appropriate services
- acknowledgement as individuals with their own needs
- recognition as partners with other care providers.
All state and territory governments have also passed their own Act and policies. For more details, visit carergateway.gov.au.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Dr Laura Kirsten, Principal Clinical Psychologist, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, NSW; Mary Bairstow, Senior Social Worker, Cancer Centre, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Anne Booms, Nurse Practitioner – Supportive and Palliative Care, Icon Cancer Centre Midland, WA; Dr Erica Cameron-Taylor, Staff Specialist, Department of Palliative Care, Mercy Hospice, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Louise Good, Cancer Nurse Consultant, WA; Verity Jausnik, Senior Policy Officer, Carers Australia; David Larkin, Cancer Supportive Care Manager, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, Canberra Hospital and Health Service, ACT; Kate Martin, Consumer; John McMath, Consumer; Simone Noelker, Physiotherapist and Wellness Centre Coordinator, Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, VIC; Tara Redemski, Senior Physiotherapist – Cancer Care, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Dean Rowe, Consumer; Chris Sibthorpe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.