Introduction

Caring for our unsung heroes

Caring for our unsung heroes

Image//istockphotos

As the nomination period draws to a close for our next Australian of the Year, we at MCWH would like to acknowledge the great 2015 line-up.  There have been multiple factors lifting the visibility of violence against women and children, and the work of Rosie Batty as the 2015 Australian of the Year has been a prominent one.

Following the theme of acknowledging the unsung heroes of our community, this year we will be barracking for the award to go to a carer. Carers are such an important part of our community, helping loved ones manage everything from chronic pain, loneliness, anxiety and personal care, to shopping, housework, and accessing health services. Anyone who has been a carer for a spouse, child, family member or friend knows that caring can be a deeply rewarding and enriching experience. But it can also be emotionally, physically and financially challenging. With the health and wellbeing of their loved one as their main priority, carers often find little time to think about their own wellbeing, isolation or grief.

The act of caring is gendered in almost all societies, and often the primary burden of caring falls on women. Our population is ageing at the same time as more women enter the workforce and as we collectively delay retirement age. These trends have placed rising demands on women to juggle paid employment with caring duties.

And with approximately 20% of people aged 65 or more born overseas in non-English speaking countries, it is clear that a significant proportion of our working caregivers also come from immigrant and refugee communities. For this group, the challenges intensify: health service systems in Australia can be formidable to navigate, and often do not provide in-language or culturally-appropriate services that resonate with diverse cultural understandings of what it means to genuinely “care”. Carers are often hesitant to use respite facilities where these diverse models of caring are not manifested, staff do not speak the same language, serve appropriate food, or take the time to provide attentive and tailored care. This can leave them with few breaks from their demanding caring roles.

We are excited to announce that MCWH has started work on our newest project, ‘Dealing with it myself’. The project is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services (DSS), and provides support for immigrant and refugee working carers.
If you would like more information on ‘Dealing with it myself’, or would like to be involved in the project, please contact Rosi Aryal (Project Officer) on rosi@mcwh.com.au.