'Dealing with it myself': A new project to support working carers

MCWH has been funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services for an important new initiative focusing on people from an immigrant or refugee background who are in paid employment at the same time as informally caring for a family member or family members at home.

The project is called ‘Dealing with it myself’ and aims to raise awareness about the health impacts of being a working carer and to support working carers to manage their multiple responsibilities and maintain their health and well-being.

Regardless of their cultural backgrounds, many people prefer to receive care in the comfort of their home. However recent research suggests that immigrant and refugee Australians probably rely more heavily on family members to provide care services, such as housework, transport and cooking, than Anglo-Australian groups, who show a greater dependence on formal service providers.

While responsibility for family members can sometimes be shared, in many ageing Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities, due to cultural and gendered expectations, family circumstances and language barriers, the burden of informal caring often falls on the women of the family, many of whom have multiple caring responsibilities including caring for children, grandchildren, children with disability, elderly parents, spouses with chronic illness and paid employment.

In the future, working carers are expected to become even more prevalent in CALD communities, as women increasingly continue in paid employment for longer, workforce opportunities for older women grow, economies tighten and superannuation opportunities narrow.

There is strong evidence that combining paid employment and unpaid caring has a substantial impact on working carers’ health and well-being. Managing multiple responsibilities arising from paid employment and unpaid caring is challenging and confronting. While there are resources available for carers, none are specifically tailored for the needs of working carers from CALD communities.

Dealing with it myself will aim to improve the physical health, psychological well-being and social connectedness of CALD working carers through the development and broad dissemination of tailored resource kits, the delivery of peer education sessions, and the establishment of ongoing Working Carer Support networks.