NSW Shadow Minister for Carers Julia Finn and Lismore MP Janelle Saffin recently hosted a roundtable discussion around carers. Photo: Supplied
NSW Shadow Minister for Carers Julia Finn and Lismore MP Janelle Saffin recently hosted a roundtable discussion around carers. Photo: Supplied

Carers the unsung heroes in our community

NSW SHADOW Minister for Carers Julia Finn MP and I recently hosted a roundtable discussion with representatives from organisations working with carers in the Northern Rivers region, some carers themselves.

Over 15 representatives from local carers groups and support organisations gathered at Lismore Workers Club to discuss the needs of local carers.

Representatives included groups working with mental health carers, disability carers, carers of the sick, young carers and Aboriginal carers.

We heard about the innovative work of carers groups in the Northern Rivers and how government can better support carers in regional areas.

The sad reality right now is that many carers are not being cared for themselves.

Reports have found health and social outcomes for carers fall far short of where they should be.

This is particularly true in regional areas.

Unpaid carers in rural locations spend on average 11 hours more a week caring for another than those in urban communities.

Carers also experience barriers to employment.

Only 56 per cent of primary carers aged 15 to 64 participate in the workforce, compared to 80 per cent of non-carers.

Carers really are unsung heroes in our community because they are doing so much with so little.

I am committed to advocating for them asking for support.

The Nationals were quick to promise the $250 regional seniors travel card to all seniors on the Northern Rivers and Northern Tablelands, but have been slow and tardy in delivery.

In Parliament, I asked the NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole why the Government is short-changing senior carers and senior disability pensioners by excluding them from the prepaid card.

Minister Toole deflected my question in debate, so I formally lodged it as a Question on Notice, to which he must respond by April 2 this year.

And I have not forgotten veterans and war widows.

Two other Questions on Notice to Minister Toole were:

  • Why do veterans and war widows have to wait between two and two and a half months to receive the regional seniors travel card?
  • Will the Government immediately implement a manual system to accept applications for the regional seniors travel card without further delay, if the applicant has a Department of Veterans’ Affairs card?