Unpaid Carers Provide $41 billion Each Year
18 October 2010 at 4:54 pm
It would cost nearly $41 billion per year to replace Australia’s 2.9 million unpaid carers according to a new report released by peak body Carers Australia.
The replacement cost of the care provided by Australia’s 2.9 million carers is $40.9 billion – a figure equivalent to 3.2% of GDP and 60% of other formal care, according to the report commissioned by Carers Australia and undertaken by Access Economics.
The research highlights the need for government action to support unpaid family careers in an age of growing health and aged care workforce shortages, according to Carers Australia CEO Joan Hughes.
Hughes says that without some serious government initiatives and funding of carer services, it will be challenging to address the emerging care shortfalls projected for the coming decade, as demand for care increasingly outstrips supply.
Hughes says this new data confirms that it makes sound economic sense for government to acknowledge and support unpaid family carers now and into the future, as the replacement cost of their informal care is immense and the loss of income to the carer and to the wider community is considerable.
Released at the launch of Carers Week, the research report found that in 2010 unpaid family carers provided an estimated 1.32 billion hours of care to people with a disability, mental illness or disorder, chronic condition, terminal illness, or who are frail.
The report found productivity losses associated with the provision of this unpaid family care are borne mainly by the carers whose wage income is reduced. The wider community is also affected through reduced personal income tax collection and the payment of income support to carers. Efficiency losses from these transfers are estimated to cost $1.76 billion.
The report reinforced that young carers can be a group at high risk of long term disadvantage as a result of missed education opportunities.
Carers Australia says the ’25 hour rule’ which limits recipients of Carer Payment to a maximum of 25 hours per week of study, work and travel compounds the many difficulties faced by young carers. They say young carers make an enormous sacrifice, giving up what can be millions of dollars of lifetime earnings in order to provide the care that their parents need.