Healthcare

Call for more support for unpaid carers

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Carers Australia has asked the government to help improve carers’ financial security.

There are 2.65 million Australians providing unpaid care for loved ones with illness, disability or age-related needs.

The organisation says caregivers save the country an estimated $80 billion yearly in free care services. But long-term caregiving often strains people’s ability to hold paying jobs. This can lower future retirement savings.

On average, an unpaid caregiver loses around $175,000 in superannuation savings by age 67. They also miss out on $392,500 in total lifetime earnings. Carers Australia wants more economic rewards for this vital work.

Key proposals to the government include adding superannuation contributions to the Carer Payment welfare program. Another is reviewing eligibility rules to make it easier to qualify for income support programs as a carer. The group also wants an annual federal budget statement outlining new support investments aimed at unpaid caregivers.

Lucy Tatchell, Acting CEO of Carers Australia, said these changes would lead to real-life financial improvements for many selfless caregivers. For example, superannuation payments would help shore up retirement funds down the road. This could then lower future demand for taxpayer-funded pensions.

“If these changes were implemented by the current Government, we would begin to see real-life benefits for a community in Australia providing at least $80 billion worth of services for free to those who need it most,” Tachell said.

Carers Australia said this would not only contribute to a carer’s financial security in retirement but also reduce demand
for future government expenditure on the Age Pension.

Related: The sandwich generation dilemma: Jane Morrell sheds light on the challenges of balancing care

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