National Carers Week raises community awareness about what it means to be a carer and what being a carer involves.
Carers are people who provide unpaid care and support to family members or friends who have a disability, a mental health or chronic condition, a terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue, or who are frail aged.
Liz, a Local Area Coordinator at APM, cares for her son and also works as an advocate for other carers and people with disabilities in the culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) community.
Liz emphasises that carers need to look after themselves in order to be able to look after others.
“It’s important that people know what services are available to them, to help them care for their loved ones and to make sure that they are looking after themselves at the same time,” she said.
“Carers need to make sure that they take care of their own needs. I myself check in to find out how I’m doing—am I in the right space where I can give my son the care he needs?
“It’s important to give yourself a treat or a pat on the back sometimes so you can keep cheerful and positive.”
Liz is also keen to challenge the stigma that is attached to people with disability and those that care for them.
“A lot of people don’t like to say they care for someone with disability because there is often shame about this in CaLD communities.
“National Carers Week is an opportunity to take away this stigma and to bring people’s attention to it. It’s a chance to see what can be done in CaLD communities to set up peer support groups and share information.
“We need to support carers of all cultural backgrounds, and be aware that different backgrounds need different supports.”
Knowing that support groups are particularly important for carers, Liz is in the process of setting up a group where people can go to talk without guilt, get support and maintain their privacy.
“Carers Week is a really good initiative, but carers need general, practical things that help every day, moving beyond just one week per year.
“One more thing: Carers, do not be ashamed to ask for help when you need it!"
National Carers Week runs from 11 to 17 October 2020. More information is available from https://carersweek.com.au/.