Full time carers are ending up in poverty – it’s about time we fix this

There are over 500,000 unpaid primary carers in Australia.

These primary carers are often people caring full time for a family member such as an elderly parent or disabled child.

I cannot think of a commitment that could be more commendable. It is in a sense a giving up of one’s life for the service of another, a great act of love and generosity that is indeed a prime example of the beauty found in selfless humanity.

Acts of great generosity have a power that touches and moves us, I’m sure you’ve felt it before.

While caring is an experience which deepens friendships and relationships, it can also be very physically and emotionally demanding. It can be very hard work. The more hours spent caring, the greater the decline in carer health, because carers end up having less time to maintain their own health.

What I find very concerning is this: their role as a full time carer prevents them from obtaining full time employment and receiving compulsory superannuation payments available to employees.

Because of this, most will reach retirement age with little or no means of financial support.

Sure, full time primary carers are eligible for welfare benefits. But these are only enough to get you by a day at a time. As soon as these welfare payments stop, you are on your own. Full time primary carers have been retiring into poverty, because decades without paid employment means decades without superannuation.

In my opinion, this is simply not acceptable. These people do not deserve to finish up in poverty the way they do after years and often decades of full time service to not just a person in need of great care, but also service to the community and indeed the nation.

As these carers provide a major contribution to society and a massive saving to Government expenditure, they are should be entitled to receive a government funded contribution based on 9% of average weekly earnings.

The Democratic Labour Party believes that the government should fund superannuation contributions for full time primary carers. 

I find it an absolute disgrace that such an initiative has not been sought after by successive governments on both sides of politics.

The DLP are likely to hold the balance of power in the Senate after this year’s federal election but as always, it comes down to votes.



By Vince Stefano