Home-based care provided by family members is the most common form of caring for people with disabilities in Australia. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that this model of care is generating enormous health and financial consequences for informal carers.
Carers are experiencing high stress levels, low sense of wellbeing and poor health. A key contributor to this is the high level of financial stress they face. There are many factors contributing to carers and their families having low household incomes. The main reason is that taking on an informal carer role has a significant impact on an individual's ability to work. Many carers leave paid employment either permanently or on a part-time basis to become carers. Spending all or a significant proportion of one's working years out of the workforce also means that there is limited opportunity to invest towards retirement through superannuation, and with high household expenditure levels relative to income, there is little opportunity for household savings. Without superannuation carers will have to depend on the aged pension provided by the government to support their needs in their retirement years.
Because primary carers are more likely to be women than men, women are more likely to 'pay the price' of being a carer.