2. What the Data Tells us About Carers
The Tasmanian Caring Experience
In 2018, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that there were 80 100 carers in Tasmania. This represents 15.5 per cent of the Tasmanian population and is the highest per capita rate of carers in all the states and territories.
It should also be noted that the ABS used a slightly different definition of ‘carer’ in its survey:
A carer is defined as a person who provides any informal assistance, in terms of help or supervision, to people with disability or older people (aged 65 years and over). Assistance must be ongoing, or likely to be ongoing, for at least six months.
As reported nationally, females were more likely to be carers (15.8 per cent of all females) than males (14.8 per cent of all males).
Although the average age of Tasmanian carers is 52.5 (51.9 female and 53.4 male), 11.6 per cent (9 300) are under the age of 25, while 28 per cent of Tasmanian carers are 65 years or older.
While using a different definition of ‘young carer’ to the ABS of (under 25 years of age); Carers Tasmania estimates that the number of young carers of school age could be as high as one in every 15 students in Tasmania.
The rate of Tasmanian carers with disability (43.7 per cent) is 11.6 per cent higher than reported nationally (32.1 per cent). The non-carer population reported 22.9 per cent of Tasmanians with disability, which is also higher (7.3 per cent) than the national figure of 15.3 per cent.
The report also found that 46 per cent of Tasmanian carers are employed (either part-time or full-time) compared to 61.4 per cent of non-carers, noting 21 per cent of Tasmanian carers are of prime working age (25 to 44 years old).
On average, Tasmanian carers earn approximately $190 less per week than their non-carer counterparts (carers median gross income per week $520, non-carers $710) and have a lower labour force participation rate (49.4 per cent) than people who are not carers (64.6 per cent).
Consistent with the national data from the 2018 survey, nearly half of all carers (47.9 per cent) live in households that fall into the lowest two tiers of average gross income. This proportion is almost twice that of non-carers (26.4 per cent).
Carers – the Tasmanian Statistical Profile
- There were 80 100 carers, representing 15.5 per cent of all Tasmanians.
- The average age of Tasmanian carers is 52.5 (51.9 female and 53.4 male).
- Females were more likely to be carers (15.8 per cent of all females) than males (14.8 per cent of all males).
- 9 300 (11.6 per cent) of Tasmanian carers are under the age of 25.
- 28 per cent of carers are 65 years or older.
- 21 per cent of Tasmanian carers are of prime working age (25 to 44 years old).
- 43.7 per cent of carers reported having a disability, compared with 22.9 per cent of the non-carer Tasmanian population.
- Only 46 per cent of Tasmanian carers are employed (either part-time or full-time) compared to 61.4 per cent of non-carers.
- On average, Tasmanian carers earn approximately $190 less per week than their non-carer counterparts (carers median gross income per week $520, non-carers $710).
- Tasmanian carers have a lower labour force participation rate (49.4 per cent) than people who are not carers (64.6 per cent).
- Nearly half (47.9 per cent) of all carers live in a households that fall into the lowest two tiers of average gross income, almost twice that of non-carers (26.4 per cent).
The Value of Informal Care in 2020
Carers Australia commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to undertake research on the Value of Informal Care in 2020. The study estimates that in 2020 there were almost 2.8 million informal carers in Australia, comprised of 906 000 primary carers and 1.9 million non-primary carers. This represents a 5.5 per cent increase since the ABS 2018 Survey on Disability, Ageing and Carers survey due to population growth.
The research estimates that the demand for informal carers will grow from around 1.25 million in 2020 to 1.54 million in 2030, representing a 23 per cent increase.
In contrast, the supply of informal carers will rise from 674 000 to 780 000, an increase of 16 per cent. This will see the carer ratio fall by 3.2 per cent from 53.8 per cent in 2020 to 50.6 per cent in 2030.
The research by Deloitte Access Economics also explored the economic value provided by carers and found that:
- Carers in Australia provided an estimated total of 2.2 billion hours of informal care in 2020, which equates to each carer providing roughly 15 hours of care per week. This is a considerable increase from the 2015 total of 1.9 billion hours of care.
- Over one third (37 per cent) of primary carers spent more than 40 hours caring each week.
- In 2020, if informal carers were to be replaced by carers employed by the formal sector, it would cost an estimated $36.12 per carer, per hour.
- In 2020, it is estimated that 22 per cent of primary carers were employed full-time in comparison to the general population average of 43 per cent.
COVID-19 Caring experience
The COVID-19 Carer Survey (2020) conducted by the Caring Fairly Coalition aimed to assess the impact of the pandemic on unpaid carers’ work and income, expenses, health and wellbeing and access to services and supports. Overall the results demonstrate an impact on unpaid carers across Australia with 60 per cent of respondents reporting that they had lost some or all of the supports for the person they care for and almost half (47 per cent) reporting losing supports for themselves.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, 44 per cent of carers said they had increased the amount of time spent providing unpaid care support. Many carers cited a reduction of services for the person they care for as a reason for their increased caring responsibilities.
‘My daughter’s days during the week were full with various groups and work. So she was supported or at work for a total of 35 hours a week. Now due to COVID-19 she has only six hours of support a week and the rest is left to myself and my husband.’
2020 National Carer Survey
In 2020, Carers Australia supported Carers NSW to build on its biannual carer study and conduct the 2020 National Carer Study.
Nationally, the typical respondent for the study was a female primary carer of working age with a high school education, not participating in paid employment and the typical person being cared for was an adult son with physical disability who is not able to be left alone for more than a few hours.
Most respondents provided 40 or more hours of care per week, and more than half had been caring for 20 years or more.
Nearly half of the carers who responded were experiencing high or very high psychological distress, and one in three felt highly socially isolated.
One in three respondents said they never get time out from their caring responsibilities, with only around half having enough time to keep on top of other responsibilities.
It was relatively uncommon for carers to be asked about their own needs when accessing services or on behalf of the person they care for and carers reported challenges getting information about available services, and the time and energy it took to organise them. Waiting periods for services were also a common challenge.
One in four carers reported spending more money than they made in the past 12 months, and exiting employment and reducing working hours were also reported as common impacts of caring.