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4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2008  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/04/2008   
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CARERS

Prevalence by age and sex

In 2006, for the first time, the Census collected information on the number of carers aged 15 years or over in Australia. The analysis that follows is based on carers of people with disability, living in private dwellings.

There were 11,600 Indigenous male carers (9%) and 20,000 Indigenous female carers (14%) in 2006. The proportion of Indigenous carers ranged from 8% of those aged 15-24 years, increased to a peak of 15% of those aged 45-54 years, and then decreased to 10% of those aged 65 years and over (graph 5.15).

5.15 INDIGENOUS CARERS(a), by age and sex - 2006
Graph: 5.15 Indigenous carers, by age and sex, 2006

5.16 2006 CENSUS - CARER STATUS

Carer status
The 2006 Census asked two questions about the provision of unpaid assistance which were then combined to produce the Unpaid Assistance to a Person with a Disability measure (see Appendix 1). Some carers may not have been identified as such due to the relative positioning of questions on Core Activity Need for Assistance and the provision of unpaid care (i.e. these question sets were not sequential). Appearing much later on the Census form, the carer questions used the word 'disability' to signify the Core Activity Need for Assistance concept, which may also have resulted in some people misunderstanding the intended connection between the two measures.

Non-response
It should be noted that the proportion of carers in the Indigenous population is likely to be understated as around 11% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over in private dwellings did not answer these questions. The corresponding rate of non-response in the non-Indigenous population was 5%.

Comparison with non-Indigenous carers

After adjusting for differences in the age structures of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely than non-Indigenous people to be caring for another person with disability, long-term illness or problems related to old age. The median age of Indigenous carers was 37 years; 12 years less than the median age of non-Indigenous carers (49 years). Reflecting higher birth rates at younger ages (younger parenting), and the earlier onset of many chronic diseases in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, the Indigenous to non-Indigenous carer rate ratio was greatest among people aged 15-34 years (table 5.17).

5.17 CARERS(a), by Indigenous status, age and sex - 2006

Indigenous
Non-Indigenous
Indigenous to non-Indigenous rate ratio
%
%
ratio


Age group (years)
15-24
7.9
4.5
1.7
25-34
12.1
7.5
1.6
35-44
14.7
11.2
1.3
45-54
15.3
15.0
1.0
55-64
14.0
16.5
0.9
65 and over
10.4
10.4
1.0
Total
11.9
10.8
1.1
Males - Age standardised
9.8
8.3
1.2
Females - Age standardised
14.5
12.6
1.2
Total - Age standardised
12.4
10.5
1.2

Numbers

Total carers
31 600
1 532 057
. .

. . not applicable
(a) Persons aged 15 years or over living in private dwellings who provided unpaid care, help or assistance to another person because of their disability, long-term illness or problems related to old age.
Source: ABS 2006 Census of Population and Housing



State/territory and remoteness

At the state/territory level, similar proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were carers - ranging from 11% in Queensland to 13% in the Australian Capital Territory. Carer rates were higher for females than males in all jurisdictions. There were no significant differences in the prevalence of carers according to remoteness areas.


Labour force status

For carers of working age, there can be opportunity and financial costs if their caring role prevents or makes it difficult for them to work in paid employment. Carers providing the intensive level of care associated with self-care tasks such as washing, dressing and toileting are often required to perform these tasks at short notice, making regular full-time paid employment outside the home difficult.

In 2006, Indigenous carers were participating in the labour force (i.e. either employed or unemployed and looking for work) at a similar rate to those who were not caregivers (54% compared with 58%). In both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, carers were more likely than those who were not providing care, to be employed part-time. Among Indigenous people who were employed, 44% of carers were in part-time work compared with 37% of those who were not providing care.

Comparison with non-Indigenous carers

After adjusting for differences in the age structures of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, non-Indigenous carers were around one-and-a-half times more likely to be employed than were Indigenous carers. Among those who were employed, rates of part-time work were similar for Indigenous and non-Indigenous carers.


Median individual weekly income

In the 2006 Census, the median individual weekly income for male carers was $248, and for female carers, $289. While the 2006 Census did not ask people whether their caring role prevented them from working, age-specific information on weekly income shows that among Indigenous people aged 25-64 years, the median income of carers was lower than the median income of those who were not providing care. Among people in this age group, the median weekly income for Indigenous male carers was between $60 and $140 lower than the corresponding income for males who were not providing care, while among Indigenous females, the median weekly income for carers was up to $25 lower than the corresponding income for those who were not providing care (graphs 5.18 and 5.19).

5.18 MEDIAN INDIVIDUAL WEEKLY INCOME BY CARER STATUS, Indigenous males aged 15 years and over in private dwellings - 2006
Graph: 5.18 Median individual weekly income by carer status, Indigenous males aged 15 years and over in private dwellings, 2006


5.19 MEDIAN INDIVIDUAL WEEKLY INCOME BY CARER STATUS, Indigenous females aged 15 years and over in private dwellings - 2006
Graph: 5.19 Median individual weekly income by carer status, Indigenous females aged 15 years and over in private dwellings, 2006


Comparison with non-Indigenous carers

Reflecting lower employment rates, the median weekly income for Indigenous male carers was equivalent to 42% of the median weekly income for non-Indigenous male carers ($248 compared with $589). Although still considerable, the difference between the median weekly income for Indigenous and non-Indigenous female carers was much smaller ($289 compared with $356). The median weekly income for Indigenous male and female carers was lower than that for non-Indigenous carers of the same sex across all age groups.


Low resource households

In this report, Indigenous people whose equivalised gross weekly household income was in the lowest quintile, i.e. less than $315 per week, were considered to be living in low resource households. Data from the 2006 Census show that Indigenous carers aged 15 years and over were more likely than those not providing care to be living in a low resource household (36% compared with 33%). For more information on the definitions of low resource households and income quintiles, see Glossary.

Comparison with non-Indigenous carers

After adjusting for differences in the age structures of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, Indigenous carers were four times as likely as non-Indigenous carers to be living in a low resource household. However, a similar degree of relative disadvantage was also evident between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people aged 15 years and over who were not carers.


Language spoken at home

In 2006, around 5,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers (16%) reported speaking an Australian Indigenous language at home and 25,300 (80%) spoke English only. A majority of those who spoke an Indigenous language at home reported that they were also proficient English speakers.


Carers' need for assistance

In the 2006 Census, around 2,100 Indigenous carers needed help with core activities themselves, of whom more than two-thirds (68%) were under 55 years of age. Indigenous carers were between one-and-a half and three times as likely as non-Indigenous carers to need assistance with core activities (graph 5.20).

5.20 CARERS(a) WHO NEEDED ASSISTANCE(b) BY INDIGENOUS STATUS - 2006
Graph: 5.20 Carers who needed assistance with core activities, by Indigenous status and age, 2006






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