4409.3 - Ageing Well, Queensland, 2005  
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Contents >> Family and Community Life >> Caring for Others

In recent years there has been an increasing awareness of both the importance of carers in the community, and of their support needs. While the role of carer may provide a sense of satisfaction, it may also involve substantial personal costs, both in terms of mental and physical stress and in lost opportunities for work, earning of income and leisure.

Unpaid and voluntary work in the household makes a substantial contribution to the national economy. However, the lack of value often attached to unpaid work can affect the self-esteem of unpaid workers. Caring work, for children or for people with illness or disability, can be isolating, and the opportunities and income available to those involved in this work may also be limited. On the other hand, there are many non-material rewards associated with caring work that can enhance wellbeing.

CARERS
In Queensland in 2003, 14% of people living in households were carers who provided some assistance to those who needed help because of disability or age (either within or outside the household in which they are living). Generally, females were more likely (16%) to be carers than males (13%).

Proportion of carers within age groups
However, there was a change in caring responsibility between males and females around the age of 65. A higher proportion of males in the age groups 65-74 years (28%) and 75 years and over (24%) were carers compared with females aged 65-74 years (21%) and 75 years and over (12%). The reason for this change in proportions is that the number of female carers dropped by more than half from 59,000 aged 55-64 years to 24,700 female carers aged 65-74.

There are several factors that could influence this large decrease in female carers. Males have a shorter life expectancy than females and tend to be older than their partners. Older persons mostly care for their partner. It is possible that there may be fewer males for females to care for. This change in carer numbers could also be partially linked to employment factors with males retiring by age 65 and having more opportunity to take on a caring role.

Persons were more likely to have a caring role when they were between the ages of 55 and 64 than at any other age. More than a quarter of persons in this age group were involved in caring.

The proportions climbed from a low of 4.6% for males under 18 years of age to a high of 31% for females aged 55-64 years.

      4.2.1 PROPORTION OF PERSONS WHO ARE CARERS, 2003 - Queensland
Graph, PROPORTION OF PERSONS WHO ARE CARERS, by sex, 2003, Queensland
    Proportion of carers
    Although persons are more likely to have a caring role when they are aged 55-64 years they do not represent the largest number of carers. In 2003, persons aged 45-54 years represented the largest proportion of carers with 21% of all carers falling in that age range and persons aged 55-64 years represented the second largest proportion of carers (19%).

    The pattern differed slightly between male and female carers.

    Males aged 55-64 years accounted for the highest proportion of all male carers (18%) and males aged 18-24 years accounted for the lowest proportion (6.4%).

    In contrast, females aged 45-54 years accounted for the highest proportion of all female carers (23%) and females in the oldest age group (75 years and over) the lowest proportion (4.2%).

    A greater proportion (55%) of the 535,800 carers in Queensland were female.

        4.2.2 CARER STATUS OF ALL PERSONS LIVING IN HOUSEHOLDS, By age, 2003 - Queensland

        All Carers(a)

        Males
        Females
        Persons



        '000
        %
        '000
        %
        '000
        %
        Age groups
        Less than 18 years
        22.1
        9.2
        21.9
        7.4
        44.0
        8.2
        18–24 years
        15.3
        6.4
        20.5
        6.9
        35.8
        6.7
        25–34 years
        32.4
        13.5
        33.2
        11.2
        65.6
        12.2
        35–44 years
        33.1
        13.8
        54.9
        18.6
        88.0
        16.4
        45–54 years
        40.9
        17.0
        69.2
        23.4
        110.1
        20.5
        55–64 years
        44.2
        18.4
        59.0
        20.0
        103.3
        19.3
        65–74 years
        33.2
        13.8
        24.7
        8.4
        57.9
        10.8
        75 years and over
        18.8
        7.8
        12.3
        4.2
        31.1
        5.8
        Total persons
        240.1
        100.0
        295.7
        100.0
        535.8
        100.0

        (a) For full definition of carer see notes at the end of this web page.

        Source: ABS data available on request, Disability, Ageing and Carers, 2003, Australia. (cat. no.4430.0)


    PRIMARY CARERS
    In 2003, 21% of the 535,800 carers in Queensland were primary carers who provided the majority of informal help to a person with a disability. Over half (53%) of all primary carers were aged 45-64 years and the majority of primary carers were female (74%).

    Nationally, the pattern was similar with 45% of all primary carers aged 45-64 years. The responsibilities of that age group were more evenly spread across main recipients of care than any other age group with 34% caring for their partners, 34% for their parents, 21% for their children and 11% for other recipients.

    The most likely recipient of care in Australia was the primary carer's partner (42%). This was especially true for persons aged 65 years and over (83%) and for male carers (60%).

        4.2.3 CARERS AND PRIMARY CARERS AND THE RELATIONSHIP OF PRIMARY CARERS TO THEIR MAIN RECIPIENT OF CARE, 2003

        Australia
        Queensland


        Partner
        Child
        Parent
        Other
        Total primary
        carers
        Total
        carers
        Total primary
        carers
        Total
        carers


        %
        %
        %
        %
        '000
        '000
        '000
        '000


        15–44 years
        20.6
        30.7
        40.9
        7.8
        146.1
        1,149.7
        29.6
        233.4
        45–64 years
        34.0
        34.1
        20.6
        11.3
        215.4
        953.7
        58.7
        213.4
        65 years and over
        82.8
        *3.7
        *5.7
        *7.9
        113.2
        453.6
        23.0
        89.0
        Males
        60.0
        25.6
        *7.1
        *7.2
        136.2
        1,174.6
        28.9
        240.1
        Females
        34.1
        25.9
        29.8
        10.3
        338.4
        1,382.3
        82.4
        295.7
        Total carers
        41.5
        25.8
        23.3
        9.4
        474.6
        2,557.0
        111.3
        535.8

        * estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

        Source: ABS data available on request, Disability, Ageing and Carers, 2003, Australia. (cat. no.4430.0).



    Primary carers with main recipient of care living in the same household

    In Queensland, 84% (93,400) of primary carers have their main recipient of care living in their households. For many of these primary carers, the caring role is intensive with 46% of carers reporting 40 or more average weekly hours of care in 2003. The highest proportion of primary carers in all three age groups in Queensland have caring responsibilities which occupy 40 or more hours a week.

    Primary carers aged 65 years and over were the most likely to average 40 or more hours a week with 12,800 persons (56%) in that situation.

    A lower proportion (39%) of primary carers aged 45-64 years reported averaging 40 or more hours a week than the proportions in the other age groups although they were far more likely to report caring responsibilities of 20 to 39 hours per week.

    In addition, persons aged 45-64 years represented 42% of all primary carers reporting caring responsibilities of 40 hours or more per week compared with 30% or persons aged 65 years and over and 28% of persons aged 15-44 years.

        4.2.4 PRIMARY CARERS(a), Time currently spent caring for main recipient of care, 2003 - Queensland

        Average current weekly hours

        Less than 20 hours
        20–39 hours
        40 hours or more
        Total(b)
        Age group of primary carer
        '000
        '000
        '000
        '000

        15–44 years
        *8.1
        *2.3
        11.9
        24.7
        45–64 years
        14.1
        11.0
        17.9
        45.8
        65 years and over
        *5.2
        *3.9
        12.8
        23.0
        Total
        27.4
        17.2
        42.6
        93.4

        * estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.
        (a) Main recipient of care lives in the same household.
        (b) Total includes 'Time spent caring' not stated.

        Source: ABS data available on request, Disability, Ageing and Carers, 2003, Australia. (cat. no.4430.0).

      CARE OF GRANDCHILDREN
      Many persons aged 50 years and over who have grandchildren are involved in their care. Some provide informal child care for these children either on a regular or occasional basis. These activities may be combined with full-time employment or may lead to a preference for part-time or casual employment. It is possible in some cases that caring for grandchildren may be a full-time arrangement and prevent the carer from remaining in the labour force.

      The Child Care Survey was conducted throughout Australia in June 2002 as a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey. There were 607,500 children aged 0-11 years covered by this survey in Queensland.

      There were 308,600 (51%) children using various types of child care. The proportion of children using informal care, either alone or in a combination with formal care, was 32% (192,200).

      Most children using informal care (57%) were cared for by grandparents. In Queensland, 55,200 children aged 0-4 years and 53,800 children aged 5-11 years received informal care from their grandparents. In total, grandparents provided care for 18% of children under 12 years of age.

          4.2.5 TYPE OF CHILD CARE BY AGE OF CHILD, June 2002 - Queensland

          Selected characteristics
          '000
          %

          Children aged 0-4 years
          Whether used any type of child care
          Children who used formal and/or informal care(a)
          159.6
          66.3
          Children who used neither formal nor informal care
          81.0
          33.7
          Children by type of care used
          Formal care
          115.9
          48.2
          Informal care(b)
          83.3
          34.6
          Grandparent
          55.2
          23.0
          Brother, sister or other relative
          20.9
          8.7
          Other person
          13.7
          5.7
          All children
          240.6
          100.0
          Children aged 5-11 years
          Whether used any type of child care
          Children who used formal and/or informal care(a)
          149.0
          40.6
          Children who used neither formal nor informal care
          217.9
          59.4
          Children by type of care used
          Formal care
          60.3
          16.4
          Informal care(b)
          108.9
          29.7
          Grandparent
          53.8
          14.7
          Brother, sister or other relative
          35.8
          9.8
          Other person
          27.4
          7.5
          All children
          366.9
          100.0
          Children aged 0-11 years
          Whether used any type of child care
          Children who used formal and/or informal care(a)
          308.6
          50.8
          Children who used neither formal nor informal care
          298.9
          49.2
          Children by type of care used
          Formal care
          176.3
          29.0
          Informal care(b)
          192.2
          31.6
          Grandparent
          109.0
          17.9
          Brother, sister or other relative
          56.6
          9.4
          Other person
          41.0
          6.8
          All children
          607.5
          100.0

          (a) Formal and informal care components do not add up to this total as children could use both formal and informal care.
          (b) Components do not add to this total as children could use more than one type of care.

          Source: ABS data available on request, Child Care, June 2002 (cat. no. 4402.0).


      Days of care
      Of the 109,000 children cared for by grandparents, 44% received care on one week day only. Other common patterns of care occurred where children were cared for by grandparents on two week days (22%) or at weekends (13%).

      The remaining children were provided with care by their grandparents on three, four or five weekdays, with the smallest number receiving care on four days a week.
          4.2.6 PROPORTION OF CHILDREN IN THE INFORMAL CARE OF GRANDPARENTS, By days of care, June 2002 - Queensland
          Graph, PROPORTION OF CHILDREN IN THE INFORMAL CARE OF GRANDPARENTS, By days of care, June 2002, Queensland

      Weekly hours of care
      More than a third of all children under 12 years old covered by the Child Care Survey in Queensland spent less than five hours a week in the care of their grandparents and 44% were cared for on one week day only. This could indicate that grandparents provide only occasional care perhaps allowing the main carer time for other activities.

      Full-time employment is regarded as 35 hours or more per week and grandparents who provide 35 or more hours of care a week could be caring for the children of parents in full-time employment. Approximately 7% of children in Queensland in 2002 spent 35 hours or more in their grandparent's care.

      The other caring patterns were probably accounted for by a mixture of occasional and after school care as well as care provided for children whose main parental carer was in part-time work.
          4.2.7 PROPORTION OF CHILDREN IN THE INFORMAL CARE OF GRANDPARENTS, By weekly hours, June 2002 - Queensland
      Graph, PROPORTION OF CHILDREN IN THE INFORMAL CARE OF GRANDPARENTS, By weekly hours, June 2002, Queensland
        GRANDPARENT FAMILIES
        In addition to the role examined in the Child Care Survey, the Family Characteristics Survey identified grandparents who, for a range of reasons, took on the parental role completely.

        In June 2003, there were 22,500 families in Australia in which a grandparent or both grandparents were the guardians of children aged 0-17 years. In approximately 61% of these 'grandparent families' the younger grandparent or sole grandparent was 55 years or over.

        In Queensland, there were 5,700 'grandparent families' caring for 7,600 children.

            4.2.8 GRANDPARENT FAMILIES, June 2003 - Australia

            Grandparent families
            Children in grandparent families(b)


            '000
            %
            '000
            %

            State of usual residence
            Queensland
            5.7
            25.5
            7.6
            24.3
            Age of younger partner or lone grandparent (years)
            Less than 55
            8.7
            38.7
            13.1
            42.1
            55–64
            10.1
            45.1
            12.9
            41.3
            65 and over
            *3.7
            *16.3
            *5.1
            *16.5
            Australia
            22.5
            100.0
            31.1
            100.0

            * estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.
            (a) Families in which grandparent(s) is/are the guardians of children aged 0–17 years.
            (b) Number of children aged 0–17 years living in families with the specified characteristics.

            Source: Family Characteristics, June 2003, (cat. no. 4442.0)


        PERSONS PROVIDING SUPPORT OUTSIDE THE HOUSEHOLD

        The 2002 General Social Survey (GSS) collected information covering 2,703,000 people aged 18 years or over in Queensland. The survey provides information on support given by adults to relatives living in other households. Persons aged 45-54 years (32%) and persons aged 55-64 years (31%) were the most likely to be the providers of support and 28% of all persons covered by the survey provided support to relatives outside the household.

        The most common form of support provided was driving relatives to places by car (14%). The age group least likely to provide this type of support were persons aged 65 years and over (7.7%).

        Persons aged 45-64 years were more likely to give money to relatives outside their own households for a range of expenses than persons in other age groups.

        In 2002, 9.2% of persons aged 55-64 years gave money to relatives outside their own households to help pay rent and/or other housing costs or to pay for food and 8.3% gave money to pay bills or meet debt.

        Conversely, 9.1% of persons aged 45-54 years gave money to pay bills or meet debt and 7.2% to help pay rent and/or other housing costs or to pay for food.

            4.2.9 SELECTED TYPES OF SUPPORT PROVIDED, By age, 2002 - Queensland

            18-24 years
            25-34 years
            35-44 years
            45-54 years
            55-64 years
            65 years or over
            Total

            NUMBER OF PERSONS (%)

            Family and community support
            Person and/or partner provide support to other relatives living outside the household
            27.9
            28.6
            23.8
            31.8
            31.0
            24.1
            27.8

            Type/s of support provided by person and/or partner to other relatives living outside the household (a)(b)
            Give them money to help pay rent and/or other housing costs or to pay for food
            *5.8
            6.4
            4.4
            7.2
            9.2
            *5.4
            6.3
            Give them money to pay bills or meet debt
            *2.5
            6.4
            *3.6
            9.1
            8.3
            *5.2
            5.9
            Let them borrow car
            8.5
            8.4
            *2.9
            5.8
            *8.0
            7.7
            6.6
            Drive them places
            16.5
            17.5
            12.5
            13.1
            14.0
            7.7
            13.7

            NUMBER OF PERSONS ('000)

            Number of persons aged 18 years or over
            363
            537
            551
            502
            359
            390
            2,703

            * estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.
            (a) Categories are not mutually exclusive.
            (b) Not all categories are shown.

            Source: ABS data available on request, General Social Survey, 2002, (cat. no. 4159.0).


          NOTES
          Carer
          A carer is person of any age who provides any informal assistance, in terms of help or supervision, to persons with disabilities or long-term conditions, or older persons (i.e. aged 60 years and over). This assistance has to be ongoing, or likely to be ongoing, for at least six months. Assistance to a person in a different household relates to 'everyday types of activities', without specific information on the activities. Where the care recipient lives in the same household, the assistance is for one or more of the following activities - cognition or emotion, communication, health care, housework, meal preparation, mobility, paperwork, property maintenance, self care and transport.

          Primary carer
          A primary carer is a person who provides the most informal assistance, in terms of help or supervision, to a person with one or more disabilities. The assistance has to be ongoing, or likely to be ongoing, for at least six months and be provided for one or more of the core activities (communication, mobility and self care). In this survey, primary carers only include persons aged 15 years and over for whom a personal interview was conducted. Persons aged 15 to 17 years were only interviewed personally if parental permission was granted.


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          FURTHER INFORMATION

          ABS Sources

          Disability, Ageing and Carers Theme page
          Family and Community Statistics Theme page

          The data on this page were last updated on 21 July 2005.


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