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4430.0 - Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998, Apr 1999  
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  • Caring in Australia (1998) (Feature Article)

Special Article - Caring in Australia (1998)


This article provides a new analysis of data first released in the ABS publication Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (Cat no. 4430.0) in April 1998.

CARING IN AUSTRALIA

In 1998, there were 2.3 million people who provided some assistance to those who needed help because of disability or ageing. Most people with a disability (96%) who reported a need for assistance had their needs met by either formal or informal means. Assistance was provided for a wide range of activities, and most commonly by family or friends. These activities included self care; mobility; communication; transport and housework. Only 3% of people who needed assistance with the basic activities of daily life (people with a profound or severe activity restriction) and 4% of older people, indicated that their needs for assistance were not met at all. (See Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (Cat. no. 4430.0); p25, p39, p44).

Primary carers are those who regularly provide the most informal assistance with activities of daily living to a person with a disability. Many more women than men take on the primary carer role. Of those primary carers aged 15 years and over, 71% were women, with 57% aged between 15 and 64 years of age and 13% aged 65 years and over.


Carer Status(a), by Age Group
      (a) All persons aged 15 years and over living in households.
      (b) Includes carers other than primary carers, and those who do not perform a caring role.

      Source: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (ABS Cat. no. 4430.0).

EMPLOYMENT

In 1998 the proportion of primary carers who were neither working nor looking for work was almost double that of those who were not in the caring role (59% compared with 32%). This lower rate of labour force participation is also reflected in the relative employment rates for primary carers (36%) and those that were not caring for anyone (62%).


Carer Status(a), by Labour Force Status


      (a) All persons aged 15 years and over, living in households.

      Source: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (ABS Cat. no. 4430.0).

Does the performance of a primary carer role have an effect on a person's participation in the work force, regardless of age or gender? Primary carers are a little more likely to be aged 65 years or more than others (22% compared with 14%), and the majority of primary carers are women. However, age and sex alone do not explain the lower employment rate for primary carers. Assuming that all primary carers in paid work were in the 15 to 64 year age group (as virtually all were), 46% were employed. This is lower than the employment rate for all women aged 15 to 64 (61%). It would appear that the primary caring role does reduce a person's chances of being employed. (See Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (Cat. no. 4430.0); p35, p43, p45, p46).

The employment patterns of primary carers are very similar to those of women in general. Of those who were employed, just over half (53%) of primary carers were in part-time work compared with 49% of all women and 29% of those not performing a caring role. (See Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (Cat. no. 4430.0); p35, p45).


Carer Status(a), by Full-time/Part-time status


      (a) All persons aged 15 years and over, living in households.

      Source: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (ABS Cat. no. 4430.0).

INCOME

The limited employment opportunities for primary carers are also reflected in their relative incomes, with a majority (56%) reporting a pension or allowance as their principal source of income.


Carer Status(a), by Principal Source of Cash Income
      (a) All persons aged 15 years and over, living in households.
      (b) Includes own business or partnership income; other private income such as child support or maintenance, workers' compensation, profit or loss from rental property, dividends or interest, superannuation or annuity; people who report no source of income and principal source of income not known.

      Source: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (ABS Cat. no. 4430.0).

RELATIONSHIPS OF CARE

The primary caring role was most often performed by partners (female 24% and male 19%), daughters (19%) or mothers (19%) of the main recipient of care.


Primary Carers(a), Relationship to Main Recipient of Care

      (a) Aged 15 years and over.
      (b) Includes other relatives, friends etc.

      Source: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (ABS Cat. no. 4430.0).

WHY PEOPLE PROVIDE CARE

People take on the caring role and provide assistance to people in need for different reasons, and in some instances, for a number of reasons. The most commonly reported reason for taking on the primary caring role by children (72%) and parents (59%) was 'family responsibility'. A high proportion of both partners and parents also felt that they could provide better care (53% and 49%) than would otherwise be available. While many carers for parents felt an emotional obligation towards caring (43%), many also felt that there were no other family or friends available (30%) or willing (19%) to take on the role of primary carer.


Primary Carers(a), Reasons for Taking on Caring Role by Relationship to Main Recipient of Care
        (a) Aged 15 years and over.

        Source: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (ABS Cat. no. 4430.0).

MAIN RECIPIENTS OF CARE WHO LIVE WITH THEIR CARER

In situations where the primary carer and main recipient of care were living together, just over one third (35%) of main recipients were aged 65 and over.

Primary Carers(a), Age Group of Co-resident Main Recipient of Care


      (a) Aged 15 years and over.

      Source: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (ABS Cat. no. 4430.0).

Most primary carers aged 65 and over (81%) were caring for people in their own age group. These carers were most often partners of the care recipients. Among primary carers aged 15-44, 43% were caring for children under 15, and another 37% for people in the same age group. The demands on primary carers in the middle age group, 45-64, were more varied with 46% caring for recipients of the same age, 31% caring for recipients aged 65 years and over and 17% caring for someone aged between 15 and 44 years.


Primary Carers(a), Age Group of Primary Carer by Age Group of Main Recipient of Care


      (a) Aged 15 years and over, living in the same household as the main recipient of care.

      Source: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (ABS Cat. no. 4430.0).

MAIN RECIPIENTS OF CARE LIVING ELSEWHERE

In situations where the main recipient of care was not living with the primary caregiver, 82% of caregivers were women, with the majority (80%) of main care recipients aged 65 and over (see table below). Most primary carers not living with the main recipient of care were caring for a parent (63%), while a further 32% were caring for someone other than a partner or child. (See Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (Cat. no. 4430.0); p47).

PRIMARY CARERS(a), AGE GROUP BY AGE GROUP OF MAIN RECIPIENT OF CARE
Main recipient of Care lives elsewhere
Aged less than 65
Aged 65 and over
Total
    Primary carers
'000
'000
'000

    Males
    15-44
**2.7
*3.1
*5.8
    45-64
n.p.
10.0
10.6
    65 and over
n.p.
n.p.
**0.8
    Total
*3.6
13.5
17.1
    Females
    15-44
*7.7
23.4
31.2
    45-64
*7.1
31.9
39.0
    65 and over
n.p.
*7.6
*8.5
    Total
15.7
63.0
78.6
    Persons
    15-44
10.4
26.5
36.9
    45-64
*7.7
41.9
49.6
    65 and over
n.p.
*8.1
9.3
    Total
19.3
76.5
95.8


(a) Aged 15 years and over.

* The estimate has a relative standard error greater than 25%.
** The estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50%.
n.p. not available for publication but included in totals where applicable.

Source: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (ABS Cat. no. 4430.0).


OTHER RELEASES

Disability, Ageing and Carers: User Guide, Australia,1998 (Cat. no. 4431.0) was released on 13th September, 1999.


Carer information is also found in the following State sets of tables, available from ABS Bookshops:

Disability, Ageing and Carers, Summary Tables, New South Wales, 1998 (Cat. no 4430.1.40.001)
Disability, Ageing and Carers, Summary Tables, Victoria, 1998 (Cat. no 4430.2.40.001)
Disability, Ageing and Carers, Summary Tables, Quensland, 1998 (Cat. no 4430.3.40.001)
Disability, Ageing and Carers, Summary Tables, South Australia, 1998 (Cat. no 4430.4.40.001)
Disability, Ageing and Carers, Summary Tables, Western Australia, 1998 (Cat. no 4430.5.40.001)
Disability, Ageing and Carers, Summary Tables, Tasmania, 1998 (Cat. no 4430.6.40.001)
Disability, Ageing and Carers, Summary Tables, Northern Territory, 1998 (Cat. no 4430.7.40.001)
Disability, Ageing and Carers, Summary Tables, Australian Capital Territory, 1998 (Cat. no 4430.8.40.001)

Further information about and from the 1998 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers will be available as follows:
  • A confidentialised unit record file (CURF) on CD-Rom will be released in November 1999.
  • Detailed publications on carers, and people with a disability are planned for release in 2000.

REFERENCES
Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (Cat. no. 4430.0)

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