(a) Persons aged 15 years and over for whom a personal interview was conducted. Persons 15-17 years were only interviewed if parental permission was granted.
(b) Males and females providing primary care as a proportion of total population for each sex (including carers and non-carers).
Source: ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 4430.0).
PROVIDING PRIMARY CARE TO A PERSON WITH A DISABILITY
In 2009, over two-thirds (68%) of all primary carers were females. A higher proportion of females aged 15 years and over (6%) than males (3%) identified themselves as primary carers who provided primary care to persons with a disability.
People who provide care outside of institutions perform an important service, allowing people with disabilities to live in the community rather than institutions. (Endnote 1)
Caring can also have beneficial effects for the carers, such as emotional satisfaction and strengthened relationships with those cared for. As well as the positive effects, a caring role may also have negatives. A person's ability to study, work or be involved in community activities may be limited by the time spent caring. The extent to which carers may miss out on various opportunities depends on the intensity, duration and timing of the care they provide. (Endnote 2)
Primary carers by age
There were gender differences in the distribution of males and females as primary carers across the age groups. The highest concentrations of female primary carers were in the age groups between 35 and 64 years. This may represent the ages where the need to care for a child with disability converges with elderly parents needing assistance. Over one fifth (21%) of female primary carers were in the 35-44 year age group and a further 23% were in the 45-54 year age group.
The proportions of male primary carers were higher in older age groups. A quarter of male primary carers were in the 55-64 year age group, 19% in the 65-74 year age group and another 17% in the 75 years and over age group.
Labour force status of primary carers
More than half of the primary carers were not in the labour force. There was also no difference between the proportion of male and female primary carers who were employed (each 40%). However, a higher proportion of male primary carers were employed full-time than were female primary carers (28% and 16% respectively), whereas a higher proportion of female primary carers were employed part-time (25%) than were male primary carers (12%).
Relationship with main recipient of care
Caring for a child, partner or parent who has a disability is predominantly a family role. (Endnote 3) Where a parent or a child was receiving care, female relatives were more likely to undertake this role.
In 2009, just over one fifth of male and female primary carers (21% and 24% respectively) provided primary care to a parent with a disability. Of those providing primary care to parents, 70% were female. Around 5% of male primary carers and 30% of female primary carers provided primary care to a child with a disability. Almost 92% of primary carers to children with disabilities were female.
Two-thirds of male primary carers (67%) were providing primary care to a partner, although women were more likely than men, on average, to be providing primary care to a partner. Females were more likely to undertake the role of primary carer (79%) when the recipient of the care was other than a parent, child or partner.
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010, (cat. no. 1370.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2009, Australian Social Trends, Sep 2009, (cat. no. 4102.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2001, Australian Social Trends, 2001, (cat. no. 4102.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.