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4436.0 - Caring in the Community, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012
CHARACTERISTICS OF CARERS
The number of carers in 2012 (2.7 million) was similar to that in 2003 (2.6 million). However, the proportion of Australians who were carers decreased from 13.0% to 11.9% between 2003 and 2012. This pattern is consistent with changes in disability prevalence in Australia, with the proportion of Australians who had a disability decreasing from 20.0% to 18.5% in the same period. Females made up the majority of carers, representing 69.7% of primary carers and 56.1% of all carers in 2012.
The number of male carers remained steady between 2003 and 2012, at about 1.2 million. However the proportion of males who were carers decreased from 12.0% to 10.5%. The number of female carers increased 9.3%, from 1.4 million in 2003 to 1.5 million in 2012. Over the same period, the proportion of females who were carers decreased from 14.1% to 13.3%. (Table 1)
In 2012, around 304,900 carers were less than 25 years old, 683,700 were aged 25 to 44 years, 1.1 million were aged 45 to 64 years and 580,000 were aged 65 years and over.
Graph 1. CARERS AS A PROPORTION OF THE AUSTRALIAN POPULATION, 2003–2012
Country of birth and English proficiency
In 2012, of the 2.6 million carers aged 15 years or over, around 674,300 (25.7%) were born in a country other than Australia. Of the carers who were born overseas, the United Kingdom was the most common place of birth (26.4% of all overseas born carers), followed by New Zealand (8.2%).
Furthermore, 232,600 carers aged 15 years and over (8.9% of carers) reported a language other than English as being the main language they spoke at home. The majority of this group (71.8%) reported that they spoke English well or very well. (Table 6)
Being a carer can impact a person's labour force participation. In 2012, the labour force participation rate of carers aged 15 years or over was similar to that in 2003, at around 56%. Carers were less likely to participate in the labour force than non-carers, 56.3% compared with 69.3% in 2012. The labour force participation rates for male carers remained similar between 2003 and 2012 (63.7% and 62.1%). The labour force participation rate for female carers was also similar between 2003 and 2012 (49.7% and 52.0%). Furthermore, the labour force participation rate for primary carers in 2012 was similar to that in 2009, 41.8% compared to 42.3%.
In 2012, the employment to population ratio (the number of employed persons as a percentage of the total population aged 15 years and above) for carers was similar to 2003 (52.4% for 2012, and 52.9% for 2003). Female carers were less likely to be employed than male carers, 48.6% compared with 57.3%.
For those aged 15 years and over, the employment to population ratio for primary carers (38.4%) and other carers (58.3%) was lower than that for non-carers (65.9%). Of the males who were identified as primary carers, around a quarter worked full-time (27.1%) and a further 11.0% were employed on a part-time basis. For female primary carers, only 14.6% were employed on a full-time basis and around a quarter employed part-time (23.9%).
Although the labour force participation rates for carers were fairly steady between 2003 and 2012, the proportion of carers who were unemployed increased from 5.7% to 7.1%. In contrast to carers, the unemployment rate of non-carers remained steady between 2003 and 2012 (5.3% and 5.0%, respectively). The unemployment rates of female carers were similar between 2003 and 2012 (6.4% and 6.5%, respectively). The unemployment rate for male carers increased 2.5 percentage points, from 5.1% to 7.6%. Over the same period, the unemployment rate for male non-carers remained stable (5.2% and 4.8%, respectively).
The proportion of carers who were underemployed (wanted to and were available to work more hours) was higher than non-carers in 2012 (8.4% for carers, compared with 6.3% for non-carers). Female carers were also more likely to be underemployed than male carers (9.8% and 6.8%, respectively). (Table 3)
Of all persons in households with known income, carers were more likely than non-carers to have household incomes in the lowest two quintiles for equivalised gross household income in 2012 (53.1% and 38.0%, respectively). Almost two thirds of primary carers (64.5%) resided in a household with equivalised gross household income in the lowest two quintiles. There were similar proportions of male and female carers living in a household with equivalised gross household income in the lowest two quintiles (52.7% and 53.6%). (Table 5)
For all Australians aged 15 years and over, those who were carers were less likely to have completed a bachelor degree or above than non-carers across all age groups (17.8%, compared to 23.2%). The proportion of primary carers who completed a bachelor degree or above was 15.4%. Carers were more likely to have completed a certificate or diploma as their highest level of educational attainment than non-carers (30.2%, compared to 26.6%).
Female carers were less likely to have a bachelor degree or above than females who were non-carers (18.6% and 25.0%, respectively). Although female carers aged 25 to 44 were more likely to have a bachelor degree or above than other carer age groups (25.2%), they were less likely than female non-carers, 39.6% of the same age group. Male carers were less likely to have completed a bachelor degree or above than male non-carers (16.8% and 21.5%). (Table 9 and Graph 2)
Graph 2. CARERS AGED 15 YEARS AND OVER, Highest level of educational attainment–2012
Carers of a young age
In 2012, there were 74,800 carers aged less than 15 years and a further 231,200 carers aged 15 to 24, making up 2.8% and 8.6% of all carers in Australia. For carers aged less than 15 years, 45.2% were males and 53.2% were females. For carers aged 15 to 24, 49.3% were males and 50.4% were females. (Table 1)
The proportion of carers aged 15 to 24 who were studying full-time or part-time was 57.7% which was similar to the proportion of non-carers studying (60.8%). (Table 9)
The labour force participation rate of carers aged 15 to 24 was 72.4%. This was similar to the labour force participation rate of non-carers in the same age group (69.5%). However, carers aged 15 to 24 were almost twice as likely to be unemployed than other 15 to 24 year olds who did not have a caring role (20.0% and 11.6%, respectively). The proportion of carers aged 15 to 24 who were underemployed (wanted to and were available to work more hours) was 19.1% and 14.2% for non-carers of the same age. (Table 7)
In 2012, 59.6% of carers aged less than 15 years and 52.8% of these aged 15 to 24 were residing in a household with equivalised gross household income in the lowest two quintiles. The proportions of non-carers who had a household income in the lowest two quintiles was lower, 43.6% for non-carers aged under 15 and 34.3% for 15 to 24 year olds. (Table 5)
Co-resident carer is a person of any age who provides any informal assistance to one or more persons with a disability or aged 65 years and over, where the recipient(s) of the care lives in the same household with the carer. Co-resident carers can be either a primary carer or non-primary carer. In 2012, about 1.9 million carers (70.9% of all carers) lived in the same household as one or more of the recipients they provided care to. Females made up 52.6% of co-resident carers. (Table 4)
Relationships of carer to recipient(s) of care
Of the 1.9 million co-resident carers in 2012, 45.5% were the partner of their recipient, 20.0% were a child, 23.4% were a parent, 4.2% were a sibling and 11.6% had some other caring relationship with one or more persons in the household.
The majority of co-resident carers who were aged under 15 years or 15 to 24 were the child of a recipient(s), providing care to their parent(s) (58.4% and 66.2% respectively). About half of co-resident carers aged 45 to 64 were the partner of their recipient (50.9%). Furthermore, 81.4% of co-resident carers aged 65 years and over were caring for their partners.
Graph 3. CO-RESIDENT CARER'S RELATIONSHIP TO RECIPIENT(S) OF CARE, By age of carer–2012
Types of assistance provided to recipient(s)
The most common types of assistance reported by recipient(s) as being received from their co-resident carers were related to mobility (40.5%), followed by household chores (37.6%) and cognitive or emotional tasks (34.7%). About half of the co-resident carers (54.7%) reported that they assist their recipient(s) with one or more of the core activities in self-care, mobility, or communication.
Graph 4. TYPES OF ASSISTANCE PROVIDED BY CO-RESIDENT CARERS, By sex–2012
The relationship between the carer and recipient(s) may influence the types of assistance that were more commonly provided. For example, co-resident carers who were a parent of a recipient(s) were more likely to assist their child(ren) with emotional and cognitive tasks (65.6%) than with all other types of assistance. While 19.2% of carers who were the child of the recipient(s) were helping their co-resident parent(s) with cognitive or emotional tasks, the most common assistance they provided to their parent(s) was with housework (50.9%). (Table 13)
Between 2009 and 2012, there was no significant change in the number or the proportion of primary carers. There were 769,800 primary carers in 2012, representing 28.6% of all carers in Australia. Females made up more than two thirds of all primary carers (69.7%) (Table 1). In this survey, a person can only be a primary carer if they are aged 15 years and over.
Time and duration spent on caring
In 2012, 38.9% of primary carers reported spending, on average, 40 hours or more per week caring for their main recipient of care, 19.5% reported spending between 20 and 40 hours and 38.5% reported spending less than 20 hours caring in an average week. The proportion of primary carers who reported spending 40 hours or more per week caring increased from 34.9% in 2009 to 38.9% in 2012. Conversely, the proportion of primary carers who reported spending less than 20 hours decreased from 44.4% to 38.5% between 2009 and 2012. (Table 17 and Graph 5)
Graph 5. PRIMARY CARERS AVERAGE CURRENT WEEKLY HOURS SPENT CARING FOR MAIN RECIPIENT, 2009 and 2012
Of the 299,300 primary carers who provided care for more than 40 hours on average per week, 28,400 primary carers (9.5%) had also been providing care to their recipient for more than 25 years. Almost two thirds of primary carers (61.6%) whose main recipients aged less than 15 years reported spending 40 hours or more per week caring. (Table 17)
Effect of caring role on work and financial wellbeing
Primary carers may often need to give up time from work and forego income to support their recipient(s) of care. In 2012, 448,300 (58.2%) of primary carers were not in the labour force (this includes 175,800 primary carers aged 65 years and over who were not in the labour force), 295,600 (38.4%) primary carers were employed and 26,300 (3.4%) were unemployed. More than half of primary carers reported a government pension or allowance as their main source of income (54.9%). (Table 20 and Graph 6)
Graph 6. MAIN SOURCE OF PRIMARY CARERS' PERSONAL INCOME, By age–2012
Many primary carers also reported that their financial well-being was impacted due to their caring responsibilities: 17.5% of primary carers reported having extra expenses and difficulty meeting everyday living costs, while 16.6% reported decreased income and difficulty meeting everyday living costs as the main financial impact.
Of the 295,600 primary carers who were employed full-time or part-time, similar proportions of primary carers reported that they needed time off from work to care for their main recipient (37.0% and 33.0%, respectively). Primary carers, who on average spent less than 20 hours per week caring for their main recipient, were less likely to need time off work (27.1%) than those who spent 20 to 39 hours caring (43.5%) or those who spent 40 hours or more (48.0%). (Table 18)
Physical and emotional wellbeing and personal relationships
Being a carer may entail physical and emotional impacts. In 2012, about half of all primary carers (50.4%) reported having experienced a negative impact such as feeling weary, often feeling angry, resentful, worried, depressed, or having a stress-related illness. Furthermore, 48.2% reported that their sleep was interrupted either frequently or occasionally. Despite these impacts, 27.8% of primary carers reported that they felt satisfied due to their caring role. (Table 24 and Graph 7)
Graph 7. PRIMARY CARERS' PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL WELLBEING, By sex–2012
Being a primary carer can affect carers’ relationships with others. Many primary carers reported that caring had brought them closer together with their main recipient (43.4%). About half of primary carers were caring for their partner (50.8%). Of those primary carers who provided care to a person other than their partner, 40.9% reported that their caring responsibility had not affected their relationship with the partner, and 31.5% reported that their caring role had brought them closer to their partner. In addition, 60.1% of primary carers reported that their circle of friends had not been affected, whereas 21.6% reported they were losing touch with existing friends. (Table 25)
Primary carers’ need and receipt of assistance
In 2012, 41.5% of primary carers reported their main source of assistance was a formal or informal provider. Of the 319,800 primary carers who reported having some source of assistance, the majority (82.8%) reported that their main source of assistance was informal. Primary carers most commonly reported their partner as their main source of assistance (14.3% of all primary carers). Female primary carers were more likely to have a formal or informal assistance than male primary carers (45.8% and 31.4%, respectively).
A quarter of primary carers (24.5%) reported that they needed further assistance with their caring role, including 13.9% of primary carers who had received assistance but needed more. Female primary carers were more likely to have reported needing further assistance than male primary carers (26.5% compared to 20.2%).
Four in ten primary carers reported they were satisfied with the range of services available to help them in their caring role. However, a quarter of primary carers (25.9%) reported they did not know about the range of services available to help them.
While only 7.2% of primary carers reported a formal provider as their main source of assistance, 38.0% reported that they had received some assistance from formal services in the last six months (at the time of the survey) to help with their caring role. Male primary carers were less likely to have received any organised services than female primary carers (28.4% and 42.4%, respectively). Of those primary carers who did receive assistance, around three quarters reported they were satisfied with the quality of those services. (Table 28)
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