4430.0 - Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/10/1999   
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October 25, 1999
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

ABS website feature shows extent of caring in Australia

In 1998, there were an estimated 2.3 million carers (12% of the general population) providing assistance to those who needed help because of ageing or disability. One fifth of all carers (19%) were primary carers—people who regularly provided the most informal assistance with activities of daily living, such as self care, mobility or communication. The majority of primary carers were women, comprising 71% of all primary carers aged 15 years and over.

These and other points of interest on carers can be found in a special article, Caring in Australia, on the ABS website.

The article shows that 59% of primary carers aged 15 or over were neither working nor looking for work, almost double the rate for non-carers (32%). The lower rate of labour force participation for primary carers is also reflected in the relative employment rates for primary carers (36%) and those that were not caring for anyone (62%). A majority (56%) of primary carers reported receiving a pension or allowance as their principal source of income.

The employment patterns of primary carers are very similar to those of women in general. Of those 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.

Most primary carers (78%) were living with the main recipient of their care, over one third (35%) of whom were aged 65 and over. In situations where the primary carer and main recipient of care were not living together, 82% of caregivers were women, with the majority (80%) of main care recipients aged 65 and over.

The role of primary carer was most often performed by partners (female 24% and male 19%), daughters (19%) or mothers (19%) of the main recipient of care. People perform the caring role 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', while 53% of partners felt they could provide better care.

The 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 1999.