More than one in eight Australians are carers but many don’t ask for support out of fear of discrimination or vilification. Carers NSW recognises that every caring situation is unique and supports all carers - regardless of age, culture, sexuality or gender. Support is tailored to the individual needs of the carer. These supports include:
The support that a carer receives from friends and family is often critical in relieving some of the stress associated with the caring role. In GLBTI communities, traditional family support is sometimes not available, or is not adequate. To assist, Carers NSW offers the following services:
While the law does not recognise all relationships, there are steps carers can take to ensure their rights are protected as a same sex partner and carer, especially when someone becomes incapacitated or dies. Not understanding or not being aware of one’s legal rights can affect joint ownership of property, joint bank accounts, guardianship of children, medical decision making and superannuation benefits.[i] If a carer is unsure of his/her legal rights they should seek legal advice. Some important points to be aware of are:
Enduring Guardianship vs Power of Attorney – Enduring guardianship addresses personal and lifestyle decision-making while Power of Attorney relates to financial decision-making. They both recognise a trusted person (or persons), chosen by the person who is incapacitated, to make significant decisions on his/her behalf should he/she no longer be able to make their own decisions due to a disability or illness.[iv]
GLBTI carers may be affected by ongoing changes to state and federal legislation relating to recognition of same sex couples living together in a de facto relationship.
Some benefits that carers in a same sex relationship are entitled to include:
As part of the National Employment Standards, Carers Leave allows full-time employees to claim up to 10 days of their paid personal leave and two days unpaid carer’s leave (per occasion)* per annum in order to care for a spouse, de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling.[v] This applies to same sex de facto couples as defined under the Fair Work Act. Some work places may extend this entitlement to a primary carer who is a ‘friend’. If a carer is in doubt, and feels safe in doing so, he/she may bring this up with their employer.
* This can only be used when all paid personal/carer’s leave is used.
Carers are at a higher risk of burning out, both physically and mentally, due to the demands of their caring role. Looking after personal health is both important for a carer’s wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of the person they care for. It is important for carers to get regular health checks, take time out to do activities that they enjoy and to talk to someone if they are feeling overwhelmed.
While all carers should be able to access services without fear of discrimination or vilification, this is not always the case. In order to minimise the risk of a negative experience, you may contact the Carers NSW Carer Line in order to discuss appropriate referrals to services that are GLBTI friendly.
All staff members at Carers NSW have received Pride in Diversity training. If any person experiences homophobia or transphobia from any employee at Carers NSW then they are encouraged to make a formal complaint through the complaints register or call 02 9280 4744.
ACON 1800 063 060 – www.acon.org.au
Gay & Lesbian Counselling Service of NSW - Sydney Area: 02 8594 9596 // Regional: 1800 18 GLCS
Inner City Legal Centre – 02 9332 1966 - www.iclc.org.au
The Gender Centre - 02 9569 2366 - www.gendercentre.org.au
[iii] GUARDIANSHIP ACT 1987 - SECT 33A. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/ga1987136/s33a.html