Who are carers?

A carer is any individual who provides care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, mental illness, drug and/or alcohol dependency, chronic condition, terminal illness or who is frail.

Carers come from all walks of life, cultural backgrounds and age groups.

For many, caring is a 24 hour-a-day job with emotional, physical and financial impacts that can also affect their participation in employment, education and community activities.

Across NSW, there are approximately 854,300 carers [i], comprising individuals as young as eight years of age through to the very elderly.

Carers exist in all communities, including Aboriginal communities, those of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, LGBTQI+ [ii] communities, and throughout metropolitan, regional, rural and remote NSW.

Many people in caring roles do not identify as carers and as such are often not linked to services and supports that can assist them. These individuals are often referred to as ‘hidden carers’.

How do people become carers?

People become carers in different ways.

Sometimes it happens gradually - helping out more and more as a person's health and independence deteriorates over time. It may also happen very suddenly, after a health crisis (like a stroke or heart attack) or an accident.

It's not uncommon for carers to feel that they don't have any choice in their caring role. Even in large families the responsibility of providing care often falls to one person rather than being shared. In other situations, there may be only one person to take on the caring role.

Many carers feel that caring is what they should do.

What do carers do?

Every situation is different.

Some carers provide 24 hour nursing to a family member with high care needs. They help with daily needs and activities like feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting, lifting and moving and administering medications.

Other carers support people who are fairly independent, but may need someone to keep an eye on them, or help them with tasks like banking, transport, shopping and housework.

Most carers give comfort, encouragement and reassurance to the person they care for, oversee their health and wellbeing, monitor their safety and help them stay as independent as possible. Carers help the person they care for to have a good quality of life.

Often the extent of the support provided by carers isn't obvious to those around them. Even family and friends can underestimate the amount of time and energy spent caring, particularly when the kinds of assistance given aren't physical.

Who does Carers NSW support?

The word 'carer' can be confusing. Many carers don't use this word to describe themselves, and it can sometimes be difficult to know whether we are the right organisation to help you.

We can help if you provide unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, mental illness, drug and alcohol dependencies, chronic condition, terminal illness, or who is frail.

  • You do not need to live with the person you care for
  • You do not need to be the main source of care and support
  • You do not have to provide care every day, or over many years
  • You do not have to receive the Carer Payment or Carer Allowance from Centrelink.

Call Carers NSW on 02 9280 4744 to find out more about the support we offer and other services available to you or visit the How can we help? page for more information on Carers NSW programs.

[i] Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers 2018

[ii] LGBTI – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans/Gender diverse, Queer or Questioning and Intersex.



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Carers NSW acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land, Elders past and present and all Aboriginal people.