The economic value of informal mental health care in Australia is not small change: researchers at the University of Queensland’s School of Public Health have found that carers provided 208 million hours of care annually – which would cost $14.3 billion to replace with paid carers. QAMH and Arafmi welcome the opportunity to provide a joint submission to the Committee Secretary for the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs (the Committee) to inform the inquiry into the recognition of unpaid carers. Our submission to this inquiry is informed by consultation with our members, who include people with lived experience of caring for a person experiencing mental health challenges, and organisations representing mental health carers. This joint submission makes the following broad comments on the legislation:
- A broader definition of “carer” is needed;
- The Statement for Australia’s Carers is far from being realised;
- Language used in the Act needs to be updated;
- A stronger, clearer framework for reporting and enforcement is required;
- There is an opportunity to broaden the scope of the legislation to workplaces; and
- There are a wide range of other concerns raised by carers which could be considered for inclusion in the Act.