The costs of caring and the living standards of carers (FACHSIA)

Informal carers are people who provide unpaid help, support or assistance to family members or friends with disability, chronic illness, mental illness, other illness, or alcohol or other drug problems. Recent estimates suggest that around 16% of the adult population in Australia provide informal care and that the majority of people who require help or assistance receive support from family or friends.

The economic value of the contribution of informal carers to the Australian economy has been estimated at over $40 billion a year, if all the care was to be replaced by formal services (Access Economics 2010). The social value of informal care is immense, because care provided by family or friends enables others to remain in their home, connected to their family and community. Yet the available evidence suggests that, under the current policy settings, the contribution of informal carers may significantly affect the lives of the individual carers.

This project addressed this issue by investigating three research questions:

* What is known about the direct costs incurred in informal caring as distinct from the indirect costs of care?

* What are the most robust methods to investigate the direct costs of care and what data are available in Australia to do so?

* What are the living standards of different subgroups of carers in Australia and what might this imply about the direct costs of care?

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