National Carers Day

(8am 18 October 2011, Martin Place Sydney)

I would like firstly to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, and pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.

I acknowledge attendees, Premier Barry O'Farrell, Minister for Ageing & Disability Andrew Constance, Carers CEO Elena Katrakis, Centrelink Sydney Zone Service Leader Will Graton and Centrelink Indigenous Ambassador Arthur Beetson.

Today's event to celebrate the heroic and humble contribution of carers and how important it is to give them a break.

Carers' contributions go beyond the assistance they give to the person they care for, whether its helping someone feed, bathe, dress or administer medication, or the emotional support they provide to vulnerable and often isolated people in our community.

Carers also contribute to the wider community by reducing the burden that would otherwise be placed on our already stretched health system.

In fact, the annual saving to New South Wales taxpayers has been estimated at $10 billion.

This contribution is often at the expense of a carer's own health and economic wellbeing.

The City's Social Policy and Community Support team provide much needed assistance and support to frail older people, younger people with a disability and their carers.

All services are provided free of charge or at low cost and include meals on wheels, centre-based day care for frail older people and carers, family support and early intervention program for families with children who have special needs and we provide funding to organisations that support carers through our Community Grants program.

When I think about carers I think about one woman dealing with breast cancer and who is the mother of a child with autism.

She has devoted time and effort to getting the best possible educational support for him because she knows it will make the difference to his need for care in future.

Amazingly, on top of this, she also campaigns to get better disability services.

I also think of a 76-year-old woman who has been coming into my electorate office since 2002, seeking help with respite care for her adult son, who she alone cares for 24 hours a day, six days a week—she is able to get respite care for him on the seventh day.

She has had to fight each six months or year to get this one day of respite care, and understandably remains very concerned about her son's future when she is no longer here to help him.

Another constituent watched his partner of many years deteriorate mentally, with the loss of continence and the associated embarrassment, caring for her at home until it became too much and he was able to find her a place in an aged care facility where at least he could visit and see her.

These examples highlight how courageous carers are - while their lives are deeply affected, their ongoing resilience and patience for their loved ones is truly inspiring, truly heroic.