In NSW, 1 in 10 people are carers with more than 904,400 people across the state providing unpaid support to members of the community.
Carers provide regular support to people who need it because they have disability, chronic illness, mental health issues, dementia or are frail aged. People are also carers if they are looking after a child who has additional longer-term needs compared to a child of a similar age.
Every year we celebrate the contribution of carers during Carers Week. Stories displayed on this page celebrate carers that were recognised at the 2018 Carers Awards.
This year we are raising awareness and understanding of carers by acknowledging carers through a range of activities, rather than a single awards ceremony. You can find out more information about events here.
Celebrating the 2018 Carer of the Year – Ivy Lau.
Ivy Lau - 2018 NSW Carer of the Year
Ivy has been caring for her daughter who lives with Down Syndrome for the past 28 years and her husband who lives with Parkinson’s disease for the last 10 years. On top of her caring role, she works full time as an IT application specialist, and is an active member of the Chinese Parents Association for Children with Disabilities Inc., where she runs computer sessions for people with disabilities and organises musical performances.
Melissa has three children - a daughter, and two adopted sons (initially foster children) who were both diagnosed with autism and other conditions as babies. Her older son Matt experiences a speech delay and has scoliosis, anxiety and auditory intolerances.
Melissa is a strong advocate for children with special needs and lobbies for services and opportunities specifically in education. She successfully campaigned for the establishment of the first multi-category facility for high school students with disability in the Parramatta district, at Merrylands High School. She also cares for her elderly neighbours, helping them with their cleaning and home maintenance.
Brenda cares for her 40 year old son James who has Smith-Magenis Syndrome, a chromosomal disorder. She ceased paid work to care for his needs and has made huge efforts to ensure his independence – for example by setting up an apartment for him where she stays with him five nights a week as well helps him with his shopping and all his needs and wants (he receives 27 hours formal support care each week through the NDIS). They try to have as much fun as possible and a social life full of different experiences.
Brenda has also made magnificent contributions to her community through roles such as Secretary of NSW South Coast Region Special Olympics and Secretary of Management Committee of Yumaro Industries. She has had many volunteer roles, including P&C committees, steering an early intervention centre in the outback, driver of a bus for her son’s disability enterprise and lots more of driving folk here, there and everywhere.
Genevieve & her husband John lovingly care for their son Anthony, who is 55 years old. Anthony was in a car accident 36 years ago, where he sustained an acquired brain injury and total blindness. Tragically his brother John was killed in this accident. Anthony requires 24 hour care, has no short term memory and often wakes at night a few times. He constantly paces around the house when he is awake (day and night) as he feels he must keep on the move. Genevieve attends 3 Bridges Carer Support groups, workshops and outings. The Groups are a support to her and John. Genevieve also gives back to other Carers in the group with her caring wisdom & by entertaining and singing Irish songs to brighten up everyone’s day. She is described as “the most positive, resilient, darling, beautiful person.”
Cleo is student at Mosman High School. She cares for her mother, who has serious health conditions including leucopenia, a blood disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and skin cancer. Before and after school and on weekends Cleo helps to cook, clean, do the shopping and checks that her mother takes her medication. Cleo provides emotional support to her mother, manages her doctors appointments and calls her mother every recess and lunchtime to support her emotional health.
Cleo works part time and baby sits whilst she is preparing for the HSC next year. Her money contributes to the household. Cleo also volunteers for the Gidget Foundation, a service supporting women and men with pre and post natal depression and prevention of suicide.
Cleo has been nominated by her school. Her Deputy Principal says that she is very happy and supportive to all of her friends and does not compare herself regardless of what they have.
Walter (Wally) Williams
Wally cared for his wife Wendy who suffered from petit mal paranoia and schizophrenia for 50 years until she passed away two years ago. He also cares for their two sons with disability aged 50 and 47. David now lives in supported accommodation but Wally's younger son Andrew still lives with him. Andrew is totally dependent on Wally and requires 24 hour care and often presents challenging behaviours which Wally has managed. Wally arranges for Andrew to attend a sheltered workshop and go to bowling and cooking classes weekly, also to do his banking and shopping and ensures Andrew has a holiday every year.
Wally was a member of Apex club for 10 years and is now an active member of the Nowra Lions Club with over 34 years service to Lions. He has filled many positions including Treasurer and Secretary. He was also awarded the highest honour you can receive in Lions he was made a Melvin Jones Fellow for Dedicated Humanitarian Services.
Allan cares for his wife who is hemiplegic and has an amputation of the left arm. He himself suffered a stroke which affects his speech, and has survived two episodes of cancer and a recent operation.
Allan has also cared for his three children who have had serious health issues and multiple operations. He cared for his mother during her final stages of life and also minds his grandson. Allan volunteers in the archery club and is the treasurer of the body corporate. He is also well known as the local handyman who helps fix things for people when they need it.
When his wife became hemiplegic he encouraged her to take up archery and supported her by making all the arrows, fitting her equipment so it custom fit, teaching her and taking her to competitions. She became a world champion archer. He has many of his own health issues, but never complains about a thing.
Manda is 17 and cares for her father who has Parkinsons Disease and multisystem atrophy. She and her older sister Saimat and their younger sister provide a lot of care to both their parents – as their mum also has some health issues. The family background is Iraqi.
Manda in particular struggles to find time for her studies and has sought support from Anglicare’s Young Carers Program for tutoring.
Manda provides a lot of physical care for her father and attends many appointments and hospital visits with him. She worries about her father and all her responsibilities.
Yvonne provides care to her mother and aunty, two of the most senior elders and traditional owners of land in La Perouse, who both have dementia. She also provides care for other elders in the community. Her youngest daughter has an intellectual disability and Yvonne advocates on behalf of her and other members of the community, including other carers. She has also cared for her grand-nephew for 14 years.
Yvonne is the Chairperson of the Guriwal Aboriginal Corporation, Aged Care and Disability Service of La Perouse. She educates the community that their cultural role is also a caring role.
Joanne is an Aboriginal woman who has had a lifetime of caring. She cares for her partner who has cancer, has been a foster carer for Koori kids for the last 18 years and also cares for her mother who has schizophrenia and chronic health problems. She also has a brother who is hearing impaired. Joanne left school at 14 years of age to support her parents in caring for her five siblings.
Joanne has always been active in her community, hosting events such as a cystic fibrosis fundraiser (her granddaughter has cystic fibrosis), supporting a family who lost a parent, as well as Mothers Day and Fathers day stalls.
Swati is a carer for her 28-year-old daughter Geeta who has severe intellectual disability, mobility issues and uncontrolled epilepsy with drop seizures. Geeta is non-verbal and requires 24-hour care in all aspects of daily living.
Together with her sisters, Swati also cared for her parents after they had a major car accident in 2007 when they moved in with her for an extended period. She continues to care for her mother 4 days per week since her father’s death in 2010.
Swati is a clinical pharmacist and works part time at Bankstown Hospital. She is a strong advocate of people with disabilities and their carers who visit the hospital and equally draws strength from interaction with them.
Previously a member of the Disability and Carer Access Committee Swati has organised NDIS information session at the hospital.
Swati is actively involved in the Indian community’s cultural and social activities. She is well supported by her husband Sanjay, extended family and friends. Both Swati and Sanjay are striving to achieve Geeta’s goals by self-managing her NDIS plan.
Wendy has cared for her husband and her son and for over 30 years, both having multiple sclerosis. Before her son (who has sadly recently passed away) was placed in a nursing home, Wendy both worked and provided care to her son. She also advocated for better support at home and more suitable accommodation options for younger people rather than nursing homes.
Wendy is now retired but is involved in the hospital auxiliary as a volunteer. She volunteers for St Vincent De Paul and makes quilts for the hospital. She regularly picks up the “oldies” and takes them to mass, as well as taking friends to doctors appointments.
Sydney Local Health District
Sydney Local Health District (SLHD) is recommended for this award for being a carer-aware workplace.
They have created a staff survey to gain insights into staff with caring responsibilities, concerns and how SLHD can better support our SLHD staff carers.
They are developing a suite of resources to promote working carers rights and available supports.
SLHD will be providing tailored support to SLHD staff carers. This support will include a SLHD Staff Carer Wellness Assessment, followed by the development of a Carer Wellness Plan to support staff carers.
SLHD is also active during Carers Week. This year’s focus is on the launch of
‘CHAT –Carers Health and Thoughts’ SLHD carers registry. The aim of CHAT is to improve the conversation between carers and SLHD.
The development of a Mobile Information Carer Centre (MICC) has also improved carer access to resources and information.
SLHD also encourages carer engagement through their Carers Committee, which meets regularly to provide carer input into policies and programs. Carers of patients in the LHD are also invited to share their experience through a ‘client journey’ interview or by joining the SLHD Community Participation Network’.