Individual submission – Julie Couzens

I am a carer

Julie Couzens

I am a carer, unpaid carer evidently is the term used. I have been a carer of various family members at various times, have spent a lot of time caring for 3 of them at one time 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Of course with no support.

My dad who was an alcoholic , bipolar and his cancer battle which he lost, my brother through his battle with drugs , throat cancer /car crash/then till he died with pancreatic cancer, my daughter who is Asperger , deaf in one ear , blind in one eye and with deformed feet ( which means special shoes that aren’t cheap). My Mother is bipolar Asperger , OCD, ODD history of strokes, now has an aortic aneurysm and dementia, she has trouble eating because she was left with 19 rotten teeth for 3 years so by the time she finally had them out she was to old and sick to do anything more than just have them out ( I wonder if the poison from her teeth has anything to do with the dementia )etc.
its not just the day to day caring its the fights and battles for help that never comes. as an asperger my daughter was denied help in school because of her intelligence ” she will work it out for herself , she doesn’t need help she is intelligent. etc etc etc. We finally get one pair of shoes government funded which don’t always last long as she is hard on shoes. we buy her shoes from Homy Ped the only ones that seem to make them wide enough, they average 150.00 plus.
fights to get the government to pay for air plane tickets for my daughter in a wheel chair when she had her feet rebuilt ( they wouldn’t ) thank god for mums master card.
this is just some of my story if I told you the whole thing it would make war and peace look like a one page advert

As a Carer of family I am not recognized as a worker under Australian Law , so the unions and a couple of lawyers tell me. ( So much so when I slipped and fell in a shop not long ago I was told I couldn’t claim compensation because as a carer I am not recognized as a worker so there fore my work isn’t affected…………………..

I get the carer payment ( pittance ) to look after daughter it works out to about 2.95 an hour. for mum I get $50.00 a week. 24/7 who else works those hours??
I don’t qualify for a loan for a fridge etc but if I was on the dole I would.

I am now battling burnout/severe depression /anxiety, as well as physical issues — back problems etc. I live in private rental with mum and daughter, I dread having to move again as I need pain medication just to do the domestic stuff around the house. the physical side of actually moving house . i cant face the thought.
I’m 56 and when so many are thinking about retirement ( what ever age the govt decides that will be ) I don’t have that luxury, I have no superannuation, neither do unpaid carers like me. no minimum wage , weekend /night shift penalty rates , sick pay , holiday pay ( don’t get holidays) when others who are called workers (including those who care for strangers ) get sick they get time off work and others take over the work. unpaid carers don’t have that luxury.
as I’m not a carer I cant get a loan for a fridge let alone a house.
I’m sure u get the picture by now , what we unpaid non working carers want is what all other workers/Australians get , recognition that what we do is work and the privileges that go with it. If we got $10.00 an hour minimum wage that would be approximately $1680.00 and that’s just minimum , no penalty’s included, any wonder the government treats us like slaves??
If all Australians have the same rights whether they are naturalized or born here which is what I was told by the immigration minister then where are my rights and the rights of unpaid carers like me??
I asked XXXX , if nurses are workers and cleaners are workers and those who come here from over seas to pick fruit are workers what are Carers?? I asked him last November , he hasn’t answered my question yet.
I hope you will help us YYYY there is approximately 1 million of us across Australia that need Justice /equality and recognition ( I was told politicians are exempt from all forms of discrimination ) I am a carer seeing a psychiatrist and I am on two types of anti depressants because of the way the government treats carers ( as if we dont exist ) we are expected to do everything with nothing. and at the end of our caring days we have a few weeks to get over it all. find somewhere to live ( if we can afford it) etc etc etc.
I /we need long term affordable housing
I/we need home help
I/we need what we need to care for those in our care I dont beleive that if the NDIS ever gets to Queensland that it will do anything to help.
I/we need recognising as workers and given the same rights eg access to loans.
if I /we get sick we need someone to step in and do what we cant.
what do we have to do to be recognised as Australians with the same rights as those already seen as being Aussie?? What extent would we need to go to, to get some help??to get equality??
I /we want what is owed to us ( carers)

I/we need to be cared for , I cant get proper shoes ,