Logo of two hands holding up a person with text saying Every person with a disability has a right to be safe healthy and happy

20

OCTOBER, 2017

An article for
National Carers Week

Over Fifties Carers are the Holden Workers of the Disability Sector

by | Disability

The NDIS is an amazing scheme for people with disabilities, but for the over fifties carers, who will be left behind as their loved ones become independent, it can be a scary time.

We are the Holden workers of the Disability sector – but unlike them, we get no support.

I just watched Jay Weatherill, Premier of SA, talk about how much assistance had been given, and would continue to be given, to Holden workers as the factory closes today.

In particular, both the Premier and the manufacturing union secretary singled out those workers over fifty, as needing a lot of support because it is far harder to find work at that age.

I believe the over fifties workers made “redundant” from their caring role because of the NDIS need the same type of assistance.

But it’s not being offered or even considered by either the State or Federal Governments.

The NDIS is changing lives

“Thank goodness for the NDIS” has been my mantra for the last few years.

I knew it would change my son’s life and hopefully secure his future.

I also knew it would change my life and potentially put my future at risk.

You see I am 57.

My caring role has meant that over the last 25 years, on multiple occasions I have had to give up my IT jobs and be on the carer’s pension for extended periods.

I have twice accessed my meagre superannuation early to get wheelchair accessible vehicles because they’re not funded by any government (including under the NDIS). No superannuation left now.

I have a back injury and recurrent mental health issues – both directly related to my caring role.

“In the last 15 years, I have saved the taxpayers approximately $2.2 million (24/7 complex needs support)”

When my son was abused in supported accommodation in 2013, I brought him home to safety. I then used most of my savings while on unpaid leave for 5 months fighting with the disability service provider. All fruitless effort – so I then resigned my job again.

This all happened 4 weeks after I had returned to work after three months unpaid leave for cancer treatment.

It wasn’t a great year!

“To try and prepare for unemployment, I’ve spent $4000+ of my savings to do two Cert IV courses this year”

Who is taking pic of who is taking pic?

The NDIS is totally focussed on the person with disability.

I understand that and welcome the funding of supports to enable my son and other people with disabilities to live their lives included in society and to not be segregated or discriminated against – and of course, to be safe, healthy and happy.

I also understand that the younger parents of people with disability will now, under the NDIS, hopefully get enough support so they have the same opportunities to retain or gain employment like all other parents do and will never find themselves in the positions that I and many older carers like me have.

I celebrated with joy the day in August when I moved my son to his new rental property in Melbourne. It was 7 years in the planning.

But I knew it was also the day I became “redundant” .. and probably unemployable.

I am extremely fortunate that I have skills and had some savings behind me to let me get some training and start this business. I am hoping it will earn enough to pay the mortgage so I am not forced to sell my home.

There are lots of over fifties carers that are not so fortunate .. what about their future?

The State and Federal Governments urgently need to address this issue and provide similar retraining, re-entering the workforce and financial assistance as the Holden workers are receiving.

Over fifties carers are people that have saved taxpayers a fortune over decades.

It’s time they got something back.