80 per cent of unpaid carers work more hours than the average full-time worker

A recent study by Carers Queensland has found 59 per cent provided more than 12 hours of care a day. Nearly half said they worked 120 hours or more a week.

To put that figure in perspective, the average full-time Australian worker puts in 40 hours a week.

The ‘Quality of Life’ study surveyed 494 respondents and revealed why many of our unpaid carers are at breaking point.

It’s a figure that will only increase too, with the number of unpaid carers – including sandwich carers, people caring for more than one person across two generations – predicted to rise dramatically in coming years.

An ageing population and rise in chronic diseases such as dementia means many more of us could find ourselves caring for a loved one or in need of care ourselves.

The backbone of our aged care and disability system

Almost 2.7 million Australians are unpaid carers according to the ABS, or around one in ten people. Overall, they contribute $60.3 billion to Australia’s health system according to Deloitte Access Economics – that’s over $1 billion a week.

The number of primary carers has also grown, up to 855,000, with the average age 55 and most women according to the most recent Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) in 2015.

And while caring for others has its rewards, there are downsides too as the research show. The ABS figures found only 56 per cent of primary carers aged 15 to 64 are working, compared to 80 per cent of non-carers.

The weekly median income of primary carers is also 42 per cent lower than non-carers.

They are also more likely to have a disability themselves than the rest of the population.

“Over one-third of primary carers reported having disability themselves, compared with around one in six non-carers,” said ABS Program Manager of Health and Disability Statistics, Justine Boland.
Help at hand

While there were some good findings from the figures – including a seven per cent decrease in the number of unpaid carers caring for over 40 hours a week – unpaid carers need more support and recognition from governments and the community so they can also live their own lives.

Last week was Carers Week, where people are encouraged to thank carers for the important role they play in our community. It’s a great idea, but we can and should be doing more – not just for one week of the year.

There is support available for carers. Call the Carers Gateway contact centre for assistance on free call 1800 422 737 Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm or to request a call back.

Popular Articles

View All Articles
Article Img
What makes a great retirement village manager?

As anyone who lives in a retirement village will tell you, the village manager is a central figure who is critical to the success of the village and the happiness and wellbeing of village residents. But there’s no doubt the village manager plays an essential role. So, what is the role of a retirement village manager?

Article Img
Retirement villages without exit fees? They’re happening!

Retirement villages without exit fees? They’re happening! Now, some of Australia’s largest retirement village operators are looking at new ways to pay for retirement villages that don’t include exit fees – indeed, there are calls for some exit fees to be banned.

Article Img
What sort of profits do retirement village owners make?

The number of Australians over the age of 75 is expected to increase by 70% over the next six years. The number of Australians over the age of 80 is expected to triple to more than 3.5 million over the next 40 years. As the number of older people in Australia surges, so too does demand for age-appropriate housing – such as retirement villages, which offer an affordable lifestyle, community, and ongoing health and wellness support.

Article Img
73% of Australians willing to sacrifice inheritance for aged care

Nearly three-quarters of all Australians are willing to sacrifice their own inheritance so their parents and grandparents can enjoy the retirement they deserve, according to a new report by B2B aged care service CompliSpace.

Article Img
Volunteers are the backbone of the aged care sector, and more are needed

Tens of thousands of people, of all ages, such as 90-year-old Lily Burns and 20-year-old Charlise Hannagan, volunteer in aged care homes. The Change Makers is the theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week, 15 to 21st May, which celebrates the vital work of volunteers.

A special thanks to our contributors

Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the Villages.com.au and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, villages.com.au and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for villages.com.au, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.