National Carers Week


During National Carers week, people are asked to become involved by attending or hosting an event. This can be a morning tea, afternoon tea, a walk or some other activity to raise awareness of the diversity of carers and caring roles, who they are and what they do.

What is a carer? – Well … a carer is anyone who cares (paid or unpaid) for a friend, family member or client who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.

Today’s blog is about the ‘unpaid carer’.

Am I correct in thinking that carers come about through necessity and not by choice? I read and re-read this assumption several times and think about how I came to be a carer. I guess it was out of necessity, but also it was my choice  to do it out of love for a family member. So whilst it sounds a bit harsh it also rings true! 2013_05_31_elderly_people_holding_hands_large

Words you hear often are that carers tend to neglect their own needs for that of the person being cared for. To a certain extent this is true, but unpaid carers often find it hard to take time out. In the case of one documentary I watched recently, the carers felt that only they could provide the standard of care needed and because the illness was terminal they wanted their daughter to see their faces in her last moments. This type of caring puts a strain on the whole family and in this situation the two older sisters had been totally neglected … is this fair?

There are many reasons carers work providing unpaid care, from financial necessity to social interaction or down to the fact that placements are just not there.  Recently whilst looking for a place for Sharon I found there was not a place anywhere and our nearest offer was Melbourne which is 1000 km away. After having someone in my life for 42 years and her brother’s life for 60 years we could not dream of sending her there to be alone without any family members.

Although caring can and did have many positive and rewarding aspects, there were times when balancing these two roles was challenging.  Caring can have an impact on many facets of your life in that you can become physically as well as emotionally exhausted. This can be because of suffering,  pain or confusion on the face of the loved one. Time and time again you hear stories of emotional suffering of carers in caring for loved ones with dementia.  If you know a carer give them a hug, cup of tea or even just the time of day, not only during National Carers Week but all year round.

A current Honorary Member of CWA of NSW, Mr Jack Heath, is CEO of SANE Australia. Sane Australia offers the following advice and tips:

  • Caring can lead to stress, depression and other mental health issues.
  • Caring can affect your relationship with your partner or other family members.
  • If you are caring in a couple you may no longer be able to have the physical or emotional life you had together, nor enjoy shared activities or plan for a future together.
  • Find local care and carer services near you
  • Connect with other carers online and get support from our online communities
  • Young carers can find it hard to go to school/college/university or keep up with course work.
  • Give them time. Some people might prefer a text message or email rather than talking on the phone or face-to-face. This means they can get back to you when they feel ready. What’s important is that they know you’ll be there when they’re ready to get in touch. Others may prefer to hear a human voice, with a regular phone call instead.
  • Try to be open-minded and non-judgemental. This can be hard with some of the behavioural changes associated with symptoms. For example, if someone starts staying in bed rather than meeting their responsibilities it can be tempting to attribute this to the individual rather than the condition. It is best to focus on how to deal with the symptoms rather than judge the behaviour
  • Remember you are not to blame if things get difficult and try not to take hurtful comments personally. Some mental health conditions may involve increased anger and irritability that can be difficult for the person to control. At the same time, aggression and violence are always unacceptable. Do not hesitate to call on help in these circumstances, even if this involves the police.
  • If you know someone has been unwell, don’t be afraid to ask how they are. They might want to talk about it or they might not. Letting them know they don’t have to avoid the issue can be helpful.
  • Try to avoid clichés. Phrases like ‘Cheer up’, ‘I’m sure it’ll pass’ and ‘It could be worse’ won’t help and can make the person feel more isolated.
  • Don’t just talk about mental health. Keep in mind that having a mental illness is just one part of a person’s experience. People aren’t defined solely by their health problems.
  • Encouraging the person to do things without being unrealistic or demanding. For example, social contact is very important to our wellbeing and so encouraging outings and meetings with others can be helpful. Bear in mind this can sometimes feel daunting for someone affected by mental illness.
  • Consider the person as a whole. Remember that they have the same range of personal, emotional and sexual needs as anyone else. Is their physical health being looked after by a GP? Are there alcohol or drug problems that needs attention?

If you are concerned about your caring role or its impact on you, contact the SANE Help Centre on 1800 18 SANE (7263) for information, guidance, and referral for support.

See what support is available for carers? Click here or go to



Say it out Loud


Raising awareness of and offering support for mental health initiatives in the bush, particularly during times of natural disaster, is something CWA of NSW has done for some time now and we continue to encourage social gatherings where people hopefully will share their thoughts and how they are coping. Sharing how you cope may very well help your neighbour. This is my tail….

It’s 5am Monday morning and I’ve woken to the sound of RAIN on the roof!

Then I remembered, I’m not at home.


I am in Young about to start a four day tour of the branches in our South West Group of CWA of NSW and I am certain (unless they are making hay) that no one here will be uttering profanities at the sound! Hopefully when I ring Jeff later he will have lain in bed for a while this morning listening to the same sound on our roof.

At least it’s raining somewhere

The weekend before last we went to neighbours for a “rain dance” party, the next morning we got 6 spits and another dust storm! Must have to go anti-clockwise…..We did get about 5mls over a couple of days last week and I even started to get excited, thinking it might be worth cleaning up some dust, but Huey had obviously decided I was becoming far too optimistic for a ‘cocky’.

DSC_0092As I drove south yesterday there seemed to be pockets of green that actually extended into paddocks and not just on the side of the road, which only serves to lure kangaroos to an uncertain future and keep panel beaters busy. Touch wood, CWA111 has not had any close encounters….yet. Whilst on the subject of cars I must thank the members for providing successive State Presidents, for a few years now, with a comfortable mode of transport. The last president from my part of the world, Edith Gordon, traversed the state in the early 50’s by train, not possible now.

Bouncing around topics, as I tend to do, I’d like to get back to kangaroos (pardon the pun) for a minute. They have invaded my lawn! Can’t blame the poor things, its the only green around, but I wish they wouldn’t drop “you know what” EVERYWHERE!! In the last drought I fashioned a poo scoop out of an old cordial bottle, which worked a treat and wasn’t bad exercise either. In fact, I thought it was so good I made a second one to enter into our recycled article competition but apparently the judge’s assessment didn’t concur with mine, so no prize, go figure!

I’ve now upgraded to the flash spring loaded, long handled model used by (older and wiser) dog owners, but even it may not work on the offerings that two bulls left me on Saturday, after they discovered that it is actually greener on the other side of the fence! A little extra attention with the mower in those spots though will spread some useful fertilizer over a patch or three.

One thing I keep reminding myself is that at least I still have enough water, to have any sort of garden and in the big scheme of things a few kangaroos and their droppings are the least of our worries, but creating a diversion for my thought processes helps keep me sane and able to snatch some sleep at night.

These are my “keep your sense of humour thoughts”, what are yours?


Tea and Scones Have Moved On


Awareness Week has finally arrived and it’s time for us to tell everyone else, that we’ve moved on from tea and scones to a chai latte and strawberry macaroons.

Over a ‘cuppa’ (chino) we’d like  to tell you that our agenda covers a variety of issues; from protecting land and water to no standing on school buses; debate over foreign ownership to the adverse effects of energy drinks on our kids; issues surrounding mental health to ensuring the school curriculum includes teaching children where food and fibre originates.

While you’re polishing off that last crumb of macaroon you should know that we raise funds for scholarships, medical research projects, international aid and emergency and disaster relief across the state and Australia, respectively.

This year we are focussing our efforts on the things we are not normally known for:

  • Charity; in the last 12 months we have raised and distributed almost $1 million, in Australia and abroad
  • Diversity; our members are from all cultures, all walks of life, all ages and they live in the country and the city
  • Change; we are making better use of social media to communicate our activities, harnessing technology to benefit our members, reaping the rewards of sharing wisdom and history with energy and enthusiasm

We will be celebrating Awareness Week from 14th – 21st September 2013 with a host of local events and activities, which are listed here, if you would like to participate.

CWA of NSW is full of passionate, accomplished and committed women. They all have interesting stories and different perspectives on why they are members and I hope to share some of these with you during our Awareness Week, starting tomorrow morning – turn on the telly to Channel 7 at 9.20am to see me and a couple of marvellous members featured on Sunrise.

There’s a LOT more than just ‘tea and scones’ at this table!