Survey results which highlight the difficulties faced by country carers have come as no surprise to a Wagga woman.
The 2016 Regional Well-Being Survey has examined the experiences of 13,200 people, with results showing that carers living in regional areas had fewer places to turn to for help in comparison to city carers.
Rachael Herring has seen caring from multiple angles and knows the challenges faced by country carers.
The legal secretary cares for her mother, cared for an elderly relative while her own children were young, and is a volunteer with the Cancer Council.
She is also a former community transport co-ordinator and the mum of a daughter who beat leukaemia at the age of three.
While she has seen changes since daughter Kate, who is now 35, was treated in Sydney, Ms Herring said the issues remained the same for country carers.
“Carers face issues with distance, finding accommodation and the costs, as well,” she said. “When my daughter was treated in Sydney, there was nothing like Ronald McDonald House. We were given rooms in the nurses’ quarters. So I can certainly see an improvement, but there is still a long way to go.”
Ms Herring said her experience in community transport at Tumut had emphasised how necessary reliable transport was to carers.
“People don’t really think about it, until it happens to them and then their life is really full-on,” she said.
University of Canberra lead author, Associate Professor Jacki Schirmer, said carers living in remote regions experience more financial stress than those based in the city.
“When we asked people about their access to carer support services, we found that many living in regional areas had no places to turn for respite care, supportive GPs, home or financial support,” Dr Schirmer said.
“We also found that younger carers aged between 30 and 49 had higher rates of financial stress, psychological distress, social isolation, and poor well-being. This period is typically where people are raising their own family or find themselves sandwiched between their work and role as a carer.”
According to the survey, 15 per cent of regional Australians are caring for someone. Those aged between 50 and 64 had the highest proportion of carers at 19 per cent.