When the mower won’t start or a tap is leaking we can change the spark plug or washer and everything works like it should, job done, simple. Men are problem solvers we like to fix things so when we come across something that can’t be fixed it can put us in a tough situation.
What isn’t simple is when someone we love and care about has a disability or is unwell and needs our help.
The term ‘Carer’ is used to identify someone who provides unpaid and informal assistance to a ‘family member or friend with a disability, mental illness, drug and alcohol dependencies, chronic condition, terminal illness or who is frail’. Time spent caring can vary from a few hours a week up to a 24/7 commitment for someone needing constant monitoring and support.
2016 Census data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that in the week prior to census night 849,289 men (15years and over) provided unpaid assistance to a person with a disability which equates to around 40% of carers in Australia. In June of 2015, Deloitte Economics estimated the replacement value of the informal work that unpaid carers perform at $60.3 Billion. There are also an unknown number of carers who don’t acknowledge or identify with the term carer. Men and boys who fall into this category, known as ‘hidden carers’, often miss out on social and financial support that can make a difference.
Managing the care of a loved one is challenging, both men and women in caring roles often report low levels of well-being and social isolation. Men often find it difficult to ask employers for flexible working hours and sometimes end up having to leave work altogether to focus on their caring responsibilities. Whilst there are many men in caring roles, there is little research on the subject and at community services level, very few providers actively engage male carers with specific or appropriate programs and activities.
This year Australia will host the 7th International Carers Conference in Adelaide from 4-6 October where experts, policy makers, business, community advocates and innovators will discuss opportunities, challenges and partnerships to better support carers in the future. The afternoon session on Day 1 of the conference will see presentations focused on male carers highlighting emotional well-being, peer support and the need to explore strategies for improved research and engagement with men in caring roles. Read more about the conference and book tickets through Carers Australia website.
Also this October you can help celebrate and acknowledge the men and boys in your community who are in caring roles by hosting an event for Carers Week between the 15th and 21st. There are many events held during Carers Week with only a handful that are aimed at men and boys who care so there is an opportunity now to make a difference, to show your local community that Men Care Too.
*This article first appeared in EMALE, an electronic Men's Health and Wellbeing newsletter. To subscribe contact Greg Millan at firstname.lastname@example.org
 Carers NSW definition ‘Anyone Anytime’ https://www.carersnsw.org.au/facts/anyone-anytime
 ABS 2016 Census Australia Community Profile http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/communityprofile/036?opendocument
 Deloitte Economics, ‘The economic value of informal care in Australia in 2015’ https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/economics/articles/economic-value-informal-care-Australia-2015.html
 Carers NSW 2016 Carer Survey https://www.carersnsw.org.au/research/survey