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Change on the Horizon

In April next year, the Federal Government starts rolling out a new service delivery model designed for improved access to information and supports for carers, but will it help men in caring roles?

Years in the making, the Australia wide network of Carer Gateway service providers was recently announced with 10 lead organisations, and a range of partners named to deliver roughly 6 times the current supports offered to informal family and friend carers around Australia.

“Designed by carers, for carers to help them get the support they need early, before reaching crisis point.” is how Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston described the new model in a statement.

The Carer Gateway website and phone line (1800 422 737) were established to provide a single point of contact for carers who are looking for support or information. The 10 lead Not For Profit organisations will receive a combined $493 million over the next 5 years to implement a range of services that carers will access via contact with the Carer Gateway. From April 2020, those services include;

  • Counselling and Coaching

  • Peer Support

  • Financial Support

  • Emergency Crisis Support

Plus other assistance, for example understanding and engaging with services such as the NDIS and My Aged Care. Minister Ruston said “These services give carers access to a range of supports to help reduce stress, build resilience and cope with daily challenges” This all sounds great and will certainly go a long way to helping many carers around the country who are not currently receiving any support.

There is another perspective on these changes that Men Care Too would like to share.

Men Care Too was founded in an effort to raise awareness of the 1.2 million plus Australian men in caring roles. Our research article presented at the International Carers Conference in 2017, highlighted issues relevant to men in caring roles and touched more widely on how men are traditionally less likely to seek help or attend support groups.

Societies view and definition of masculinity has been a hot topic around the world for some time now, yet a traditional man is still generally expected to be strong, intelligent, confident and independent. None of these traits or expectations lend themselves well to formal kinds of counselling, advice or peer support.

In the most recent Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, men accounted for 31% of primary carers and make up 50.3% of the 1.84 million secondary informal carers in Australia. This means that there are a lot of men around the country who are in caring roles, who could likely benefit from some form of support but don’t, and Men Care Too believes that is largely due to what services and supports are offered and how they are presented.

Imagine the scenario of ...

A 28year old male working a full time job in construction who comes home from a tough days work to help care for his autistic son and he also helps care for his partners elderly mum who lives with them or ...

A retired mechanic with a bad back and dodgy knees who is the sole carer for his wife who has dementia.

They both do a great job of caring for the people they love, they don’t see themselves as ’carers’ and they certainly don’t think they need any help because a bloke is meant to be all those things we mentioned earlier.

Traditional services and supports aren’t going to help either of these men until the time comes when something goes wrong or it all gets to hard to manage everything, and he is left feeling like a failure because he couldn’t manage it all. Creating male friendly services and supports starts with recognising that men often don’t fit within traditional help seeking models currently offered.

Men Care Too is calling on the 10 lead organisations tasked with implementing the Carer Gateway services to look closely at what services they are offering and consider how our construction worker and retired mechanic might be better identified and backed up.

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