The last census found there were more than 430,000 family carers in Aotearoa, but we believe the true number is closer to a million.
Family carers support someone in their whānau who is unwell, has a health condition, disability, mental illness or addiction.
They enable people to continue to live in our communities and reduce demands on the health and aged care systems.
We can all expect to give or receive care during our lifetimes. As our population ages, more people have long term health conditions, and remain living at home rather than going into residential care.
Carers do important mahi. But they carry a lot on their shoulders.
A FORMAL ALLIANCE
Now Carers NZ is delighted to have reached a formal alliance with the PSA so family carers can enjoy the benefits of union membership.
You are eligible to join if you are a carer paid to support friends or family, or if you provide support through individualised funding.
There are already around 700 PSA members who are family whānau carers. While carers might not automatically think about joining a union, we are encouraging them to do so.
A growing number of family carers are eligible for payment for some of their mahi aroha, and like all workers they need information, representation, and a unified voice when it comes to workforce rights.
The PSA will assist with lobbying the Ministry of Health, ACC, DHBs and whoever else it takes to help improve their pay and conditions.
Equally, many family whānau and aiga carers work in jobs outside their caring role and they can struggle to keep working and earning. Ensuring workplaces are carer friendly is important.
We work with the PSA and other unions, business and other organisations to promote Carers NZ’s free CareWise programme to support employers and working carers.
The vulnerability of many carers has been highlighted in the first State of Caring survey, which the PSA has helped to promote.
Many have to give up other careers to take on lower paid, precarious work, where they often feel invisible.
Two-thirds are women and they typically earn less than those who do not have caring responsibilities.
Joining the PSA will bring carers strength in numbers.
The close relationship between the PSA and Carers NZ goes back decades.
The union has campaigned for increased funded family care pay rates and supported the Mahi Aroha Carers’ Strategy Action Plan, which aims to improve the wellbeing of carers.
The PSA and Carers NZ believe it is important to ensure carers’ wellbeing so they can provide the best possible care for their loved ones.
The care and support equal pay settlement is one of the PSA’s biggest achievements, and now applies to some family carers. Carers NZ supported the push for pay equity – a strong, fairly funded workforce is important for families living with health and disability challenges.
There is still much to do to ensure recognition for family whānau carers. We’re grateful the PSA is here to support them.
Nā Carers NZ chief executive Laurie Hilsgen