Carers need to re-charge

Traralgon carers joined together last week to support one another and highlight their need for more help.

As part of Carers Week, Traralgon Carers Support Group met for its annual lunch to “de-stress”.

“Most of us carers get no thank you and no help,” TCSG member Maria Rowe said.

The group, which meets twice per month, said regular meetings were an emotional outlet and vital to their mental health.

“If you want to have a cry, you have a cry. If you want to have a bitch, you have a bitch, it’s to de-stress and we do,” Ms Rowe said.

Ms Rowe, along with other carers Anne Sevenson and Clarice Weightner, said the majority of carers needed more hours of respite than they were currently allocated.

“The main point of Carers Week should be to highlight our plight and give us a bit of help for God’s sake, we need respite,” Ms Sevenson said.

Ms Sevenson said her 26 year-old son Chris, who suffers from Down Syndrome, had recently had his respite hours cut back.

“I had to fight to have those hours, because Chris is older doesn’t mean his hours should be cut back, they don’t look at what adults (with disabilities) need,” she said.

“They haven’t got a decent respite house in Traralgon.”

The women highlighted the fact that unlike regular full-time jobs, carers did not receive paid leave and were lucky to have a weekend away once a year, describing their situations as “couped up” for extended periods of time which left them wondering “when do I get a break?”.

“You get to the stage where you could (lose your cool) and not even feel it, then you’ve got to stop and draw the line and settle down, because if you lose the plot then so do they,” Ms Rowe said.

“You’ve got to be happy all the time when on the inside you’re crying your eyes out.”

“We work hard and all we get is $122 a fortnight, my son has Down Syndrome and he’s got autistic traits as well, he’s 27, we thought it might get easier ,but it’s getting harder as we get older,” Ms Weightner said.

Latrobe Community Health Service manager carer programs Alison Skeldon said the organisation ran short respite programs, workshops and planned trips to help carers “recharge their batteries”.

“Carers need to give themselves permission to take a break without feeling guilty,” she said.

For more information on carer respite, phone carer programs at Latrobe Community Health Service on 1800 242 696.

The TCSG meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month from 9am to 11am at Traralgon Neighbourhood House.

For more information, phone Maria Rowe on 0412 481 308.