recognising the cost of unpaid care

Life

Whether it’s looking after children, elderly family members or your neighbour, we know that many of you are actively providing unpaid care.


This unpaid care may be in addition to your paid job. Or perhaps your caregiving responsibilities have meant you’ve needed to reduce your hours at work – which may also be impacting your finances and even how much money you’ll have at retirement.

At HESTA, we believe in using our collective voice to help address inequities impacting our members and those we see falling behind. That’s why we partnered with the McKell Institute to conduct research to better understand how unpaid responsibilities are affecting HESTA members.


The impact of unpaid care on our members

According to our survey of HESTA members*, an average of 28 hours a week is spent providing unpaid care. That’s the equivalent of 3.5 average working days.

The data also shows this unpaid care is more likely to be undertaken by women, with 88 per cent of caregiver respondents being female.

66 per cent of respondents under 50 not in full-time employment said they would work more paid hours if they didn’t have unpaid caring duties – which in turn would boost their income and superannuation.

The most trying aspect of providing unpaid care, noted by 92 per cent of respondents, was the impact on their mental health of juggling unpaid care with paid care. 51 per cent reported they don’t share the responsibility of their caring duties with anyone. This means many carry the burden of unpaid care – and the personal or financial consequences of that care – alone.

 


Measuring unpaid care

It's clear from our research that many of you who are working while providing unpaid care, may be facing significant financial strain and noticing an impact on your mental health, family, and community wellbeing.

That’s why we recognise the importance of measuring unpaid care, and we welcome the Federal Government’s decision to increase the frequency of time-use surveys to capture national data on unpaid care work.

Because formally measuring the role of unpaid care work in Australia can help to recognise its impact on our members’ financial wellbeing, economic contribution, and help improve equity in retirement savings.

More on this topic, and the McKell Institute’s recommendations, can be found in the ‘Our place in time: Making unpaid work count’ report.

If this resonates with you, HESTA is proud to partner with Infoxchange, the not-for-profit behind 'Ask Izzy': a service that helps Australians find and access local support services. You can search for over 430,000 services close to you, including financial assistance and mental health counselling.

 


 

*Research studies conducted among a representative sample of HESTA members from November 2022 to September 2023. Find out more.

 

 

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