Australian Social Policy Conference
July 9, 2003
The Australian government relies on the unpaid work of informal carers to ensure that frail elderly people and people with severe disabilities are able to perform the tasks of daily living. Informal care work can impose considerable constraints on the lifestyles of the people who assume this role. This paper first investigates the degree to which self- identified carers may be said to achieve or fail to achieve a work-life balance, with particular concern for the level of out of home and social activity carers undertake compared to the rest of the Australian population. Not all people who engage in informal adult care self-identify as carers. Indeed, nearly twice as many people who record adult care activities in their time diaries do not identify themselves as carers on items on the individual questionnaire. This paper profiles people who perform care but do not self-identify as carers, and considers the work-life balance of this care-providing group. Finally, the authors use the daily activities of self-identified carers and non-identified carers to model the average daily regimes of carers, producing a time signature, which we then use to estimate the potential size of the informal care-providing population which does not self-identify as carers.