Carers provide ongoing care, support and assistance to a person with disabilities or a chronic illness, including mental illness, or who are frail. Carers do not receive a salary or wage for the care they provide. Anyone can become a carer at any time. A person might become a carer virtually overnight, after the birth of a baby with disability, or because of an accident or a medical diagnosis, or it might happen gradually as an illness progresses or as a parent becomes frail.
Caring is one of the most significant forms of unpaid work in the community and is integral to Western Australia's aged, disability, health, mental health, and palliative care systems. Family members and friends provide the bulk of this care, which for a carer can be equal to the demands of a full-time job, with many carers providing more than 40 hours of care each week. There are about 310,000 carers in Western Australia.
Western Australia was the first Australian jurisdiction to extend legal recognition to carers with the enactment of the
Carers Recognition Act 2004. The Minister for Community Services has legislative responsibility for the Act. This Act aims to recognise the role of carers in the community and provide a mechanism for involving carers in the provision of services that affect carers and their role. The
Carers Advisory Council reports on compliance with the Act and provides advice to the Minister.