Regional Carers Wellbeing Needs Prioritising: SCU Report Finds

Local Sawtellians Jo Magill and her son Dane. Jo self-manages her son Dane’s NDIS plan.


SOUTHERN Cross University have released a report entitled ‘Understanding the Impact of the NDIS on Regional Carers’, publishing findings on the wellbeing of carers, including those on the Coffs Coast.

The report is the result of an 18 month study in which 70 carers from the NSW Mid North Coast were surveyed about caring for a person with a disability shortly after becoming part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

One of the main findings was the need to improve the wellbeing of carers and to ease the significant administrative burdens many face when dealing with the complex NDIS system.

The University’s Professor of Mental Health John Hurley headed up the survey and identified a blend of both positive and challenging outcomes for carers in this study and an increase in some self-care strategies.

“Carers reported physical and psychosocial improvements for NDIS participants and experienced improved family relationships as they were able to focus more on personal relationships rather than caring roles,” Professor Hurley said.

“But it’s concerning that there still exists a higher than average risk for depression, demonstrating that carers still face wellbeing challenges.

“As a result, there’s a need to increase the training, qualifications and capabilities, but we don’t have enough services in regional NSW to fully meet the needs of the NDIS participants.”

One of those involved with the study, Jo Magill, from Sawtell, appreciates the flexibility the NDIS allows her.

“Because I’m self-managed I can choose which providers I can call upon to look after my disabled son,” said Ms Magill.

“I think the NDIS still has teething problems but overall I’m quite supportive of the scheme.”

Ms Magill manages her own self-care by scheduling activities into her calendar.

“Making sure that I do take that self care and making a weekend or scheduled appointment can be for small things,” she said.

“I also utilise the respite component even when it’s a couple of hours and my son Dane can be doing the things that he likes and I can do what I like.”

That can be simple things such as walking the dog or walking along the beach.

“It’s a time then when I know I can walk on the beach without a phone and know that I am not responsible for those two or so hours,” she said.

Ms Magill does have concerns about disingenuous NDIS providers which she said add to the stress already on carers.

“A lot more services appear to be available and the wait time has increased.

“As awareness of the NDIS has grown, people out to make a buck have also grown.

“It is hard to gauge the authenticity of a provider so again that puts more worry back on a carer to do their homework,” she said.

The SCU report was partly funded by NSW Department of Communities and Justice and has been submitted to the National Disabilities Agency for further consideration.


By Sandra MOON

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