The decision to return to work while raising a child with a disability can be accompanied by a unique set of challenges. Despite the emotional and logistical barriers that we face – and acknowledging that work may not be a realistic option for some – parents often have compelling reasons to re-enter the workforce, including financial stability, personal fulfilment, and even (yes, it’s ok to say it) respite from the demands of caregiving.
WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS FOR YOU?
So, if you are thinking about going back to work, how do you go about it?
Putting on your metaphorical work boots again after any time out can be a daunting prospect, but fortunately there are several organisations around Australia that can assist parents of children with a disability who are seeking employment. Many services focus on re-training and study options – as you may find that a career switch is necessary in order to balance work and family demands. Carers Australia and the member caring organisations in each state and territory have a number of resources to help. We have identified some of their programs relevant to the individual state-based organisations below.
The Carers NSW toolkit supports carers to achieve their employment goals. A step- by-step guide includes practical examples and templates to help carers identify and achieve realistic pathways to employment. Download the toolkit here: carersnsw. org.au/services-and-support/advice- for-carers/paid-work
The My Skills national website myskills.gov.au also includes information on TAFE NSW VET courses, and eligibility criteria for subsidised courses.
Carers Victoria currently has a number of initiatives underway to support carers who wish to enter/re-enter paid employment, vocational training and education.
If you would like further information or would like to discuss your situation or explore options, please email [email protected] with your contact details.
CARERS QLD, CARERS TAS, CARERS SA
The Your Caring Way program is a free program designed to support unpaid carers in Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia in achieving their vocational goals.
The program aims to empower carers, providing them with the tools and knowledge they need to thrive both personally and professionally.
Plan – A Vocational Support Planner will work with you to create your personalised goals plan based on your aspirations, dreams and current caring responsibilities. Grow – Gain the skills you need through a range of training and upskilling options. Achieve – Whether it’s employment, volunteering, or even further study, they will help you to live your best life.
Training can be done through Carers Qld, SA or WA Registered Training Organisation (RTO) or a different training provider. yourcaringway.com.au
The Carers Connect program can assist you to use transferable caring role skills and discover opportunities to gain a qualification and paid employment.
This includes career counselling, ongoing coaching, assistance to enrol in accredited training as well as possible access to a financial assistance package. Carers who have an interest to work within Aged Care, Community Service, Disability, Healthcare, Mental Health or other industries with skills shortages are eligible. carerswa.asn.au/carers-in- employment-program/carers-connect
Carers Gateway // 1800 422 737 Carers Gateway is a government-funded program in Australia that provides a range of services and supports to unpaid carers. carergateway.gov.au
Women who care
As women represent 7 out of 10 primary carers, the Women Who Care hub by Carers Australia provides resources tosupport and acknowledge that it can be challenging for women to work, study or volunteer while also providing care. This information hub provides information, resources, and opportunities for both carers and employers. carersaustralia.com.au/programs- projects/women-who-care
Also, keep an ear out for the Carers Australia podcast, The Secret Life of Carers. Season 3 will be launching soon, which will focus on women who care and their experiences in the workplace.
Know your rights
Carers have a number of rights that protect them in the workplace. This includes:
• the right to request flexible working arrangements.
• the right to take carer’s leave (paid or unpaid)
• the right to be protected from discrimination to harassment in the workplace as a result of their caring responsibilities.
If you are having problems within the workplace, head to the following sites for professional advice. fairwork.gov.au/ leave/sick-and-carers-leave and humanrights.gov.au/quick-guide
Carers Australia is the national peak body representing Australia’s unpaid carers, advocating on their behalf to influence policies and services at a national level carersaustralia.com.au