A carer is an individual close to, or often living with someone who provides care and support - generally unpaid - to a person living with a mental illness, disability, chronic condition, terminal illness or who is frail or aged. (adapted from Carers Australia)

A carer is not necessarily a family member. It can be a friend, neighbour or significant other.

In Australia, research has shown that there is an emotional and physical consequence to caring. There is a high need for support and services to carers of people with mental illness recognising the unique contribution they make to the person they care for and acknowledging the issues they face.

Carers of people with a mental illness and all carers in Australia have rights. The National Carer Recognition Bill 2010 was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, 17 March 2010. The Hon Jenny Maclean MP, Minister for Families, Housing and Communities Services and Indigenous Affairs introduced the legislation in the House of Representatives.

The Bill establishes a definition of carer and sets down ten principles, including the fundamental principle that all carers should have the same rights, choices and opportunities as other Australian.

These rights apply equally to carers from CALD background. CALD means an individual who is from a culturally and linguistically diverse background. CALD refers to the wide range of cultural groups that make up the Australian population and Australian communities. It includes groups and individuals who different according to religion, race, language or ethnicity (Reality Check, MMHA 2004).

In CALD communities caring is usually seen as just a normal part of the family and primary caregiver. Carers from CALD backgrounds have similar issues as carers from Anglo Saxon backgrounds such as the demands of caring and insufficient support services however, they also differ in some major issues, mainly lack of information in their language and a form they can understand, about the medical condition of the person they are caring for, low usage of support services, use of traditional healers, lack of cultural awareness and sensitivity by service providers, lack of understanding about the various services and treatment options, relationship problems, role strain, stigma and shame. (adapted from  In Their Own Right assessing the needs of carers in diverse communities, MMHA 2004).

The information in the Carer section of this website is designed to educate, inform and promote participation and increase resilience, hope and knowledge for CALD carers in the Australian community about mental health issues for the person they care for and for their own wellbeing. As well as personal stories and articles from CALD carers themselves, it contains educational information, resources for CALD carers participating in the mental  health system, updates on MHiMA National Carer projects such as the CALD state/territory reference and self help groups and information and factsheets about mental illnesses, caring and recovery issues both in English and in over 20 other languages.

We welcome any opinions that CALD carers may have to improve our website and also any personal stories that CALD carers or the people they care for, may wish to submit to the website. Any work that is submitted is subject to prior approval by MHiMA.