Posted by Kambala
The Kambala School Values of Humanity, Courage, Curiosity and Respect transcend a girl’s school years and act as a foundation for life beyond the school gates. As an Old Girl, I have found humanity and courage pertinent to my own journey as a campaigner for carers’ rights.
I became a carers advocate when my mother developed dementia in 2012. During the subsequent years I cared for her (until her death in August 2018) I experienced frustration with the bureaucracy involved in trying to access a Home Care Package for my mother. Currently, thousands of Australians are on this waiting list.
My circumstance as a full-time, unpaid carer necessitated I postpone my career, jeopardising both my health and financial security. I developed a strong belief that there should be better support for carers. The absence of adequate support is, I believe, a humanitarian crisis – one largely overlooked by policy and lawmakers. The recent Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety shined a light on approximately 30 per cent of aged care. A larger percentage of Australia’s sick and elderly are looked after by carers at home, not in a hospital or respite environment. It is these people that are overlooked by the Royal Commission.
In April 2018, I met with the Prime Minister’s Office to discuss my Carer Strategy. I was delighted to see one of my ideas come to fruition a few months later with the announcement of a $38 million investment into dementia research by the then-Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. The same year, I also spoke at the Royal Commission Round Table for Aged Care and I am currently seeking support for my National Carers Card Petition to provide carers who are not on a pension with discounted services (such as public transport and reduced admission costs for leisure activities).
The role of carers is critical. Not only do they provide at-home care for an ageing population, but they also save the government vast sums of money. We are profoundly lucky to be part of a community like Kambala, with its visible culture of care. It is for this reason I am passionate that Australia set a benchmark supporting its carers and protecting their health and financial security.
About the Author
Deanna Mastellone ’77 is a Kambala Old Girl whose dream is to become a goodwill ambassador for carers with the United Nations.