Newslines Radio: Are you Care Aware?
- Nathan Ramsay
- Len Clarke, carer, VIC
Lurpeen Clarke, young woman receiving care, VIC
Walls and Tunnels, Jason Glover and Richard Neale
Fixing the Shadows, Michael Nyman
Seven Veils, Anders Lewen
PRESENTER: Hi, I’m Nathan Ramsay and you’re listening to Newslines Radio, an Australian Government program on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.
Today we’re talking about Care Aware, a national communications initiative funded by the Australian Government that aims to raise awareness, recognition, support and appreciation of those amazing people who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends.
With around 2.6 million unpaid family carers in Australia, chances are you, or someone from your mob, may be a carer.
Unpaid family carers are our friends, relatives, siblings, partners and neighbours who provide full or part time unpaid personal care, support and assistance to people of all ages with disabilities, medical conditions, mental illness, frailty due to age and people who have alcohol and drug issues.
Every caring situation is different, but there is one thing all carers have in common – they give comfort, encouragement and reassurance to the person they care for, oversee their health and well-being and try to ensure they have a good quality of life.
Gunditjamara/Kirrae Wurrung elder Len Clarke lives in an Aboriginal community just outside of Warrnambool, Victoria. He is a carer for his daughter Lurpeen, who was born with Down Syndrome.
Uncle Len shared his story as part of the Care Aware campaign. Let’s take a listen.
LEN CLARKE: Disabilities in Aboriginal communities can be more occurring than it is in the general community because of the fact of our lifestyles, and it’s not uncommon to see someone in your community suffer from some type of disability. But it’s not really a burden to our people, because of that connection of the extended family thing and so everyone just pitches in and helps with the caring of that person who may have a disability.
Lurpeen – L-U-R-P-E-E-N – means “mist in the evening” in our language. So, when she was born, we did not even know what Down Syndrome was.
We did not know what it meant. But this did not deter her mother. Her mother spent every available time finding out what Down Syndrome is and she then decided right from the very start to rear our child, Lurpeen, as a normal child in society, to exist like any other person in the Australian community, to be totally independent should anything die and her mother always taught her that – to…that she won’t be around forever so she’ll have to one day look after herself.
And she certainly displayed everything that her mother had taught her to be independent.
LURPEEN CLARKE: Mum was built in to my head saying I have to get out, I need a space. My choice…I chose this land, I was born in this land.
LEN CLARKE: I think one of the biggest fears that all parents face and know that they will come across in time and that’s death. When the angel of death comes flying around, you can’t chase it away, mate. You’re gone. I think most parents don’t want to leave a child behind, especially when they have a disability.
After Lurpeen’s mum passed on, a very dear friend of mine went down and looked after her, even so much as to move into her home and keep it as normal as possible and so we share – we share the caring load. My heart goes out to people who can’t get away from caring for a child or person within their family that has a disability.
I think…the Australian community and also the Aboriginal community has to become more care aware so that we can… we can give that full support. As I talk now, there’s plenty of people out there that possibly will go to their bed tonight, they’ve got no help whatsoever and that’s not only in the Aboriginal community in regards to disability. That’s in the general community. Because a lot of times, people just won’t go and ask for help so we have to become more aware that these people do exist and that these families do exist and that we are there to help. We need to get out there and help.
My name is Len Clarke. I reside at an Aboriginal community near Warrnambool in Victoria. I care for my daughter, Lurpeen Clarke, who was born with Down Syndrome.
RESENTER: Care Aware is all about recognising the amazing contribution of Australia’s carers – so make sure you spread the word!
To find out more about Care Aware and how the Australian Government is working to support carers, check out the links on our website: Indigenous.gov.au. You can also follow Closing the Gap on Twitter, and like Newslines Radio on Facebook.
I’m Nathan Ramsay, thanks for listening to Newslines Radio. Stay deadly!