Newslines Radio: Impossible Orchestra shines a spotlight on carers
- Nathan Ramsay
- Kat Nicholson, carer, VIC
David Dewey, carer, VIC
Brett Kelly, Impossible Orchestra conductor, VIC
Seven Veils, Anders Lewen
Fixing the Shadows, Michael Nyman
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 the importance of recognising 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.
The Australian Government is funding a national communications initiative called Care Aware to help raise awareness recognition, support and appreciation of unpaid carers.
PRESENTER: Kat Nicholson and David Dewey are the primary carers for their six-year-old daughter Keva, who was born with cerebral palsy. Like many carers, they didn’t initially realise there were services and assistance available to them.
David, whose family is from the Wangaratta Aboriginal community in northern Victoria, says finding out there is help available through programs like the Australian Government’s Better Start for Children with Disability program was a huge relief.
Thanks to the financial support provided through Better Start, Kat is able to stay home full time and David has reduced his working hours to part time. He says this has not only helped him be a better carer for Keva, but also allows him to spend more time with her two younger siblings Kelise and Jacob.
DEWEY: Because I don’t have to go out and work that 9-5 to get the things that she needs, I’m able to have the time to be at home and be a dad.
It’s mainly just labouring duties, playing with them when they can cause she can’t get out and about with other kids as much so just try make things as fun for her around the house as you can.
PRESENTER: Keva’s condition affects her legs. She can’t walk unassisted, which Kat says means she also struggles with many basic daily tasks.
NICHOLSON: She can’t go to the toilet by herself, she can’t dress herself, she can’t get around by herself, she can’t brush her teeth standing up, she can’t get herself into the bed, she can’t get into the bath. She can’t basically do anything physically. She can walk on her flat surface as long as she has orthotics and all that sort of stuff but you have to do a massive amount of lifting.
PRESENTER: While her parents are there to help with Keva’s extra needs, caring is often a whole family responsibility. Kelise is more than happy to help out her big sister now, but Kat says that when they were younger the girls used to get frustrated at the differences in their abilities.
NICHOLSON: When they were younger Kelise used to go, “Just get up and walk Keva, can’t you just get up?” And I’d say, “Don’t say things like that”. It doesn’t seem to bother Keva all that much; she’s alright. And Keva’s pretty nasty when she wants to be too. She gets frustrated at Kelise cause Kelise can walk and she can’t. So she’s like, “Kelise can you get this?” and she orders her around. When Kelise stops wanting to be a slave, that’s not so good either. “Kelise won’t get it for me Mum, make her get it for me”. But generally they’re really, really good together. They wouldn’t be separated for all the money in the world. They love each other too much.
PRESENTER: A key part of the Care Aware campaign is to show carers there is help available, whether it be respite services, counselling, or subsidies to cover medical and equipment costs. It also raises awareness of family carers, people like Kat and David, so that we are all better educated about what carers do and how important they are to the community.
PRESENTER: This year one of the main events of the Care Aware campaign to raise awareness about carers will be a 24 hour concert by the Impossible Orchestra. The orchestra will feature musicians from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Academy of Music, Orchestra Victoria and other orchestras from around the country. A few famous faces will also be dropping in to conduct or play an instrument to show their support for the cause.
Impossible Orchestra conductor Brett Kelly told Newslines why the event was so important to promote carers.
KELLY: We thought that by putting on this concert, which has probably never ever been done before, playing in an orchestra, literally playing a continuous 24-hour concert that we could hugely raise awareness and celebrate the role of carers in the community.
For those of us who have come to the whole notion of caring through this project has been a massive eye-opener and we’re hoping to really have that affect on a huge number, millions if possible, of people throughout Australia. We know they can’t all come to the concert but we’re really hoping to get a massive word out there about what a phenomenal job carers do and really how they bind together and hold together the fabric of the whole country really.
Carers embody the best of us, don’t they? Its unconditional love, incredible sacrifice, amazing resilience and resourcefulness and energy and commitment and the preparedness to really go through tough times. Any help they can get, either physical, financial or emotional is more than deserved.
PRESENTER: The performance will be at Melbourne’s Hammer Hall on October 27 and 28. People can also watch the Impossible Orchestra online at the Care Aware website: careaware.com.au.
PRESENTER: 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!