Ageing, Disability & Home Care

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2013 Carers Award recipients celebrated

14 October 2013

Minister for Ageing and Disability Services, John Ajaka, today acknowledged 10 carers aged between 16 and 79 for their dedication and commitment to their family and friends at an awards ceremony at Parliament House.

Mr Ajaka said the awards also recognise two outstanding carer support groups that have made an exceptional contribution to caring.

“The NSW Carers Awards provide us with an opportunity to pay tribute to the work of carers and raise awareness about the important role they play in our community,” Mr Ajaka said.

“There are 850,000 carers in New South Wales – one in ten people are looking after a family member or a friend who has disability, a mental illness, a chronic health condition or are frail aged.”

Access Economics estimates that nationally, carers provide 1.32 billion hours of care each year saving the Australian taxpayer $40 billion annually.

Anne Naylor from West Pennant Hills has been named 2013 NSW Carer of the Year.

Anne takes her caring role very seriously advocating on behalf of three of her four children who need care and devotes her time to educating others about caring for children with disability.

“As a carer I am resourceful and capable, and there are some things I struggle with but perfection and I parted company a long time ago so I just try to be positive and never give up.”

The NSW Carers Awards is held during NSW Carers Week, 13-19 October and a highlight is the presentation of nine ‘Highly Commended’ and Carer Support Group awards at Parliament House.

Carers Awards will be also be presented to 51 individual carers and 11 carer support groups across the state.

In early 2014 a Carers Summit will be convened to provide a strong foundation for a NSW Carers Strategy to be drafted and then released later in the year.

Ageing, Disability and Home Care provides funding to Carers NSW to enable carer support groups and organisations to run local events during NSW Carers Week.

Highly Commended recipients:

Brian Attard from Guildford
(name withheld) from Yass
Angela Chorusch from Woodrising
Wendy Harris from Bateman’s Bay
Karrie Lannstrom from Broken Hill
Stephanie Pinilla from Mount Warrigal (young carer)
Sue Sharkey from North Epping
Harold and Betty Smith from Collaroy
Ellizabeth Smyth from Goonellabah

Carer Support Group recipients:

Bankstown Dementia Carers Group
Samarpan, Epping

Profiles of the award recipients are as followed:

2013 Carer of the Year

Anne Naylor from West Pennant Hills
Anne Naylor has four adult children, three of whom need care. Her eldest son has Down Syndrome, autism, dyspraxia, mild hearing loss and sleep apnoea. Anne provides all of his personal daily care and advocates on his behalf as he moves into adulthood. Another child has bipolar disorder and two have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Anne provides them with practical and emotional support as they navigate through life.

Anne also educates others about caring for children with disability. She is a carer representative with Carers NSW and she has spoken on radio and written newspaper articles about her caring experience.

Anne has bipolar and has recently published a book, Art From Adversity: A Life With Bipolar, which describes her experience of living with a mental illness while caring for children with disability. Anne also draws on her personal experiences to deliver an annual lecture to medical students, at the University of Sydney, about a parent’s response to the birth of a child with disability.

Anne has completed a Masters in Special Education and is an accredited interpreter.

Highly Commended

Brian Attard from Guildford
For 43 years, Brian Attard, a 79 is father of three has been the full-time carer for his son Gary who has a number of disabilities. Hard work, loyalty and family are paramount in Brian’s life, and he still has time to volunteer providing regular transport for adults with disability.

(Name withheld) from Yass
(Name withheld), 65, who was born with her own disability, is devoted to caring for her 55-year-old sister who has Down Syndrome and is partially blind. (Name withheld) was also primary carer for her late father who sadly passed away a couple of months ago aged 97 and her mother who had cancer.

Angela Chorusch from Woodrising
In caring for her two sons who have multiple disabilities, Angela Chorusch, 36, saw a need for support to be given to families with special needs. So she co-founded a support group for other families dealing with autism spectrum disorder and Asperger’s disorder.

Wendy Harris from Bateman’s Bay
Wendy Harris’s daughter has a rare chromosomal disorder, similar to Down Syndrome. She also suffers from a heart murmour, epilepsy and diabetes and has a short life expectancy. Through Wendy's dedication her daughter is now able to stand up by herself and say some words, things that she was told would not be possible.

Karrie Lannstrom from Broken Hill
Karrie Lannstrom’s, 59, generosity as a carer has been felt by her grandmother, who had dementia, as well as her sister. She supports her sister who lives with mental illness and diabetes. She fostered her sister’s son when her illness was so severe she was unable to continue care for him.

Stephanie Pinilla from Mount Warrigal
With a maturity beyond her years, high school student Stephanie Pinilla, 16, is the main carer for her mother who has a disability and her 11-year-old brother. For the past eight years, Stephanie has continued her studies while assisting her mother with daily living tasks and personal care.

Sue Sharkey from North Epping
Sue Sharkey, 51 cares for her 13 year old daugher who has a rare syndrome and needs help with all the basics of daily life as well as support for her intellectual disability and anxiety. As a disability support care worker in her working life, Sue has a deep understanding of the joys and difficulties of living and caring for a loved one with disability.

Harold and Betty Smith from Collaroy
Tragedy struck Harold and Betty Smith’s family when their son was hit by a car while riding his pushbike. He was aged 11 at the time and suffered a catastrophic brain injury. For the past 25 years, Rod has required high level care around the clock which his parents have provided while also bringing up their daughter.

Ellizabeth Smyth from Goonellabah
Ellizabeth, 23 has her hands full working, studying at TAFE, running a household and looking after two children. Ellizabeth’s six-year-old daughter has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and her son who is four has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Caring organisations

Families from South Asian backgrounds who have children or young adults with a disability have been supporting each other for the past five years through Samarpan. Now more formalised, the group hosted the first forum for families of South Asian background to assist them discover the benefits of early intervention. The families have also skilfully used multicultural media to spread the word.

Young adults with disability are a major focus for Samarpan and the group’s long term focus is accommodation for these young people.

Carer Support Groups

Bankstown Dementia Carers Group Incorporated
With the motto ‘Carers giving carers a hand’, the Bankstown Dementia Carers Group Incorporated (BDCGI) achieves the aims it set in 2004 to create strong ties to local support services and a network of volunteer carers as mentors.

The health and wellbeing of carers for people with dementia is a priority for the group. The group operates two drop-in centres for carers and the people they care for. Respite care is provided when needed, allowing carers the opportunity to attend meetings and forge friendships that can make the journey seem less lonely.

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