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UC researcher awarded ARC Early Career Industry Fellowship for Australian carers’ wellbeing

Kailey Tonini

1 June 2023: The University of Canberra’s Dr Mel Mylek, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University’s Health Research Institute, has been awarded $443,386 as part of the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) prestigious Early Career Industry Fellowship.

The grant will enable Dr Mylek to continue her work with Carers Australia and the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) on the national Carers Wellbeing Survey, which aims to build a comprehensive picture of the wellbeing of carers and how Australian services can best support their needs.

There are approximately 2.65 million carers in Australia, who provide unpaid assistance to others living with a disability, long-term health condition, mental ill health or age-related frailty.

The national survey commenced in 2021 and asks carers to share their experiences of being a carer and the support services they engage with. The outcome of the survey is intended to help Carers Australia and DSS improve the tools and services available to carers, and make recommendations to government relating to carers’ wellbeing.

“I am very grateful for this fellowship, which will fund the next three years of the survey and allow us to begin with the longitudinal analysis from 2024,” Dr Mylek said.

“We know the health and wellbeing of carers is much lower compared to other Australians, that they are often more socially isolated and have poorer employment outcomes. Looking at their access to available support services, including the federal government Carer Gateway, My Aged Care and NDIA will help improve the quality and accessibility of these services. Unpaid carers make such a significant contribution caring for others, so we need to ensure they are receiving care too,” she said.

“This survey helps fill a major gap in data about the lived experiences of Australian carers, and shows the diversity of caring relationships, carers and the people receiving care,” said Alison Brook, CEO of Carers Australia.

“It has enabled Carers Australia to advocate on behalf of carers based on solid evidence, to ensure their voices and experiences are heard and governments understand their needs.”

The 2023 report is expected to be delivered in September in the lead-up to this year’s National Carers Week, 15-23 October, with the next survey expected to open in January 2024. Visit the Carers Australia website for more information.

The ARC’s Early Career Industry Fellowships scheme provides opportunities for early career researchers to work with leading professors and industry to help solve industry challenges.

In May 2023, 50 Early Career Industry Fellowships were awarded, totalling $22 million.