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The Australian National University

Unpaid Work, Unpaid Care, Unpaid Assistance and Volunteering

Abstract

The care economy includes activities such as providing unpaid child care; unpaid assistance for someone with a disability, a long-term illness, or problems related to old age; undertaking domestic work; and volunteering. Information on the level and type of unpaid work undertaken by all Australians was first collected in the 2006 Census. The questions were included again in the 2011 Census.

The benefits from the care sector to the Australian economy is significant. From a financial perspective, it represents savings in expenditure that otherwise would need to be allocated. For those receiving care, there are tremendous benefits to individuals and their families. While there are benefits from the carer's perspective, there are also likely to be substantial economic and non-economic costs that are often hidden. Previous research has shown that carers have lower financial security and a greater likelihood of having lower mental health. Furthermore, Indigenous carers currently providing informal care represent a potential care wor