Ronnie Benbow is the founder of The Carers Foundation, a Queensland-based non-profit providing wellness retreats, advocacy and support for people in caring roles. There are some 3 million carers across Australia, whose unpaid labour saves the community $1 billion every week. It’s vital and exhausting work that goes largely unrecognised. Without them, Australia’s health system would collapse.
As is the case in the broader community, caring responsibilities fall predominantly on women. The 2016 ABS Census revealed that females represented 68.1% of primary carers, and that 37.8% of carers across Australia report also living with disability themselves. Ronnie works directly with women and young people exhausted by these responsibilities. The Carers Foundation provides evidence-based wellness programs to help carers rest, recover and access vital support to better cope at home.
MOST PROUD OF
The impact that The Carers Foundation has had on young carers like Sarah, Emma and Jasmine.
“Through the Foundation, I’ve got a support system I wouldn’t find anywhere else,” said 21-year old Sarah, who cares for her mother with multiple illnesses, and three siblings. “Attending the retreats is one of the best things I’ve done. I was able to get my own mental health in check, so I can continue helping my family the way they need,” she said.
It’s a sentiment echoed by other participants, like sisters Emma and Jasmine. “A retreat gives you a chance to have a break and just be yourself. Ronnie and the team were a huge help to me while I was at university, and one of the contributing reasons for me graduating,” said Emma.
All three are now passionate about supporting other young carers and developing their leadership skills as ambassadors for the Foundation.
MY VISION FOR QUEENSLAND
I would like to expand this vital work by making Queensland home to the nation’s first dedicated Wellness and Inspiration Centre for carers. The Carers Foundation already fills a big gap in Australia’s social service sector and the Centre will make help available to people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so that carers needn’t be facing crisis or breakdown point to access support, as is so often the case.
ADVICE FOR QUEENSLAND WOMEN
I’m forever inspired by how much women accomplish in their lives and families, and I’m always reminded of one thing. We’re stronger than we think and strongest when we take care of ourselves and each other.
Self-care isn’t a moisturising hand sanitiser. It’s a key practice for tapping into and sustaining your life force energy.
We need time to refuel and recalibrate our inner GPS. It makes us more resilient, attentive, and better able to support others. So my advice is to treat yourself as a VIP priority. Take time, tune into your intuition, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. We’re strongest when we take care of ourselves and each other.
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Queensland is built by amazing Queenslanders. Every day women in Queensland are taking action to make Queensland safer for women, to help women’s health and wellbeing, to build women’s economic security and to increase women’s participation in the workforce and female leadership. Femeconomy is showcasing 20 women from across Queensland that are delivering the Queensland Government’s Women’s Strategy.
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