It's not an exciting read, by any stretch, but this volume should be required reading for any Australian who wants to understand the daily realities faced by the approximately 2.6 million carers in this country.
It was loaned to me by the mother of two highly dependent teenage girls. This woman was telling me about her recent holiday - the first one she's had in more than ten years. Because she lives in a provincial town, respite care for her daughters is very hard to come by. She often has to save it up and book it months in advance, only to find it is withdrawn at the last minute because of an emergency situation where (for example) another sole carer becomes suddenly ill, which bumps her back to the end of the queue.
It's a hell of a way to live.
I encounter literally scores of these situations in my travels in the South-west, and there is a backlog of suffering around this issue that the general community treats with stoic disregard.
The book itself is a report on the inquiry into better support for carers conducted by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family, Housing, Community and Youth.
The committee was chaired by Annette Ellis, and its members were Judi Moylan, Tony Abbott, Louise Markus, Jodie Campbell, Julie Collins, Sophie Mirabella (from 10/11/08) Scott Morrison (from 25/9/08), Sussan Ley MP(until 10/11/08), Brett Raguse, Kirsten Livermore and Chris Trevor.
What this means is the committee crossed party lines, and for me this adds credibility to the report.
Published in April this year it lists thousands of narratives about situations involving carers, taken as extracts from 1305 submissions from all over the country. Public hearings were also held in all state capitals.
To me, apart from the 50 recommendations coming out of the report, the kicker is on page 147. It refers to an appeal by Ms Liz Kelly, mother of a child with severe disabilities. She urged the committee to support the submission for a National Disability Insurance Scheme that came from the 2020 Summit.
Despite the derision directed at this summit by the cynics, this was one initiative coming out of it, which, if seen through, will be transformational.
Update: Grendel has sent the link.