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Financial stress and caregiving responsibilities significantly impacting wellbeing

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

Aussies are being hit hard by economic troubles and financial difficulties. This is reportedly taking its toll on our mental wellbeing, as people are forced to juggle responsibilities.

The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index outlined just how severe the pressure has become for people. In fact, the report found that we’re at record-low economic satisfaction, with perceptions of the economy at its lowest level in the 22-year history of reporting and worse than the global financial crisis.

“Australians are feeling worried about the economy and financially stressed,” said Dr Kate Lycett, lead researcher of the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index.


“Rising living costs and interest rates are putting immense pressure on many people, particularly those with mortgages and those trying to get into the housing market. Without a lift in economic satisfaction, our national wellbeing will likely remain stagnant.”

Households with a combined income of under $100,000 saw significantly lower wellbeing scores than their counterparts.

Furthermore, age played a part in determining results, as those aged 55 and under noted poorer wellbeing than older Australians.

Esther Kerr, chief executive of wealth and capital markets at Australian Unity, commented: “Addressing wellbeing inequities in these respective demographics is essential. The findings likely reflect a ‘pressure cooker’ effect caused by the rising cost of living, higher interest rates, stubborn inflation, and global economic uncertainty. This appears to be affecting the financial wellbeing of people who were previously able to cope or had a savings buffer to carry them through tough times.”

Compounding these financial troubles are caregiver responsibilities, which are also playing a role in hindering our population’s wellbeing. Informal carers (meaning those who provide care to loved ones) are feeling the pressure the most.

“Informal carers who cared for more than 20 hours a week recorded notably lower personal wellbeing and higher levels of mental distress compared to those in professional caring and non-caring roles. Those with a caring load of 40 hours or more seemed to be doing even worse,” said Dr Lycett.

“These findings suggest that people with high caring commitments in informal capacities need more support. They are also strong learnings for us as a society when we think about the ageing population and just how big the care economy is going to become.”

HR Leader previously discussed how employers can better support employees with caregiving responsibilities. Some tips to assist are:

  • Senior management actively supports the carer strategy.
  • Create a cooperative and supportive workplace culture.
  • Communicate about carers’ issues.
  • Provide access to basic facilities to accommodate carers’ needs.
  • Consider each request from carers fairly and consistently.

Prue Bowden, Australian Unity’s home health chief executive, concluded: “The care economy is fundamental to the health of our whole society, not just our ageing population. It’s integral that we ensure workers in the industry are provided with secure, safe jobs with decent wages, conditions and opportunities for career development. In order for the care workforce to grow, we need to professionalise the work and shift the community mindset from being an unskilled job to one of the most rewarding careers.”

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.