September 17, 2021

The Victorian Government has recently released the findings of the first Victorian Home-based Carer Census (the census).  It is the Carer Strategy (2017) plan’s major action for the year 2020-2021.

The overarching objective of the census was to gain a deeper understanding of Victoria’s carers to ensure policy and support services are targeted towards the specific needs of each carer group to provide them with the support they need. ​ 

The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) engaged EY Sweeney from August 2020 to develop and progress the census. A total of 1,788 carers completed the survey. The census was delivered via an online survey that was open from November 2020 to February 2021. This timing enabled the survey to capture the experiences of carers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Among the carers who responded to the census, kinship care was marginally the most common care type (41 per cent), ahead of foster care (39 per cent). 23 per cent of children of carers who responded to the survey were being cared for under a permanent care arrangement at the time of the census. It is important to note that the proportions add up to over 100 percent due to some carers undertaking multiple care types.

The census gathered data on:

  • Carer characteristics
  • Attitudes
  • Experiences
  • Needs of Victorian kinship, foster and permanent carers

Key findings

  • Distinct demographic profiles of carers – There was a higher proportion of; male, younger and higher income carers within the foster carer cohort who responded to the survey. Whereas there were a higher proportion of female, older and lower income carers within the kinship and permanent carer cohorts. Kinship carers had a higher proportion of Aboriginal carers than other carer types and Aboriginal carers are confident in supporting children in their care to maintain connection with their cultural identity and heritage.
  • Variation exists in engaging with the system and accessing support – Foster carers are more likely to access various supports and training and as a result are exhibiting higher levels of preparedness, confidence and engagement with support, than other carer types. Kinship carers on the other hand exhibit the lowest levels of awareness of support and training available to them and need to be engaged better.
  • Carers want to feel heard and understand the support on offer ­– Carers indicated the need to feel respected and heard. The influence of other carers plays a role in the propensity to start caring, and currently 22 percent of carers would not recommend being a carer to others. The key reasons were difficulties with the system and low awareness of support. Carers need both information and tailored support to focus on their mental health and wellbeing can be beneficial.
  • Minimising the financial impact of caring – Despite the presence of supports, the insufficiency of the carer allowance was highlighted as a key issue. Carers reported that they had to access personal finance to meet their responsibilities. Kinship carers receive the lowest level of care allowance and they, along with permanent carers, were most commonly using their personal savings.

The census findings provide valuable insights into the experiences of carers across carer types to inform care services improvements.

The final report from EY Sweeney and infographics of the key findings have now been published on the Victorian Government website – click here to access it.

Researchers, service delivery partners, carers and community can access the census aggregate data sets by contacting the DFFH Quality Improvement System Reform branch at