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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2950 ..

What the education minister did was quite cruel. She played with the emotions of Anna, and many other students like her, and all of their parents. I call upon the minister to apologise to all of them and to explain why she clearly indicated that year 12 students were returning on 5 October when very clearly at government schools they did not.

National Carers Week

MR BRADDOCK (Yerrabi) (6.18): I rise today because I care. Next week is National Carers Week, a time to recognise the 2.65 million Australians who provide care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, a medical condition, a terminal illness or a mental illness, or a person who is frail and aged.

National Carers Week gives us the opportunity to highlight the valuable contribution that carers make to our community and raise awareness about the diversity of carers and their caring roles. Every carer is unique and has their own caring story. The more carer stories we share, the louder our voice will be.

I care for my wife, who has physical and mental disabilities. I care for my daughter, who has additional needs. What does it mean to me to be a carer? One word: tough. It has taken a great physical, mental and emotional toll.

The challenges started after the birth of our twin children. Their early years were the worst. I look back and still have no idea how we got through some of the crises. I know it was only due to the herculean efforts of friends, family, support workers and advocates, and I deeply thank them all. But, despite all this help, I cannot find the words to describe it when it was at its worst. The crushing fatigue, meaning I was almost falling asleep on my feet. The responsibility of trying to keep a family unit afloat. The desperation of leaving no stone unturned to find a way to get through another day, week, month or year.

Things have improved as we have learned strategies, connected with supports, for how to manage. But there is no way I would describe it as easy. I recognise that we are still in a privileged position and that we were lucky that things did improve. The worst did not break us, but it was very close.

What has being a carer given me? It has given me a far greater understanding of the challenges in people’s lives; a greater empathy as a husband, father, manager and representative; more perspective on life, with all its challenges and warts; and a resilience I did not know that I had within me. To all carers, I would like to say this: I see you. I invite you to share your story, to reach out and accept any help that you can find.

I would like to give a shout out to Carers ACT. They are a not-for-profit organisation and a peak body for carers in the ACT. Their purpose is to support, connect and empower carers to maintain their caring role and personal wellbeing. Carers ACT were there whenever we cried for help. They helped me; they helped many others; and they will continue to help. I thank them for that.

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