Carers have a key role in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of family members, partners or friends. Carers have their own unique needs and may also require help or support.

Caring for someone

A carer is anyone who provides help and support for another person with:

  • physical
  • emotional
  • social, or
  • financial activities

Caring can include providing personal care and assistance to someone, due to:

  • disability
  • chronic disease or medical condition
  • terminal illness
  • mental health issues
  • alcohol or other drug issues 
  • frailty or older age

The caring role can take many different forms. For example, some people are part-time carers while other people are full-time carers. Care is often provided by an adult, however, teenagers and children can also find themselves in caring roles.

Carers can have multiple roles, for example:

  • some veterans are also caregivers to parents, partners, children and other loved ones
  • partners, parents or children of veterans may also find themselves taking on a care provider role 

Being a carer is often an informal and voluntary arrangement where someone steps into a role through necessity. Many people providing this sort of support in their family relationships may not have considered themselves to be a ‘carer’.

Caring experiences

The experiences of carers vary and can change depending on what is happening in the carer’s life or in the life of the person they care for.

Some caring experiences can be positive, for example:

  • knowing you are helping someone who needs you
  • spending time with someone you care about
  • learning new skills
  • receiving appreciation from your loved one and others

Caring experiences can also be difficult, for example, if you:

  • need to exert physical effort 
  • are at risk of emotional burn out
  • feel isolated
  • experience financial strain on yourself or your loved ones
  • have sacrificed employment or social opportunities

Open Arms services

All carers and interested community members can access the self-help tools and resources available on this website. As a carer of a veteran, or a veteran who is a carer, you can also call us on 1800 011 046 to find out what support and services we can offer you or your loved ones.

Note: You don't need to receive a Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) or other Commonwealth government carer allowance to access support from Open Arms.

If you are a carer, we may be able to support you to:

  • develop practical skills to support your own mental health and wellbeing
  • connect with a peer worker who has shared lived experience as a carer 
  • resolve barriers and find solutions for accessing services, assistance and social connections
  • access free and confidential counselling 
  • engage in free mental health training
  • access health, wellbeing, education, aged care and bereavement support

Open Arms staff understand the importance of the caring role and its unique demands in both military and civilian contexts. Some of our counsellors have also had military and carer experiences.

Specialised help

Carers Australia is the national peak body representing Australia’s unpaid carers. It delivers national programs, support and services for carers across Australia.

The Carer Gateway provides in-person, phone and online services and support to Australia’s unpaid carers. State and localised carer services and support groups can be found through the Carer Gateway.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) helps people with disabilities live a full and meaningful life.

My Aged Care is the Australian Government's starting point on the aged care journey. Find and access the government-funded services you need.

Mental Health Carers Australia is a national advocacy group solely concerned with the well-being and promotion of mental health carer needs. Their mission is to be the national voice for mental health carers to enable the best possible life. 

Young Carers Network is a place for young carers to learn about support services, access resources and share their story and opinions.

Head to Health's Supporting yourself - carers can help you find digital mental health services in from some of Australia’s most trusted mental health organisations.

DVA Respite offers three types of respite care available via the Veterans’ Home Care Respite Program:

Contact us

Call Open Arms on 1800 011 046 to learn how we can help you support you in your caring role. 

See also

  • family having picnic


    Open Arms counselling is available to family members of current and ex-serving ADF personnel. Where there has been a death of a service person through suicide, parents and siblings can receive bereavement support.
  • NAVY children


    Being the child of a veteran can lead to a unique childhood. Young people respond to the same things we do – they see, hear and sense things – but may not be able to understand or talk about their emotions and needs in the same way we can.
  • call us 1800 011 046


    Open Arms can provide individual, couple and family counselling to help improve your resilience, as well as enhance your mental health and wellbeing. Call 1800-011-046 for free and confidential 24/7 support.