Community Campaign for a Carer & Family Retreat
In Western Australia there are approximately 320,000 people who help care for a family member or friend in need. These people undertake a much valued and recognised role in the community that is integral and complementary to the formal network of healthcare and social supports services.
Family members and carers reduce the demand for and dependence on paid care in health and community services. In 2015, the estimated replacement value of informal care in Australia was more than $60 billion annually.
The Carers Alliance, a collaborative multi-sector community service partnership led by Carers WA, HelpingMinds, Down Syndrome WA and other community stakeholders have been canvassing and developing the idea of a community retreat since 2018, and are now seeking support to make the Retreat a reality.
The proposed WA Community Retreat for Families and Carers entails the development and operation of a dedicated retreat with facilities providing social support services and wellbeing activities. Developed as a collaborative multi-sector community service partnership led by Carers WA, HelpingMinds and Down Syndrome WA, this proposal offers an innovative concept of affordable short-term accommodation with links to ongoing support services for people in recognised caring roles in the WA community.
The benefits of the proposed wellbeing retreat for families and carers include:
- Improved wellbeing for both the carer and the person being cared for
- Strengthened capacity for families and carers to cope and build resilience
- Greater quality of care through accessible support services, and,
- Reduced demand on formal healthcare and social support systems
Recognising and supporting carers is critical to the future sustainability of carers and the people they care for, and, to overall community wellbeing. The lives and needs of carers and the people they care for are entwined, but they are not the same. The Retreat has the capacity to strengthen the ability of carers to maintain their caring role in the longer term, to the benefit of the wider community and the healthcare and social services systems.
Supporting carers' health and wellbeing directly relates to their capacity to provide care.
Having the experience of a retreat to have a break, “recharge the batteries” and connect with community support, will help carers support the people they care for to:
- Stay connected with and involved in the community
- Maintain their independence and remain in their home
- Have choice and control over their own lives
- Live with dignity
- Continue to live with their families and friends
- Achieve and maintain quality of life.
What will the proposed community retreat look like?
The initial phase of the Retreat developed by the Carers Alliance proposed the purchase and refurbishment of a homestead and adjacent land in order to build 20 chalets, a Healing and Education complex, landscaped gardens and recreational facilities. This would allow a capacity of 40 occupants (beds) with facilities for facilities management and support services staff on site.
Land known as the Mauravillo Estate in the Shire of Mundaring has been propsed as a suitable option for the Retreat. Mauravillo is less than one hour from Perth and is nestled near Wundowie Village, 15 minutes from Mundaring and 15 minutes from Northam. The land has an established property (four-bedroom Homestead) along with over 20 acres of land to build a retreat facility as outlined in the indicative concept plan. Indicative planning advice from the is that the proposal can be suitably accommodated in the planning framework for the Shire of Mundaring.
The services and activities that may be provided at the Retreat include general accommodation services (e.g. accommodation, food, cleaning and reception), a range of relaxation services and activities, healing services and information and linkage services pre and post-retreat.
Proposed Community Retreat Supporters:
- Andrew Walton - Head of Corporate Affairs, HBF
- Carrie Clark - CEO, Kalparrin
- John van der Wielen - CEO, HBF
- Julie Waylen - State Manager, National Disability Services
- Nigel Barker - CEO, Cystic Fybrosis WA
- Timothy Marney - Former Western Australian Mental Health Commissioner
 Access Economics. 2015. The Economic Value of Informal Care. A Report for Carers Australia.