EPISODE #88 | Making Australia's workplaces carer-inclusive

Across Australia, there are 2.65 million people who dedicate their lives to caring for family members or friends with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or age-related conditions. These unpaid carers, often unsung heroes, can face financial hardship due to limited income opportunities, paired with the significant cost of care. Whilst caring can greatly expand someone’s skill set, carers also shoulder immense emotional pressures as they navigate the demanding and complex landscape of care provision for their loved ones.

In this episode of Work with Purpose, our host Caroline Walsh, CEO of IPAA ACT, has a meaningful conversation about carers and how workplaces can support them with our guests, some of whom also share their own personal experience as carers. Joining us are Robyn Shannon, acting deputy secretary for the Department of Social Services, Lisa Kelly, CEO of Carers ACT, and Alex Allars, executive branch manager, Whole of Government Industrial Relations & Public Sector Employment, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate, ACT Government. This episode examines the public support mechanisms for carers at both the federal and ACT levels, and explores how these systems may need to evolve in the future.

Discussed in this episode:

  • The impact of caring responsibilities and the differing needs of carer cohorts
  • Government initiatives like the Carer Gateway, payments, and the planned National Carers Strategy
  • ACT government efforts to support carers in workplaces and the effects on productivity and engagement
  • Advocacy and engagement with carers in policymaking
  • Visions for an ideal carer-supportive Australia.



Robyn Shannon
Robyn Shannon, with over 20 years of service in the Australian Public Service, is currently the acting deputy secretary for the Department of Social Services. Prior to this, she held pivotal roles at the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, managing procurement, program, and contract management functions during COVID-19, and contributed significantly to the implementation of Workforce Australia. Her experience spans across various policy, program, and corporate roles.

Lisa Kelly
Lisa Kelly, a passionate advocate for quality support and recognition of carers, currently serves as the CEO of Carers ACT. She has worked extensively in the community sector and holds degrees in psychology and community development. Prior to joining Carers ACT, Lisa worked primarily in the mental health and youth sectors for agencies such as Lifeline, Headspace, Richmond Fellowship and the Australian Childhood Foundation. She has spent a large part of her career implementing innovative and award-winning services and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Carers ACT. Lisa has a long history of supporting and advocating for carers stretching back to being appointed to the Ministerial National Family Carers Voice in 2004.

Alex Allars
Alex Allars is currently serving as the executive branch manager for Whole of Government Industrial Relations & Public Sector Employment within the Treasury and Economic Development Directorate of the ACT Government. Prior to this, she showcased her leadership skills as the executive branch manager of People and Performance at the ACT Government Education Directorate. In addition to being a proud Canberran and public servant, Alex is mum to three teenagers and the legal guardian of one of her younger siblings who has complex, debilitating and persistent psychological and psychosocial needs.

Carers can contact the Carer Gateway by calling 1800 422 737 or visiting the Carer Gateway website to see what services and supports are available to help in their caring role.

If you'd like to know more about payment assistance including eligibility and how to apply, you can contact Services Australia by calling 132 717 or on the Services Australia website.


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IPAA ACT acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of country throughout Australia, and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Contact IPAA

ABN: 24 656 727 375
Phone: (02) 6154 9800
Unit 4A, 16 National Circuit,
Barton ACT 2600

Postal Address

PO Box 4349
Kingston ACT 2604

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