Minister for Ageing and Disability Services John Ajaka today celebrated the start of National Carers Week by announcing that Mrs Sheila Openshaw will be awarded the NSW Carer of the Year Award for her dedication to care for her two sons, who both live with mental illness.

Mr Ajaka said that there are more than 857,000 carers in NSW, including over 100,000 who are under the age of 25. Across Australia this year it would cost $60.3 billion to replace the care provided by carers with formal services.

“I congratulate the NSW Carer of the Year, Mrs Sheila Openshaw, for her outstanding commitment to her sons, and all those who were nominated for the Awards,” Mr Ajaka said.

“The NSW Government thanks you for your extraordinary role in our community. Without carers, many people would not be able to enjoy independence and participate fully in their communities.”

“During National Carers Week, I encourage everyone to reach out to a carer they know and offer a gesture of support and care.

In addition to caring for both her sons, Mrs Openshaw is deeply involved in Port Macquarie. For her significant community work she was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow Award.

“I am passionate about my role as a carer, and dedicated to working with the community to increase public awareness about mental illness,” Mrs Openshaw said.

“Caring for my two sons has been challenging during the past 22 years, it has made me more compassionate, understanding and wise.”

The 2015 Awards will recognise 65 carers and organisations. This year’s Carers Week runs from today untilSaturday 17 October.

The NSW Government has a major campaign running throughout October to raise community awareness of the important contribution unpaid carers make. For more information visit www.careforacarer.nsw.gov.au.

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