Peter and Betty McCoy have been named as Yooralla ambassadors for Carer's Week this week.By Jess Craig
In the McCoy family, when a big decision needs to be made, they run it by everyone.
So when Peter and Betty decided they wanted to become carers, they called their nine children and told them what they were thinking.
That was almost 15 years ago.
‘‘We saw a Yooralla ad in the newspaper when we were living in Melbourne,’’ Betty said.
‘‘Not long after, we left for a holiday to Townsville, so on the drive up, we talked about it.
‘‘We ran the idea past our children and they were supportive, so we decided to do it.’’
Peter and Betty now care full-time for two people at their Echuca home.
Regarded as dedicated volunteers, Peter and Betty have been named as ambassadors for Yooralla Family Options program in a bid to help recruit more carers for children and young people with disability.
‘‘It’s a very rewarding thing to do, but it is a big commitment,’’ Peter said.
‘‘It’s just like having another child, so that responsibility is always there.
‘‘You’ve got to be prepared to do the hard yards, but for every challenge, there’s a reward.’’
Betty said they have had people questioning why they would choose to be carers after having nine children of their own.
‘‘What we did get asked was ‘why would you volunteer to do this, this is your time’, but it is just so rewarding,’’ she said.
‘‘There is sacrifice, but we’ve always been family oriented. And we do still get time together.
‘‘There’s ups and downs, like any family.
‘‘If you can get one laugh, one smile in the day, that’s what you need, that keeps you going.’’
Peter and Betty were first exposed to the world of caring through their son, PJ.
PJ now operates the new LaundryMates venture in Echuca.
‘‘While we were living in Stawell, PJ was involved with Woodbines, a group in Warracknabeal, and bringing home people with disabilities,’’ Betty said.
‘‘It was really through PJ that we came to be carers, and he’s been invaluable in giving us advice over the years.’’
Peter said the most important piece of advice PJ gave them was to recognise that people with disabilities had their own personalities.
‘‘PJ said to us, they’re kids first and their disability comes second,’’ Peter said.
‘Obviously, the disability is something you have to work with, but too often, these kids get pigeon-holed.
‘‘They’re individuals and it’s so important to see beyond their disabilities.’’
Yooralla Family Options team spokesperson Cathy Catlow said ambassadors in the program will be helping potential carers learn about the diversity of care roles, what it takes to be a carer and the benefits of being a carer.
‘‘Carers can be young people, older people, people with and without their own families, people who work and people who are retired — if you are interested in supporting young people and their families, caring may be for you,’’ she said.
Yooralla Family Options provide carers with training and support.
Carers also undergo a screening process before becoming accredited.
Carers Week, which begins today, celebrates and recognises the 2.6 million carers in the Australian community.
It provides an opportunity for carers to get together and support one another, exchange ideas and information and raise awareness about what it means to be a carer.
For information about Yooralla’s Family Options program, phone 9831 5600 or visit www.yooralla.com.au/familyoptions
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