Her supporters include The Coca-Cola Australia Foundation, 96.5 FM Family, Your Digital File Smarter Security, Epic Hair Designs, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust, Westpac, HWL Ebsworth Lawyers, James Frizelle Charitable Foundation, Aquila Creative, JWJ Consulting, Women & Change
Meet Ronnie Benbow, Founding Director – The Carers Foundation Australia, Passionate Carer Advocate, Moreton Bay Citizen of the Year 2021, QLD Australian of the Year Nominee 2021, Femeconomy Qld Voices Winner
Ronnie Benbow, the organisation’s founding director, has had a burning desire for over a decade to create a healing, nurturing center that would rejuvenate and educate family caregivers who were experiencing extreme stress and exhaustion.
Ronnie knows professionally and personally the relentless demands and debilitating stress that family carers face on a daily basis as a Registered Nurse with a Degree in Health Science and a professional background in health care and personal caring circumstances.
Aside from her many years as a nurse and community worker, Ronnie has also personally cared for her husband, Michael, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a near fatal accident, one of her four sons who had a debilitating medical condition, and her elderly parents, of whom she cared for her beloved father until he passed away.
For the past 15 years, together with her husband Michael (formerly in Business Management), they decided to combine their professional skills and use their retreat facility to privately fund and offer respite and support for carers in crisis.
Ronnie and Michael would see Carers arrive that were stressed, exhausted, almost broken and riddled with guilt for taking time out. They soon realised there was nowhere for them to go when they were at breaking point.
They saw hundreds of carers leave feeling empowered, have a completely new perspective on their situation, are more resilient and had a sense of hope knowing that if there was a continued struggle at home, they could come back another time.
The most rewarding outcome was to see carers meet others in similar situations that enabled them to share problems and find new solutions, plus make new lifelong friends with people that completely understood what it’s like in their situation, which helps alleviate Social Isolation often associated with Caring.
After seeing the significant difference these programs made, as Co-Founders, they were inspired to formally establish and incorporate the charity in 2015.
They then began the battle to seek external funding so they could scale the impact of their unique wellness programs, acutely aware of how so many more carers needed support.
In 2017, The Carers Foundation Australia received their first government grant to provide Wellness programs to Carers.
This was backed up by a three-year Flagship Partnership with The Coca Cola Australia Foundation – to provide wellness programs to Young Carers. Current funding sources include Donations, Grants, and active fundraising events.
The Carers Foundation is a registered DGR1 Health and Education Promotion Charity with full tax deductibility.
The Foundation is led by the Founding Director, a Board and active Ambassadors, plus are supported by a qualified team of professional therapists, counsellors and dedicated volunteers. All members have to have Caring experience or have been Carers to be eligible to join the Foundation team.
Even though we are currently a small charity, we are big in impact and outcomes.
Who are carers?
Carers are mums, dads, grandparents, siblings and other family and friends who look after someone who becomes sick through Cancer, Medical Conditions, Accidents, Mental Health or Aging or Disability.
Carers are also children as young as eight years old. They provide any type of emotional or physical support, for any amount of time.
Most of us don’t think it’s anything special to be a carer. It’s just a part of life. We’re just doing what you do as a mum, dad, daughter, son, or friend. While this is true, caring for someone who is sick is an unavoidable part of relationships. Caring for someone also has risks to your physical and mental health.
Anyone, at any time, can become a caregiver due to an accident, cancer, medical illness, or mental illness.
There are currently over 2.7 million registered carers in Australia, and most likely more are not registered.
Carers save the economy over $64 billion annually, which is over $1 billion per week! The entire medical system would collapse without family carers doing what they do, so The Carers Foundation Australia identifies and acknowledges that these carers need to be supported physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Ronnie was recently featured in Courier Mail as South East Queensland’s 50 Most Inspiring Women.
What I love most about Ronnie is her relentless love. Love for those who need it most. She is the epitome of care and is the brightest light that draws everyone to her and her commitment to making others’ lives better. She is a truly exceptional advocate and is the real deal.
Keep an eye for her on stage in 2022!
As a Woman with Influence, Ronnie is part of our Women with Influence Community, maybe you can see yourself being part of this community too!?