Liverpool's carers recognised during National Carers Week

Allan Gregson, Margaret Gregson and Kathy Gregson (Stephen's wife) with Stephen Gregson.
Allan Gregson, Margaret Gregson and Kathy Gregson (Stephen's wife) with Stephen Gregson.

Margaret Gregson describes it as the "most rewarding job" she has ever had.

Allan and Margaret Gregson have been full-time carers for their son Stephen since he was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy when he was six.

Stephen Gregson is a local Liverpool legend. He represented Australia in swimming at the Seoul Paralympics where he made the backstroke final.

Allan and Margaret also fall into the legend category. And they are not alone. Almost 19,000 people provide unpaid assistance to a person with a disability in Liverpool - comprising 11.9 per cent of the population aged over 15. Carers are being recognised and celebrated during National Carers Week (October 10 to 16).

The Gregson family moved to Sydney from Junee after Stephen started losing his sight at 11. As a swim volunteer teacher and coach, Allan encouraged Stephen into the water from five-months-old and he joined the Wenden Swimming Club in Miller when he was 13.

"As parents of a child with a disability you always try to do all you can to give them opportunities to participate in activities they enjoy," Margaret said.

"Our proudest moment remains Stephen being named Liverpool's 'Young Citizen of the Year' on Australia Day in 1983."

At 26, Stephen's condition gradually deteriorated and his diagnosis of cerebral palsy was reversed to an undiagnosed neurological condition. Since 1999, he has gradually become completely wheelchair bound and lives as independently as he can with wife Kathy in Liverpool. Kathy, who was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy, like Stephen, represented Australia at the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled and World Championships for swimming. Allan taught Kathy to swim.

For Margaret, National Carers Week serves as a reminder to carers they are not alone in the challenges they face.

"It's not easy but it is the most rewarding job I've ever had over the past 59 years right from the very start of Stephen's life. I believe most carers in my position who have had to support a child born with a disability would feel the same way," said Margaret, who together with Allan helped form the Cerebral Palsy Sporting and Recreation Association NSW.

"Together, what we achieved with our son Stephen and later our daughter-in-law Kathy was wonderful. Both were able to overcome some extremely difficult physical obstacles to achieve their goals."

Liverpool mayor Wendy Waller said carers should be celebrated all- year round for their "amazing work". According to statistics from Carers Australia, unpaid carers were estimated to be providing 2.2 billion hours of unpaid care last year.

"Cares are among the unsung heroes of our community embodying empathy, reliance and self-sacrifice," she said.

"Liverpool City Council continues to support initiatives to improve access and inclusion within our community because we know everyone benefits, not just those with a disability but their carers, friends and family."

Liverpool Council have facilitated a week-long list of online activities workshops and information sessions for National Carers Week in partnership with Wellways Carer Gateway program, Parks Community Network , Settlement Services International and Canterbury-Bankstown Council.

  • This year's theme for National Carers Week is 'Millions of Reasons to Care' which encompasses the diversity of carers and their caring roles.