Services have been increasingly directed at supporting carers of people living with mental illness but it is difficult to evaluate the impact of service change where benchmarks for carer functioning are sparse. Sixty Australian carers were assessed regarding their quality of life, psychological distress, social isolation and caregiving experience. Their scores were compared with two matched community samples and previous studies. Carers were ten times more likely to be socially isolated and quality of life was significantly less than matched community samples. Over 40 % of the carer sample met criteria for probable psychiatric disorder. Comparison of caregiving experiences with a study 15 years ago showed no improvement in negative caregiving experiences. Carers still face considerable challenges to their wellbeing as they support people living with mental illness, in spite of progress in the development of policy and services.