The disability support industry is facing a dramatic shortage of trained carers, leaving thousands of families without regular care and much needed respite.
Lateline spent a day with Fiona Hough and her five-year-old son Charlie, who has autism, to see how they cope when the carer doesn't come.
"Not having that person there, it's amazing how quickly you can get down into really dark territory," Ms Hough said.
Disability agencies say they are struggling to recruit staff and keep up with the demand from families in need.
All this comes as politicians clash over how to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Demand for carers is only likely to grow as the NDIS is rolled out.