Media Release by The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP

More support for young carers

Young carers of people with mental illness will now be better supported by a national counselling service, thanks to a $251,000 investment from the Gillard Government.

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers Amanda Rishworth MP said there are around 850,000 young carers in Australia, and 11 per cent of these are primary carers of persons with a mental illness.

“Young carers are at far greater risk of developing mental health problems than other young people,” Ms Rishworth said.

“This funding boost will allow Carers Australia to increase support for young carers of people with mental illness by delivering a counsellor training program to its national network of carer counselling organisations.

“The training program, specifically tailored for counsellors working with children and young people, has been successfully trialled in 27 sites across Queensland.

“With this funding boost, Carers Australia will train around 100 counsellors to better respond to the needs, concerns and aspirations of our young carers, support them in their important caring role and reduce the risk of young carers themselves developing mental illnesses.

“This funding injection is on top of annual funding of $500,000 provided to Carers Australia to deliver a national counselling service for carers of people with mental illness.

“Caring for someone with a mental illness has particular challenges and statistics show there is a clear need to support our young carers.

“Juggling caring responsibilities while at the same time balancing school or work commitments can be extremely challenging. Young carers often take on responsibilities well beyond their years, such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting finances, managing medication and assisting with personal care.

“The Gillard Government believes that young carers deserve to be supported, and to enjoy the same opportunities as other young people.

“That’s why we remain committed to supporting these extraordinary young people so they can balance education, training and recreational activities – all things that should be part of growing up.

“In 2011 we launched our National Carer Strategy which, for the first time, takes a national approach to better respond to the needs of carers so that carers have the same rights, choices and opportunities as other Australians.

“The strategy includes $1.6 million to deliver a national campaign to raise awareness and recognise the role and contribution carers make to individuals and the community.

And it includes $8 million each year to support young carers who are at risk of not completing Year 12.

“These are very important investments but DisabilityCare Australia, the national disability insurance scheme, will fundamentally transform the way we support people with disability, their families and their carers.

“It will give people with disability more choice and control over the care and support they receive and the certainty that they will get the support they need.”

The 2013-14 Federal Budget provided $14.3 billion over seven years to 2018-19 to roll out DisabilityCare Australia nationally, on top of existing Commonwealth disability funding.