Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

Improving counselling services for Australia’s carers and their families

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator Jan McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers

Carers and their families will be able to access improved family relationship and support services that cater specifically to their needs, under reforms to the Family Relationship Services for Carers initiative announced by the Australian Government today.

From 1 July this year the Family Relationship Services for Carers initiative will be integrated into the Government’s Family Support Program. Service providers will continue to receive funding to provide important support for carers of children with disability and their families.

An independent evaluation of the Family Relationship Services for Carers initiative found it duplicated other initiatives focused on supporting carers and their families and was hampered by a lack of clear goals .

The independent evaluation also found service providers in each state and territory provided varying levels of support and there was no consistency in their operation. To combat this it was recommended that consistent reporting and monitoring standards be introduced.

Integrating this initiative into the Family Support Program will help address duplications and will allow clear objectives, targets and performance measures to be developed for service providers over the coming months.

It will help parents, siblings and carers access specialist advice and support, including to help them manage the particular challenges that caring for a child with disability can bring.

The new Family Support Program streamlines more than 20 family and children’s services programs into four to give services greater flexibility and capacity to respond to the diverse nature and needs of families.

A major feature of the new Family Support Program will be the requirement for providers to ensure vulnerable and disadvantaged families and children are prioritised. It will also reduce red tape and simplify reporting and funding arrangements.

The Government will work closely with the eight service providers currently delivering the Family Relationship Services for Carers program over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements from 1 July.