Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Recognising and acknowledging carers

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Justine Elliott MP, Minister for Ageing

The Australian Government today introduced legislation into Parliament to formally recognise and acknowledge the challenges and sacrifices that come with the job of being a carer and to improve the way the Government works with carers.

The legislation establishes a definition of a carer, and includes a Statement for Australia’s Carers which sets out key principles on how carers should be treated and considered by Commonwealth public service agencies and their funded providers.

All public service agencies are now required to consider the Statement when developing human resource policies that affect their employees’ caring roles.

Agencies whose policies and programs are directed to carers, or the people they care for, also need to consult with carers and report annually on action undertaken.

As well, organisations funded by the Australian Government to support carers, or the people that they care for, need to adopt the Statement’s principles in their interaction with carers.

As well as acknowledging the significant social and economic contribution carers make, the legislation is also aimed at changing attitudes and perceptions.

It’s important that we raise public awareness of the demands and responsibilities of caring and the physical, emotional and financial toll this can take.

This formal acknowledgement of the vital role of carers is the first element of fundamental reform to support carers through the Government’s National Carer Recognition Framework.

The Government is also developing a National Carer Strategy which will shape our long-term agenda for reform and guide policy development and the delivery of services by government agencies and non-government organisations that work with carers.

The Framework is central to the Government’s response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family, Community, Housing and Youth report Who Cares? Report on the inquiry into better support for carers.

Enhancing the status and profile of carers builds on the Government’s practical measures to improve the lives of carers through significant reforms across the disability, health, mental health and aged care service systems.

These include:

  • Delivering a $60 a fortnight increase to the base pension plus an increase of $5 a fortnight in the new Pension Supplement for carers receiving the maximum single rate of Carer Payment. With the indexation increases from 20 March, this is a total increase of around $100 a fortnight.
  • Guaranteeing the certainty of an annual ongoing Carers Supplement of $600 for each person cared for, benefitting around 500,000 carers.
  • Overhauling the complex and restrictive eligibility requirements for Carer Payment (Child).
  • Significantly boosting funding to the State and Territory governments for specialist disability services including supported accommodation, in-home care and respite.
  • Commissioning the Productivity Commission to examine the feasibility, costs and benefits of a National Long-term Disability Care and Support Scheme.