Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Carers – ABC Radio National

Program: ABC Radio National, Life Matters

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JENNY MACKLIN:…just listening to some of the people on your program this morning and having read some of the submissions and of course I talk to many carers, I do understand that we have a very big task in front of us. We have of course made some progress already in the time that we’ve been in Government. One of the most significant I think has been the additions to disability funding adding to the number of supported accommodation places for example. As your listeners this morning have commented this is a critical area as the carers age that we provide more places, more supported accommodation for their disabled children as they grow into adults. We also understand just how critical the issue of respite is so that people get a break and we’ve provided some additional places for respite and are trying to make that as flexible as possible to meet people’s needs.

RICHARD AEDY: I know you are very busy with Budget meetings and things at the moment, but I mean as we’ve heard today on the show and not for the first time, the value of what carers contribute to the Australian economy is more than $30 billion a year, I don’t think they’d be expecting $30 billion from the Government especially in these times, but can we expect a strong response in the Budget for this?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we certainly, first of all if I can say we certainly do recognise the enormous contribution that carers make and we know that fundamentally they do it out of love, that comes through so strongly. Whenever you meet a carer of a child or a family member we know why carers do it and we as a Government, like all Governments, have a responsibility to provide support. There will of course be a response in part in the Budget because as you would know we’ve been conducting a major review of the pension system and that includes support, financial support for carers, so there certainly will be a response to that. The critical underpinning issue of money.

RICHARD AEDY: There’s a story in I think it’s today’s Sydney Morning Herald suggesting there will be carer measures in the Budget, it talks about $1.8 million going to events, carer and person being cared for, $9.3 million for I think it’s 250 out-of-school care places for teens with disabilities or serious medical conditions. It’s still doesn’t sound like very much.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well as you can imagine I can’t confirm or deny any reports about Budget measures today, but neither of those measures go to the fundamental issue about the level of the carer payment and that will be part of our response to the pension review and you can certainly anticipate we recognise the need to provide improved support to carers particularly those carers who are entirely reliant on the carer payment. We do also recognise though that it’s more than that. It’s about making sure that the disability funding increases and late last year the Council of Australian Governments agreed to a very substantial increase in the funding for disability services and for the first time the money provided will be indexed at around 6 per cent over the life of the agreement, a very significant improvement to previous levels of indexation. So that will make sure that the sorts of support services continue to be improved.

RICHARD AEDY: Minister thank you very much for joining us today.