Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Carers to benefit from Government reforms

Today the Australian Government introduced legislation into Parliament to implement a fairer assessment process to improve access to financial support for carers of children with severe disability and medical conditions.

It is estimated that up to 19,000 carers will be eligible for Carer Payment (child) from 1 July this year.

In 2007, a review into the effectiveness of Carer Payment (child) found that overly restrictive and complex eligibility requirements meant thousands of parents, providing intensive care for their children, were ineligible for the payment.

At the time of the review only 3,500 carers received the payment.

Following the passage of this legislation through Parliament, eligibility for the payment will depend on the level of care required rather than a narrow set of medical and behavioural criteria.

At the heart of these changes is a new, fairer assessment process based on the level of care required by the child and provided by the carer, rather than a strict, medical definition of profound disability.

We are also cutting red tape so that parents who qualify for Carer Payment (child) will automatically qualify for Carer Allowance, removing the requirement for more forms and medical examinations.

The changes will also allow a range of health professionals including physiotherapists, registered nurses and Aboriginal health workers in remote areas to provide assessment – not just doctors and specialists.

And there will be support for parents in those times when their child needs intensive care; for example when a child is undergoing treatment for conditions including cancer or trauma.

The Australian Government is committed to supporting and helping carers of children with a disability, and to working with state and territory governments to improve access to respite and other support services they need.

Improving and expanding access to Carer Payment (child) builds on other support measures for carers including the 2008 one-off payments, the Economic Security Strategy payments of $1,400 to Carer Payment recipients and $1,000 to people receiving Carer Allowance for each person being cared for.

The Government is committed to a child-centred approach to family policy.