Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

$15.7 million to help young carers

The Australian Government will provide $15.7 million to extend a national program to assist young carers balance the demands of caring with their education.

There are more than 170,000 young carers in Australia under the age of 17 and around 380,000 under 25 years old.

Juggling growing up with caring responsibilities brings demands most of us can’t imagine.

The Young Carers Program provides young carers with access to respite care to attend education, training and recreational activities through the Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres.

The program also provides a range of information, referral and advice services to support young carers in managing the challenges they may face as part of their caring role.

Respite programs are absolutely essential to giving carers a break from the huge demands of caring for a loved one.

An independent report of the program by ARTD Consultants found there was great demand for the program and made recommendations for improving the service.

Some of these recommendations have already been acted upon. The program has been expanded to include secondary young carers in a household and also carers in primary school where their education is being affected by their caring duties.

The program will continue in its new, more flexible format while we work with young carers on how better to meet their needs.

Thirty-two young carers from around Australia are attending the 2008 Young Carers Forum at Parliament House today and tomorrow. The participants have identified four main areas of concern – access to government services, identification, respite and education.

The Government is committed to providing as much support as possible to make young carers’ lives a bit easier.

Carers will receive some immediate financial relief from 8 December 2008, as part of the Government’s $10.4 billion Economic Security Strategy.

Those on Carer Payment will receive $1,400 for singles and $2,100 for couples, while Carer Allowance recipients get $1,000 for each eligible person being cared for.

Disability Support Pensioners will also benefit from the payments.