Speech by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Carers Week, Commonwealth Financial Planning NATSEM Women Carers report

Location: Canberra


JENNY MACKLIN: Thanks very much Tim. And it’s a great pleasure to be here with Tim, but also with people from Carers Australia, Pam and Joan, who really do such a fantastic job representing and advocating for carers. So if I can just say I know the theme of Carers Week this week is for us to say thank you to carers, but if I can also on behalf of the Government say thank you to the Carers Association because carers really do have a fantastic voice, people who are always out there making sure that the hidden stories of hardship, but also of love, get told to the Australian community and I think you both do a fantastic job.

But if I can say today what a pleasure it is to launch this terrific report that has been done by Commonwealth Financial Planning. This report, the work was done by the National Centre for Economic Modelling here at the University of Canberra, it is a really significant piece of work. In a way not surprising to hear that women who dedicate their lives either to their children who have serious disabilities or to other members of their families, often older members, they could be their mothers or fathers or other relatives, they could be their spouses – it isn’t surprising to find out that they have lived a long part of their life under very significant financial stress.

But what’s important is to get the facts, and what our Government’s all about is making sure that we look at the evidence and really base our policy responses on the evidence and the evidence from this report shows that over a woman’s lifetime she can expect to earn between a quarter and half of the earnings of a woman of a similar age and that really I think demonstrates just how difficult it is for families where they have very significant financial pressures.

The Government of course recognises this and that’s one of the reasons that we made the decision that we made last week, to provide lump sum payments as a down payment of the future reform in the pension system to provide additional financial support to carers. So for those on the Carer Payment, if they’re single they will receive $1,400, if they are in a couple $2,100, if they are on Carer Payment and if they are receiving the Carer Allowance they’ll receive $1000 for each eligible child. And we know that that’s important. This report demonstrates that carers are under financial pressure and the Government’s very pleased to be able to provide that extra financial support. But we also know from all the carers that we speak to, all the evidence from the Carers Association, that carers need more than that.

One of the themes of this week is to say thank you and the reason that’s important is not just because it is a good thing to do but also to recognise the very very essential job that carers undertake to the people that they love but also for our community.

We also know we have responsibilities to improve respite, to improve the services that carers need and of course that’s a very very critical responsibility for the Government.

But right now, it gives me great pleasure to formally launch this extra study for women carers in financial stress report and to thank everybody who was involved.

Thank you.