Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Young people to benefit from $27M carer package

The Australian Government will provide $27 million to boost respite for Australia’s young carers and for carers of young people with a severe or profound disability.

The Government will provide around $20 million over three years in respite support for carers of young people with a severe or profound disability to continue to provide immediate and short-term respite to around 6,000 carers.

The Young Carers Program will receive more than $7 million over the next year to continue providing respite and information services to help young carers who are at risk of not completing secondary education because of their caring responsibilities.

Young carers will also have an opportunity to influence future government policy when they meet for a national forum on 26 and 27 November 2008 to give their views on future policy direction.

Up to forty young carers will participate in the Young Carers’ Forum 2008 with the Australian Government providing $190,000 in funding to Carers Australia for the event.

The summit is aimed at giving young carers a voice and is an opportunity for young carers to get together and share their experiences.

They will be joined by leading academics and government representatives to consider issues including education, respite and the role of government.

Around 5 per cent of Australians under the age of 25, 350,000 young people, provide care to another person. Of these, more than 20,000 are the primary care giver.

More than 170,000 young carers are under the age of 18 and among these the average age is twelve to thirteen.

Each day, young carers face constant challenges trying to juggle their study, work and caring responsibilities.

They make enormous personal sacrifices. At a time when most young people are enjoying life and a new independence, young carers have more on their mind.

The Respite Support for Carers of Young People with Severe or Profound Disability program allows carers to access much-needed respite, including in-home, centre-based and overnight care arrangements.

The Young Carers Program provides carers up to the age of 25 with access to respite care to attend education, training and recreational activities.

Through Carers Australia, the program also provides a range of information, referral and advice services including counselling, 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.

We know that caring responsibilities can take their toll. Young carers have a lower participation rate in secondary and tertiary education which limits their career and employment opportunities.

The respite services are delivered through the 55 Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres across the country.