Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

$822 Million to Support and Recognise Carers

Australia’s carers are set to benefit from an $822 million package of measures to increase support and recognition of their vital economic and social role.

The Government values their role and the contribution of carers who make enormous personal sacrifices through their selflessness and hard work.

Budget measures to support Australia’s carers include: fairer and simpler access to financial support of up to $546.80 per fortnight for eligible carers looking after children with a severe disability; bonus payments for recipients of Carer Payment, Carer Allowance and eligible service pensions; and $100 million for additional supported accommodation for people with disability, to help ageing parents who can no longer care for their disabled children at home.

$293.6 million for extra support for carers of children with profound disability

Around 19,000 parents caring for a child under the age of 16 will gain access to fortnightly Carer Payments of up to $546.80 as part of a $293.6 million package to fundamentally overhaul the eligibility and assessment for Carer Payment (child).

The Rudd Government’s measures will make the assessment process simpler and fairer.

The Government’s new package includes:

  • $273.6 million to substantially improve the eligibility criteria for Carer Payment (child) including:

    • a new assessment process for Carer Payment (child) based on the level of care required;
    • more generous arrangements for carers of children in hospital and those with a terminal illness so they can keep their Carer Payment and/or Allowance while their child is in hospital; and
    • easier transitions between Carer Payment (child) and Carer Payment (adult), reducing unnecessary and burdensome reassessments.
  • Around $20 million over four years for carers who have experienced a catastrophic event involving a young child.

The Government’s $293.6 million package for carers of children with disability responds to the Carer Payment (child): A New Approach, report released in February this year.

Following extensive consultations including 4,000 public submissions, the report found that carers of children with a severe disability or medical condition have been encountering barriers to meeting eligibility criteria for Carer Payment (child) because of fundamental inequities and arbitrary requirements.

The Government’s fairer assessment system will better reflect the circumstances of the child and their carer and respond better to individual circumstances.

$428.1 million for bonus payments for carers

Over 430,000 eligible carers will receive bonus payments in 2008 worth $428.1 million.

The Government’s commitment to providing the carers bonus is a modest measure to relieve some of the financial pressure on carers.

Recipients of Carer Payments and Department of Veterans’ Affairs Carer Service Pensions will each receive $1,000. Carer Allowance recipients who receive a Wife Pension or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Partner Service Pension also receive $1,000. Carer Allowance recipients will be paid $600 for each eligible care receiver.

Bonus payments will not be taxable for income tax purposes or treated as income for social security or veterans’ affairs purposes.

Bonus payments will be automatically made before the end of June 2008.

The Rudd Government recognises the invaluable role of carers in our community, and the personal and financial pressures they face. We are currently examining ways of providing greater security to carers.

$100 million for supported accommodation facilities for people with disability

The Government will provide $100 million in capital funding in 2007-08 to increase the supply of supported accommodation for people with disability whose ageing parents can no longer care for them at home.

These additional facilities will allow older carers to better plan the future of their children with disability.

The extra funding will provide for up to 35 new facilities accommodating up to six people each.

These new accommodation facilities will be supported on an ongoing basis by the transfer of $900 million into the Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement currently being renegotiated. These funds will be matched by the states and territories and will deliver $1.8 billion for disability services.