Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Carers Week 2003

Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today said Australians should applaud the dedication and commitment of more than two million carers across Australia during Carers Week (19-25 October).

Senator Patterson said that those inspirational people who care for immediate family, distant relatives or friends, range in age from teenagers to retirees and often make personal and career sacrifices to care for the person they love.

“The Australian Government recognises the vital role carers play in our society and will continue to support them through initiatives like the recently established National Family Carers Voice that provides carers with an avenue to discuss their concerns and issues.

“Importantly, National Family Carers Voice is gathering information from carers and providing advice to Government to help better plan and develop services to support carers in their vital work.”

Senator Patterson said the Australian Government provided funding to the States and Territories through the Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement. Under the current Agreement it would contribute $2.1 billion to States and Territories for services to people with disabilities.

“These disability services help carers through respite, day programs, accommodation and other support provided to people with disabilities.
“The National Respite for Carers Program is another fantastic Australian Government funded program established as a 1996-97 Budget initiative. Overall, funding for the program has increased five-fold from $19 million in 1996-97 to an estimated total of $98.7 million in 2003-04.
“I am also very pleased to see the Australian Government’s commitment to organise and sponsor a national forum for young carers in 2004. It will give young carers the opportunity to get information about caring, to discuss issues with each other, and to talk with government at all levels about how services and support for young carers can be improved.

“While I am proud of the Australian Government’s good track record in supporting carers of all ages, more can always be done by all levels of Government, communities and individuals.

“The extraordinary efforts of carers often go unnoticed. I would like every Australian to take some time over the coming week to celebrate and be thankful for the contributions these unsung heroes make to our country.”