Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Review of the lists of recognised disabilities

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today announced that the Australian Government will call on the experience and expertise of peak disability and carer organisations, and specialists in childhood disability to review the Carer Allowance (Child) Lists of Recognised Disabilities.

“The Lists acknowledge that certain childhood disabilities and medical conditions are severe enough to qualify automatically the parent or carer for Carer Allowance (Child),” she said.

“If a child has a disability or medical condition on the Lists, their parent or carer can receive the Carer Allowance (Child) without need for further medical assessment until the child’s 16th birthday.”

Senator Patterson said the review would look at how effectively the Lists of Recognised Disabilities are working and how well they meet the aim of efficiently providing a consistent and objective means of assessing eligibility for Carer Allowance (Child).

“Carers should feel secure that individuals who have a disability on the Lists of Recognised Disabilities will not be reviewed – only the list of conditions will,” she said.

Senator Patterson said the review would not examine the six disabilities or medical conditions recently added or amended to the Lists. They are:

  • expansion of the criteria for Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome to include children under 16 years of age, including girls with Fragile X syndrome. Previously these criteria were limited to children under six years of age;
  • expansion of the criterion for Haemophilia to include both Factor VIII and Factor IX deficiency (less than 10%). Previously this criterion was limited to Factor VIII (less than 1%); and
  • the addition of three conditions to the Lists:
    • Phenylketonuria
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Epilepsy (uncontrolled while on medication).

Senator Patterson said: “The Australian Government recognises that caring for a child with a disability is challenging for parents and carers and has delivered on its promise to improve the support and assistance available to them.

“The Government is committed to providing support for carers. Total Government expenditure on Carer Allowance in 2002-03 was around $740 million, an increase of approximately 15 per cent on the previous year.

“I welcome the review of the Lists of Recognised Disabilities because the view of carers and experts in childhood disabilities will help the Government to continue to improve support for carers.

“My department has advertised nationally to invite public submissions to the review. These will provide valuable input and I encourage anyone with an interest in this area to contribute.”