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Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Carers Week

Carers Week will be celebrated from 20-26 October 2002. The theme is ‘Are You a Family Carer?’ with the focus being on reaching hidden carers throughout the Australian community.

There are approximately 2.3 million carers all over Australia. Some are still in their teens and others are retired. Some carers look after parents, others care for their children and others care for more distant relatives or friends. The care that they provide covers a whole range of different ailments and conditions.

Despite this diversity, the one thing that carers do have in common, is they are all extraordinary people doing an extraordinary job.

Carers give so much of themselves in supporting family members, friends, or acquaintances. This year’s Carers Week theme seeks to recognise family carers – who often go unrecognised despite the significant contribution they make to the community.

The Commonwealth Government recognises how important carers are to the community and will continue to support them by providing assistance through the Department of Family and Community Services and through Centrelink.

This assistance includes direct payments such as Carer Allowance and Carer Payment valued at $1.2 billion a year. It also includes the specialist staff employed by Centrelink to provide carers with advice and referrals.

The Commonwealth Government has also allocated $4.8 billion for services to people with disabilities under the next Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement.

These disability services will assist carers through respite, day programs, accommodation, employment and other support provided to people with disabilities. The new Agreement will aim to continually improve support for carers and make services responsive to the needs of individual carers and people with disabilities.

As part of the response to the Young Carers Report, the Commonwealth intends to sponsor a national young carers conference. The conference will give young carers the opportunity to network and obtain information relevant to their circumstances. It will also be a valuable opportunity for young carers to tell government at all levels about their caring role and how we can work towards improving support for them.

I encourage everyone to participate in Carers Week and to reflect on the valuable contribution that carers make in our community.