Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Report Highlights Role of Carers

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Ageing

A new report, released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, demonstrates the value of the Australian Government’s support for carers of older Australians and people with disabilities.The Australian Government welcomes the report, Carers in Australia: assisting frail older people and people with a disability, which identifies the need for flexible workplaces, respite and financial support as keys to enabling carers to continue their valuable role.

The report recognises that caring is complex, demanding and rewarding. It is an extremely valuable role, not just for the person receiving the care, but also for our society as a whole.

The Australian Government delivered an extra $461 million in financial and respite support for carers in the 2004 Federal Budget, including a one-off carers bonus, extended the Carer Allowance to carers who do not live with the person they care for, and provided extra respite and information support for young carers and additional respite for ageing parents of sons and daughters with disabilities.

The report highlights how remaining engaged in the workforce benefits carers financially and emotionally.

To enable carers to remain in the workforce the Australian Government has committed to extending the time carers may work, train or study from 20 to 25 hours per week without losing eligibility for Carer Payment.

We have also increased funding for the National Respite for Carers Program more than fivefold since 1995-96, and committed to enabling up to 5,000 carers to obtain an extra 480 hours of employment-related respite per year.

Our commitments will also see carers benefit from increased overnight respite care in cottage-style accommodation, more respite places in rural and regional Australia and enhanced residential respite care.

The Australian Government’s strong support for individual workplace agreements which enable workers and businesses to choose flexible working arrangements which best suit their needs also helps carers who are balancing their caring role with activities outside their home.

More information on support carers is available from Commonwealth Carer Respite Centres on 1800 059 059 and Commonwealth Carelink Centres on 1800 052 222.