Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Respite For Older Carers

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today wrote to the State and Territory governments calling on them to match her offer of $72.5 million to provide respite for older parents caring for their sons and daughters with disabilities.

“The Australian Government is committed to providing support and assistance to people with disabilities and their families and provides substantial funding to states and territories to help them meet their responsibilities under the Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement,” Senator Patterson said.

“Under the Agreement, the state and territory governments have responsibility for respite and accommodation.

“In the Budget there was an additional $72.5 million for respite. This money is provisional on being matched by the state and territory governments.

“If the states and territories act responsibly and match these funds parents aged over 70 years who are caring for their sons and daughters with disabilities will have a guarantee of up to four weeks respite each year,” Senator Patterson said.

“Parents aged 65 to 69 years who care for their sons and daughters with disabilities and need to spend time in hospital, will be eligible for up to two weeks respite each year.

“The dedication and selflessness of older parents caring for their sons and daughters with disabilities often goes unrecognised by society.

“Older parents who have been caring for their sons and daughters with disabilities for an extended period of time can become socially isolated, suffer health problems and have limited financial resources as a direct result of their caring role.

“The Howard Government recognises carers are unsung heroes. In the recent Budget we acknowledged their commitment and selfless dedication with a one off bonus payment of $1000 for those receiving Carer Payment and $600 for Carer Allowance recipients for each eligible care receiver they provide care for,” Senator Patterson said

The Minister will be meeting with state and territories this week at the Community and Disability Services Minister Conference and she will take the opportunity to raise this important initiative with them in person.