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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

More respite for older carers a step closer

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, announced today that the State and Territory governments had agreed to begin negotiations regarding her offer of $72.5 million to provide respite for older parents caring for their sons and daughters with disabilities.

“I am pleased the states and territories acknowledge that respite is an issue and that they are prepared to work with the Australian Government to guarantee respite for older carers,” Senator Patterson said.

“I call on my state and territory colleagues to act swiftly and match the $72.5 million provided in the recent federal budget.

“This will ensure 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.

“In addition I have proposed parents aged 65 to 69 years who care for their sons and daughters with disabilities and need to spend time in hospital, should be eligible for up to two weeks respite each year.

“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.

“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.

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

“The dedication and selflessness of older parents caring for their sons and daughters with disabilities often goes unrecognised by society. I am pleased the states and territories are prepared to work with me to improve conditions for older carers,” Senator Patterson said.