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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Howard Government Listens To Australia’s Young Carers

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, will tomorrow attend Australia’s first national summit for young carers, some aged as young as 13 years.

Senator Patterson said the Howard Government recognised the important contribution of Australia’s young carers and was pleased to provide more than $80 000 to ensure the Young Carers Summit could be held.

‘This Summit is an ideal opportunity for the sharing of information and ideas among state carer associations, youth peak bodies, service providers and especially young carers themselves.

‘Young carers, some as young as thirteen years of age have a significant burden to bear looking after a parent and sometimes younger siblings. Many often have no extended family and little support,’ Senator Patterson said.

‘We hope the exchange of information will help to identify key policy issues facing young carers and will play a major role in identifying a way forward that supports young carers in their role as a carer and their individual social and economic participation in the community,’ Senator Patterson said.

‘The Howard Government is particularly committed to young carers. The Federal Budget included $26.6 million, to provide additional respite and age-appropriate information services for younger carers, to help them stay in education while continuing to provide care.

‘From January 2005, young carers who are studying or training may be eligible for up to five hours ‘in home’ respite each week during school terms, plus an additional two weeks respite each year.

‘A new information and referral service network will also be established under this measure so that the latest carers’ advice and news, can reach as many young carers as possible, which is particularly important for those young carers living in rural and regional areas.

‘The Howard Government is committed to supporting the extraordinary efforts and dedication of our young carers,’ Senator Patterson said.