Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Carers to benefit from new funding and research

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson has announced the Howard Government will fund a national meeting of young carers every two years.

This follows the success of the inaugural meeting funded by the Howard Government in August.

Senator Patterson said the Howard Government recognised the important contribution of Australia’s young carers, some as young as 11, and was pleased to provide funding to ensure further meetings could be held.

‘This year’s summit was 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 have a significant burden to bear looking after a parent and sometimes younger siblings. Many often have no extended family and little support. We hope by funding regular meetings young carers will have an opportunity to share their experiences and ideas and form support networks that will help them in their caring role,’ said Senator Patterson.

It is fitting during Carers Week that the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today also announced the Australian Government would soon embark on a major national research project, Long-Term Impact of Caring.

Senator Patterson said the project would look at the economic and social participation issues faced at different stages during the time a person cares for a loved one or friend. She said it would provide a better understanding of the barriers that people with caring responsibilities face and the services that could assist.

‘This is the first research of its kind that my department will commission into the needs and future aspirations of carers across Australia, with results expected to be available in late 2005,’ Senator Patterson said.

‘The survey will provide important additional insights into carers’ family and community support arrangements. While the project will largely focus on Carer Payment and Carer Allowance recipients, these findings are also expected to be relevant for other carers.’

Given the increasing number of carers in the community, currently at more than 2.5 million, the project will provide a better understanding of the broader economic and social implications associated with informal caring.

‘Their ages range from quite young to the elderly. They live in cities and in remote communities. They are people like you and me – from all walks of life who play an important role in caring for people with disabilities, severe medical conditions or who are frail aged,’ Senator Patterson said.

‘The Australian Government recognises how important carers are to the community and provided more than $1.8 billion during 2003-04 in direct payments such as Carer Allowance and Carer Payment, and the one-off Carer Bonus announced in the 2004-05 Budget.

‘The theme of this year’s Carers Week is ‘Health and Wellbeing’. I encourage everyone to participate in Carers Week and to reflect on the valuable contribution that carers make in our community,’ Senator Patterson said.