Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Australian Government continues to act on young carers’ concerns

A new report, released today by Carers Australia, highlights the need for a whole of government approach to better plan for, and support, young carers in our communities.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today launched the Carers Australia – Young Carers Summit 2004 Report, which recognises the role and responsibilities of young carers in Australia.

“The Report captures the outcomes of discussions during the Young Carers National Summit held last year. The Howard Government recognises the important contribution of Australia’s young carers and was pleased to provide more than $80,000 to ensure the first ever Young Carers Summit could be held,” Senator Patterson said.

“This Summit enabled 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 when looking after a parent and sometimes younger siblings. Many often have no extended family and little support.

“The Report provides a valuable insight into the role of young carers and the need for greater access to available services, which can assist these carers in managing their caring role as well as allowing them to participate in school, paid work and social activities.

“Young carers also called for access to peer support activities where they can meet with other young carers to develop support for each other. Recognising the importance of this Summit for young carers, I have undertaken to fund another Summit in 2006.

“I am pleased to announce Carers Australia has been contracted to provide the new information, referral and advice services through the Commonwealth Carer Resource Centres. The centres, through the hotline number, will allow young carers to talk to specialist support staff who are there to help and support them.

“In the 2004-05 Budget, the Howard Government announced $27 million in funding for respite services and information aimed directly at young carers, including a telephone hotline and online advice.

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