Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

More flexibility for Carers

From 1 April 2005, the number of hours a carer can work, train or study will increase from 20 to 25 hours, before it impacts on their Carer Payment.The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson today said carers across Australia would be able to increase the time they spend training for, or maintaining employment skills without losing eligibility for Carer Payment.

“Some carers, previously excluded from Carer Payment because they work, study or train for more than 20 hours, but less than 25 hours per week, may now be eligible for the payment,” Senator Patterson said.

“This increased flexibility will help to develop and maintain work skills so that Carer Payment recipients have a greater chance of securing employment and financial independence for themselves and their family, when the caring role ceases.

“Many carers care for their loved ones full time and may be unable to undertake this amount of training or work, but by making this opportunity available we can continue to support these dedicated Australians.

“The increase in hours will be particularly beneficial to young carers, who should be encouraged to reach their individual potential by having the opportunity to gain employment, skills and knowledge.

“This Howard Government election commitment also recognises the diversity of care situations and this measure provides the opportunity for carers to choose to participate in more work, study or training while continuing their caring role.

“Since 1996, the number of hours a Carer Payment customer can work, train or study has increased from 10 to 25 hours a week, reflecting the importance this Government places on improving carers’ choice and flexibility in undertaking their caring role,” Senator Patterson said.