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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

$850,000 for older parent carers in the Northern Territory

The Howard Government is offering more than $850,000 over four years to provide additional respite services in the Northern Territory for parents who care for their sons and daughters with a disability.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today encouraged the Northern Territory Minister responsible for disability services, Marion Scrymgour, to sign a bilateral agreement with the Howard Government.

“This agreement, when matched by the Northern Territory Government, will provide support for the many parents in the Northern Territory who make the commitment to provide life-long care for their sons and daughters with a disability,” Senator Patterson said.

“In the last Budget, the Howard Government committed $72.5 million over four years to increase access to respite care services Australia-wide. This offer was subject to state and territory governments matching our contribution, and I am now in a position to make a formal offer to the Northern Territory Government.

Under the agreement older carers will receive:

  • up to four weeks respite care a year for parents over the age of 70 caring for a son or daughter with disabilities; and
  • up to two weeks respite care a year for parents aged between 65 and 69 years who themselves require hospital care and are caring for a son or daughter with disabilities.

The agreement is part of a $461 million carers package announced in the 2004-05 Federal Budget which includes:

  • bonus payments of $1000 for eligible recipients of the Carer’s Payment and $600 for Carer’s Allowance recipients;
  • extension of the Carer Allowance to carers who do not live with the care recipient, but provide substantial personal care;
  • up to five hours each week in-home respite care for younger carers to assist them in completing their education;
  • increased number of hours that a carer can work, train or study, without losing eligibility for Carer Payment from 20 to 25 hours;
  • a commitment to work with states and territories to develop options to help older parent carers plan for the future care needs of their sons and daughters who have a disability; and
  • $27 million to establish respite and information services for young carers who require particular services to help them stay in education.

“The agreement highlights the importance of a whole-of-government approach to meeting the needs of people with disabilities and their carers, and ensures the contribution carers make in the community continues to be recognised.

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