Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

NSW still to accept Howard Government’s offer on respite care

The NSW Government has so far failed to accept an offer by the Howard Government to provide $16.4 million in respite care for older carers.

The Howard Government is offering NSW funding over four years to provide additional respite services for parents in the state who care for their sons and daughters with a disability.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today encouraged the NSW Minister responsible for disability services, John Della Bosca, to sign a bilateral agreement with the Howard Government.

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

“With several other states already responding positively to our offer, it is disappointing that NSW has so far indicated they are not willing to assist older carers.

“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.”

Under the agreement older carers would 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. We encourage NSW to show the same support and match our offer,” Senator Patterson said.