Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

New measures to assist with the future care of people with disabilities

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said her new measures would assist parents, with the capacity, to contribute financially to the future care and accommodation needs of a son or daughter with severe disabilities.

“I am a passionate advocate for carers, especially this older group of people – they deserve much more recognition and they need more support and that is why I have been working hard to develop this package of initiatives announced today by the Prime Minister,” Senator Patterson said.

“Many older parents, who have cared for a son or a daughter, some with more than one child with severe disabilities since birth, worry about what will happen when they are no longer able to care for them. They fear for the future of their child, who will care for them and how the care will continue.

“The major component of the measures will mean that families who have the financial means will be able to establish a trust up to $500,000 for the care needs of a severely disabled child without the trust affecting their Disability Support Pension.

“The parents or immediate family members contributing to the trust, within five years of age pension age, will also benefit from the Gifting Rule in relation to the Age Pension and Department of Veteran’s Affairs Service Pension.

“Other assistance provided in the package of measures will see access to mediation and counselling services for families, financial information kits for parents considering private provisions and more research to better inform future policy proposals.

“I am pleased to also announce today the establishment of an Advisory Group, to be chaired by Ian Spicer and include financial experts and parents of children with a severe disability who will work with me to help refine the details of the policy.

“The Howard Government can only do so much – I have already put the states and territories on notice that they must join us in a concerted effort to deliver quality nationally-consistent support and services, and I will be working with them to do so,” Senator Patterson said.